Did Atlanta’s Rod and Leticia Gardner win ‘The Amazing Race’?

Rod and Leticia Gardner of Lawrenceville came in third place during the 36th season of "The Amazing Race." CBS

Credit: CBS

Credit: CBS

Rod and Leticia Gardner of Lawrenceville came in third place during the 36th season of "The Amazing Race." CBS

No team from Atlanta has ever won CBS’s “The Amazing Race” over the first 35 seasons going back to 2001.

That streak will continue because Lawrenceville couple Rod and Leticia Gardner came in third place for season 36, which aired its season finale Wednesday night.

After eight countries and 14 cities, they ultimately lost to Ricky Rotandi and Cesar Aldrete, boyfriends from New York City who played an incredibly consistent game. Ricky and Cesar came in first seven times, second twice and third once. Their prize: $1 million. Military pilots and friends Shane Bilek and Juan Villa finished second, pocketing $25,000. The Gardners receive $10,000.

Rod, a former NFL player, told host Phil Keoghan that the key to their success as a married couple is forgiving and apologizing. Leticia said she led by example and hopes their three kids are proud.

This race “has taught us not to give up,” said Rod after the race ended.

“This was our roughest leg but we had the most fun,” said Leticia, who kept an upbeat attitude for most of the race. “We’ve come a long way from the first leg. We put pride aside and fought every leg.”

Beginning the final episode in the Dominican Republic with four teams remaining, they were able to handle a Detour creating drinks without any issues. For the Roadblock, Leticia learned how to windsurf relatively quickly. As a result, they cruised to the pit stop in first place, their third first place finish of the season.

Amber Craven and Vinny Cagungun, the bickering couple who never came in first on any leg, were eliminated.

The final three teams flew to Philadelphia, the final leg of the race. The first Roadblock featured Leticia dressed in a mascot outfit and running an obstacle course. At this point, Ricky and Cesar grab the lead. At the next challenge, each team each must recite a portion of the Preamble. Ricky and Cesar get through it faster than Rod and Leticia as Rod struggled with the memorization, essentially costing them the game.

Ricky and Cesar are the first to arrive at the final Roadblock, where Cesar has to piece together America’s first official flag, building on their lead. He finishes before Rod and Leticia even arrive. Leticia has problems putting the flag together, allowing Juan and Shane to catch up and pass Rod and Leticia.

The final challenge involves piecing together a massive Liberty Bell puzzle. Ricky and Cesar complete this before the other teams even show up. This is a clear runaway victory and Ricky and Cesar take the prize.