Two Atlanta couples, the Clarks and Gardners, on ‘Amazing Race’ season 35

One couple includes a former NFL player and the other couple are double Dutch experts.
Michelle and Sean Clark and Rod and Leticia Gardner on the 36th season of "The Amazing Race." YURI HASEGAWA/CBS



Michelle and Sean Clark and Rod and Leticia Gardner on the 36th season of "The Amazing Race." YURI HASEGAWA/CBS

Two active, upbeat married couples from metro Atlanta are competing for $1 million on the 36th season of “The Amazing Race”

The season, which begins Wednesday after “Survivor,” was actually taped before the season that aired last fall. This set of 13 teams in the fall of 2022 was the third and final group of competitors to use a chartered plane instead of commercial planes since the producers were under some pandemic protocols. (The show is back to using commercial flights again for upcoming seasons.)

Among the countries the teams visited are Barbados, Argentina and the Dominican Republic.

Here are thumbnail sketches of Rod and Leticia Gardner and Michelle and Sean Clark.

Rod and Leticia Gardner

Ages: 46, 38

Kids: Ages 9, 19 and 21

Residence: Lawrenceville

Rod’s profession: Former NFL player and current owner of Gshred Supplements

Leticia’s profession: Fitness business owner

Advantages: Leticia said “we took a test for the show and we had similar strengths.” On the show, he drove and she navigated. “She is the better planner,” he said. “Rod is better with the puzzle stuff,” she noted. They are a couple that does DIY projects all the time at their home, including a man cave and a she shed. And Rod is not only in great shape but also a fierce competitor. “Having those other 12 teams turned the switch on,” he said. Leticia said she is more competitive within herself: “I’m a go getter, not a quitter.”

The challenges: Rod said “‘The Amazing Race’ is a competition I’ve never done before. It’s ready, set, go, but you can’t plan ahead. They’re always trying to trick you up. You don’t necessarily know what the other teams are up to.” Leticia said you have no time to go to the bathroom or eat: “You are living off adrenaline. You don’t even know how hungry you are.” Rod carried lots of protein bars to keep himself going.

Host Phil Keogan’s take on the couple from a Parade interview: “They walk in, and you might think they’re arguing or something because they’re bickering with each other. And yet, you could just see this deep love in the way they look at each other. I don’t know how many times I said on the mat to them, ‘You guys are super in love, right?’ They are definitely lovey-dovey.”

Michelle and Sean Clark

Ages: 39, 46

Residence: East Point

Married since: 2013

Owners of Double Dutch Aerobics in Atlanta

How they ended up on the show: Producers recruited them after seeing one of their Double Dutch Aerobics videos online in which they go up to random adults and teach them how to do Double Dutch jump roping. (Michelle grew up in Brooklyn, becoming a Double Dutch expert as a child.)

Why they did it: Michelle said it was one of her dreams to travel the world with her husband. “I love doing everything with him anyway,” she said. Sean said he wanted to “push past my fears like heights. You do it or go home. Before going on the show, I couldn’t even go on the second step of a ladder.” Michelle’s biggest fear? Handling animals. Watching teams in a previous season wrangling chickens freaked her out.

Why they could win: “We are stronger together. We work well together. We get frustrated sometimes but we can push past it to accomplish a goal,” Sean said.

Why Atlanta: The couple moved here in 2014 from New York City and have no regrets. “We can build a business and live comfortably here,” Sean said. “In New York, we had to work three jobs.”

Leaving three young kids behind: The toughest part of doing the show was leaving their three young kids (ages 2, 5 and 6). They could not talk to them at all during the month when they were in the competition. Their moms watched the kids. They did pre-tape messages that their kids could watch while they were gone.

Prepping for the show: Michelle said they learned how to swim. “We got a personal trainer to teach us,” Sean said. “We picked it up pretty quickly!”

Host Phil Keogan’s take on the couple: “They’re not waiting for somebody to tell them what to do or how to do it. They just figure out a way — big smiles. And they just absolutely love the fact that they get a chance to be on this race. Nothing makes me happier than to see people when they’re running into the Pit Stop with big beaming smiles.”


“The Amazing Race,” season 36 debut at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, on CBS with all “Amazing Race” episodes available on Paramount+