RALEIGH — Thanks to Clay Aiken, Raleigh has already given the world an American Idol first runner-up. Now thanks to former Carolina Hurricanes player Bates Battaglia and his brother Anthony, the city could boast that its the home of The Amazing Race season 22s winning team.
Things will become clear Sunday night at 8, when the show airs its two-hour finale. The season premiered in February, with 11 two-person teams racing around the world, performing different tasks related to various cultures, and the Battaglias are among the four teams to survive.
The brothers know whether theyve won the million-dollar pot at the finish line, but by all accounts they have given no clues. Theyll be among those gathered Sunday at Bates Battaglias bar, Lucky Bs, which has been hosting viewing parties of the show.
Its been lots of fun for me to watch. Its such a blast, said Mike Lombardo, who co-owns Lucky Bs with Battaglia. I keep trying to get information from them.
Thats not going to happen. In fact, although the Battaglias share a place in Raleighs Glenwood South area, just chatting with them required sending an email to a CBS representative in Los Angeles, who then emailed questions to Bates, who then emailed answers back to Los Angeles, where a publicist sent the answers to a reporter sitting at a desk 10 minutes away from the Battaglias.
Even so, for the Battaglias and the bar, its been all upside. The brothers have competed in such exotic locales as Vietnam, Switzerland and New Zealand, often clad in Lucky Bs paraphernalia.
Well I only packed three shirts and one hat for the trip, and they just so happened to be Lucky Bs! Ha!, Battaglia wrote in his email. But seriously, we have been one of Glenwood Souths hot spots for almost eight years. And we have had lots of Amazing Race and Carolina Hurricanes fans come in and watch every episode at Lucky Bs.
There has definitely been an increase in business he continued. I like talking about our bar and promoting it, so being able to represent it on the show was only a perk.
Lombardo said the bar has drawn about 75 to 100 people for each Sunday night airing; the Battaglias have been present to take jibes earned when they do something dumb, and cheers for their successes, like their three first-place wins.
Because its a bar, the viewing parties draw the 21 and older crowd. On Sunday, Lombardo said the bar will open at 6 p.m. so younger fans can meet Bates and Anthony Battaglia and get autographs.
All that traveling with the Lucky Bs brand has Bates Battaglia thinking globally, at least in his trademark lighthearted way.
I think there should be a Lucky Bs in every country of course, he wrote. I mean, come on, with how much fun you have at Lucky Bs we could unite the world. Hmm, I dont think Im too far off in thinking world peace could be a possibility.
For his part, Lombardo is thinking a little smaller. With the Race coming to an end, he said hes considering other reality options for Bates.
I think he should do Survivor, weve talked about that, he said. I watch that show Splash too. Hes had fame with the Hurricanes, and this is another opening for him. I hope that he runs with it.
Johnson; 919-829-4751; twitter.com/amajomartin