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 it’s the home of “The Amazing Race” season 22’s 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 they’ve won the million-dollar pot at the finish line, but by all accounts they have given no clues. They’ll be among those gathered Sunday at Bates Battaglia’s bar, Lucky B’s, which has been hosting viewing parties of the show.
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“It’s been lots of fun for me to watch. It’s such a blast,” said Mike Lombardo, who co-owns Lucky B’s with Battaglia. “I keep trying to get information from them.”
That’s not going to happen. In fact, although the Battaglias share a place in Raleigh’s 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, it’s been all upside. The brothers have competed in such exotic locales as Vietnam, Switzerland and New Zealand, often clad in Lucky B’s paraphernalia.
“Well I only packed three shirts and one hat for the trip, and they just so happened to be Lucky B’s! Ha!,” Battaglia wrote in his email. “But seriously, we have been one of Glenwood South’s 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 B’s.
“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 it’s 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 B’s brand has Bates Battaglia thinking globally, at least in his trademark lighthearted way.
“I think there should be a Lucky B’s in every country of course,” he wrote. “I mean, come on, with how much fun you have at Lucky B’s we could unite the world. Hmm, I don’t think I’m 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 he’s considering other reality options for Bates.
“I think he should do ‘Survivor,’ we’ve talked about that,” he said. “I watch that show ‘Splash’ too. He’s had fame with the Hurricanes, and this is another opening for him. I hope that he runs with it.”