PUEBLO, Colo. ― For those that live the Western lifestyle, the silver belly American cowboy hat that sits atop Cord McCoy’s head is nothing out of the ordinary.
Like many others, there have been many times McCoy has put on one of his cowboy hats, pulled on a pair of blue jeans and grabbed a pair of his boots before setting out to work on his Oklahoma ranch.
However, this hat in particular – made in Bowie, Texas – will be different. It has the potential to travel to four continents, dash through nine different countries, face various weather conditions and rest atop the now-retired PBR bull rider’s head as he looks to accomplish the unthinkable with his brother Jet – who wears his own black-styled hat – and win $1 million.
The two brothers, who have famously been dubbed “the cowboys” by a national TV audience, have returned for a third time to the hit CBS reality TV series “The Amazing Race,” which premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
And, yes, both have new cowboy hats to bring with them on their latest journey.
Neither McCoys expected their hats or cowboy boots to become a national identity for them on the Emmy-winning show.
Why would it? It is something they have always worn.
Yet, that is exactly what it became to those unfamiliar with the cowboy way of life.
“It definitely sets us apart,” Cord said. “Jet and I wear a cowboy hat and boots every day. It’s not like we had to dress up for it. I remember the very first interview when we went to Los Angeles for the first race (in 2010). Jet and I walked up to the whole group of people interviewing and the first thing they asked us was, ‘What are you going to wear?’ We looked at each other and just said, ‘We are ready to go.’”
The 33-year-old admitted he purposely went shopping for a new hat after wearing two different hats in seasons 16 and 18. This is the first time he specifically bought a hat for "The Amazing Race.” In season 18, McCoy took off across the globe in the same hat he got married in the day before the race got underway.
Jet is also wearing a different cowboy hat this season after wearing the same one during the brothers’ previous two appearances. The 34-year-old remembers being asked during the original interview process four years ago if he and Cord were “real” cowboys.
“We were like, ‘Well, yeah,’” Jet laughed.
“It’s just who we are,” he continued. “It’s not something that I really feel like we chose to do or anything like that. The hat is more or less who we are. We are just a couple of cowboys from Oklahoma.”
Did he think their cowboy hats would become so symbolic?
“Ya know, it’s kind of funny looking back,” Jet said. “People call us ‘the cowboys’ and it just kind of defines us. I don’t think we went out to set any kind of image. It is just what you see is what you get.”
The McCoys are just another example of staying true to your roots.
“It is good that you get noticed for what is really you,” Cord said. “It’s a pretty natural fit. When I am at the ranch, I have Ariat jeans, an Ariat shirt and Ariat boots on. When I race around the world, I wear the same products I was wearing around the house every day.”
Along with being easily identifiable stars on television, the brothers’ cowboy hats and attire has proven to be a slight competitive advantage, or at least somewhat helpful, during "The Amazing Race.”
“The good thing about wearing a cowboy hat, no matter what country you are in, they know you are a cowboy and they have a pretty good guess you are lost and are not from around there,” Cord said.
So, of course, it was only fitting that when their cell phones went off last year, the two Oklahoma cowboys were on horseback herding cattle – wearing cowboy hats, of course – together at a ranch managed by Jet. Both brothers were puzzled upon first glance when they saw a Los Angeles phone number on their screens.
Once they answered, it was only a matter of minutes before they were accepting their third invitation to compete on "The Amazing Race” for $1 million against 10 other all-star teams.
“We were like, ‘Heck yeah, man,’” Cord recalled. “We couldn’t get our horses unsaddled fast enough. As soon as they asked us that, there was no doubt. We were excited from the words ‘would ya.’ We were ready.”
The conversation out in the pasture quickly turned into what they could do to physically prepare. The two certainly hadn’t forgotten about coming up short in 2010 when they placed second and in 2011 when they finished sixth in another all-star edition.
This season is the first time Cord is in the race after not competing as a professional bull rider. Therefore, his body is in better shape – at least health-wise – after not having to deal with the rigors of a full season on the Built Ford Tough Series and leaving for the race days after the World Finals.
Jet trained with his cousin Hunter, who has a degree in exercise science, while also keeping up with his CrossFit routine.
“Physically, you want to be in the best shape as possible,” Jet said. “But as far as the race is concerned, you never really know what you’re going to be up against, and you just try and take it one day and one challenge at a time, and just kind of deal with it as it comes.”
Cord laughed when reminiscing about part of his own training, which included ankle weights and a backpack.
“People were probably laughing at me because for a solid month, it probably looked like I was late for school because I was running down a gravel road with a backpack on.”
Now, only one can wonder how their cowboy hats will hold up and help them when they potentially take part on a mission high above the city in Guangzhou, China, go rappelling down the rigorous waters of the Kiansom Waterfall in Malaysia, or when they head to battle with gladiators in Rome, Italy.
Jet says fans can expect this season to be “definitely exciting” with a strong cast, unusual challenges and interesting locations.
“Well, it is the all stars, but I definitely think they named it right because it is amazing,” he concluded. “The teams are extreme, the race is going to be rank (and) they pulled out all the stops for this one.
“You better pull your hats down tight and tune in.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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