Teams raised money for the trip, then filmed their progress as they followed clues from Richmond to Los Angeles.
Yamashita spent $10,000 on the event and made sure the teams were serious about their mission.
After a night of "Fear Factor-style festivities" on March 11, Yamashita says, the five teams of three camped outside Paramount's Kings Dominion. A Navy Seal arrived at 5 a.m. in a Humvee and woke them up for an hour-long set of calisthenics. "They are all cursing my name, wanting to go home," Yamashita recalls with a chuckle.
From there, clues led them to Washington, D.C., then by train to a bar in New York City. When a video-clue appeared on all the bar's TVs, teams watching realized they were heading to Las Vegas.
It was there that two members of competing teams married each other (though it's not quite official, Yamashita says). One young man tattooed the Sticky Rice logo over his entire lower back. A woman got the same on her wrist, plus Yamashita's initials on her leg.
Teams then headed to the Mojave Desert, where a clue in a cave led them to Los Angeles. On Sunday, they flew home to Washington, D.C., where Yamashita's mother greeted all 15 with a sign reading "Mom" and invited them to her house for some homemade beef stroganoff. That wasn't one of the challenges, Yamashita hastens to add.
So who won? Points will be tallied and teams' individual footage edited to make a documentary, which will be shown to the public when the winners are announced at Have a Nice Day Café April 27. Yamashita says proceeds will go to the Red Cross.
His ultimate goal, he says, is to get the edited documentary of their travels on TV, whether local or national. But for now he's taking a break. "It was so much fun planning it," he says, "and I'm glad it's over."
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