WAILUKU - By the time you read this, Lahaina resident Michael Munoz will be back home singing karaoke at Kobe Japanese Steak House after a whirlwind round-the-world jaunt in CBS' reality game show "The Amazing Race."
Munoz and his brother, Mark, along with 10 other two-person teams circled the globe in less than a month to compete for a $1 million prize.
But just don't ask him about it.
Lahaina resident Michael Munoz (left) and his brother, Mark, from Los Angeles, are contestants on the CBS reality show “The Amazing Race,” which is to air the first episode of its new season Sunday.
Contest rules bar Munoz from discussing the competition. But via phone from Los Angeles recently he was allowed to share his feelings and explain why he entered the often hectic, emotional and grueling physical and mental TV competition.
"It was a trip. It was lots of fun," he said. "You can't miss it."
Michael, 51, and Mark, 48, of Los Angeles, will be featured in the 14th season of "The Amazing Race," which will air at 7 p.m. Sunday on CBS (Channels 3, 9, 1007).
The show features the brothers, who are both professional stuntmen, along with other interesting pairs, such as former National Football League cheerleaders and a brother-and-sister team who both graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School and now work as corporate lawyers in California.
The Emmy-wining show follows the 11 teams for 12 episodes as they travel more than 40,000 miles in 22 days to nine countries, including, for the first time, Romania. Other countries include Switzerland, India and Russia.
In the past, the teams raced from country to country, picking up clues along the way for the next destination. The first team to reach the secret final destination is the winner.
Munoz, who grew up in Santa Monica, Calif., but whose family went back and forth between there and Oahu, said he and his brother have watched the show regularly and applied because they thought it would be an interesting experience.
"I figured, hey, I can do that," Munoz said.
Munoz said he and his brother keep in good physical condition for their work as stuntmen in movies and television shows, but they couldn't prepare for everything in the competition.
"I don't think anybody could prepare for the unknown," he said.
But he and his brother "felt good" going into the competition and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. "We had to keep our minds open and be ready."
Munoz has been on Maui for eight years and in his younger years lived on Oahu where he surfed on Oahu's famed North Shore.
He now commutes to Los Angeles, where he has done stunts and acting in television shows and movies such as the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno"; played a monster in the movie "Van Helsing"; and played a child hanging from a chandelier in the movie "Cheaper by the Dozen." He and his brother have also worked on the "Spider-Man" films.
Although Munoz can't say if his 4-foot-9-inch height was an advantage on "Amazing Race," he did say it does help in his stunt work as he has a low center of gravity and can act in children's roles.
The same goes for brother Mark, who is the same height and comes from a jockey background.
Munoz said he and his brother were trained as dancers when they were young and have also danced the hula. Their family had a dance-shoe business on Oahu, which had them commuting between Oahu and California.
On Maui, Munoz said, he likes to surf and swim. You can find him at Puamana and "Shark Pit" surf spots.
His wife, Marisa, also enjoys the water and remains on Maui when Munoz goes to work in Los Angeles.
Munoz also has two stepsons and seven "moopuna," or grandchildren.
Although Munoz's life is getting back to normal, he said it's hard keeping a secret about the show.
But he said people will be in store for lots of fun.
"As the show always is, it's full of surprises and all. . . . Beyond that: You've got to wait and see."
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.