The video from the 2010 season of the reality show immediately went viral and has since been viewed millions of times on YouTube.
Claire, who at the time was a Home Shopping TV host, went on the Amazing Race with her best friend Brook. In one of their first challenges, Claire had to fire a watermelon out of a slingshot and hit a target on the other side of a field. But it went spectacularly wrong and the watermelon came flying back at her head, striking her right in the face.
News.com.au caught up with Claire to find out how it happened, what injuries she sustained and what it’s like to be known as “watermelon girl”.
Let’s start with the challenge. What do you remember from that day?
I grabbed the watermelon and you had to try and knock down the knight. At the time I was so little so to get enough tension in the slingshot I had to lay all the way down. When I went to release it I had too much tension and the leather strap wrapped around the watermelon and flung back into my face.
I didn’t know what had happened. I was laying on my back and it was like I’d been in a car accident, I was just in shock. I started pulling the watermelon off my face and I thought it was my own flesh.
While you’re in the Amazing Race, your sound crew and camera crew never leave your side and when the crew left, I was like, “I’m in trouble, this is bad.” They called in a medical team and they asked me some basic questions and then they vanished and the camera crew came back.
I said to Brooke, “What do we do now?” And that’s when her big line came: “You have to finish … They don’t call it the Amazing Race for nothing!”
Did you sustain any injuries?
I couldn’t feel my face. My lip started swelling up and I had a little black eye. Another medical team were waiting for me (after the challenge) and they gave me some Panadol and told me I was going to be fine. Then a producer came up to me and said, “Thanks for our Emmy this year.”
Brook comes across quite harsh in the clip, telling you to get up and complete the challenge.
There’s a lot they didn’t show. It was edited the perfect way and she did get a lot of sh*t for that, but she’s really loving and endearing.
The clip of you getting hit in the face leaked before that season of the Amazing Race started airing on TV. What was the reaction like at the time?
When you go on the show you have to sign an agreement that you won’t talk about it until it airs or you can get sued for $10 million, so I wasn’t allowed to say a thing.
I was out at my parents’ ranch and all of a sudden my emails started blowing up and my phone was full of messages asking if I was “watermelon girl”. The creator of the show called me and said, “Claire, if you need anything, just let me know because this is getting out of control.”
I went in and woke up my dad and I said, “You need to come see this video, it’s all over the internet. I know your friends are going to be calling you about it.” He said, “Claire, whatever you did, I will forgive you and love you forever.” I was like, “Dad, it’s not porn! It’s from the Amazing Race!” He said, “Good Lord, why didn’t you just say that in the first place?”
It was everywhere. It was on all the late night TV shows, I was named “Turkey of the Season” by ESPN. It was crazy.
You and Brook finished in second place on that season of Amazing Race, that’s quite an achievement.
We were nine minutes away from the million dollars. I think production had a little something to do with that because they wanted us to be on All Stars (you can’t be on All Stars if you win), but I’m not sure.
They’ve asked us to come back three times but we’ve never been in the place to do it because we’re always having babies.
What are you up to now?
I’m a mum who lives out in Arizona. I just started doing interior design so that’s my new venture.
Brook and I are still best friends. She actually just had a baby two days ago so I’m going to fly out and help her with her three-year-old and newborn in a couple of weeks.
And yes, I still get recognised occasionally, especially in the produce department.