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Legacy Project

Phil Keoghan

Phil has been sharing stories in front of a TV camera for more than 30 years and is arguably the most travelled host on the planet. He hosts and is an executive producer of CBS’s multi-Emmy Award-winning reality series The Amazing Race – now in its 36th season – where international travel is a competitive sport, with pairs of contestants gradually eliminated from the competition if they’re too slow.

Courtesy of Phil Keoghan

“I don’t know why people want to take on these challenges, but I really believe that it’s only by pushing yourself to the borders of suffering and discomfort that you find out who you really are.”

Phil is also show-runner and host of Tough as Nails, a show which puts everyday workers, like tradespeople, firefighters, roadworkers and lines people, through a series of gruelling challenges aimed at testing their strength, endurance, life skills, and mental toughness. Phil co-created the series for CBS with his wife and producing partner Louise Keoghan. Tough As Nails was the #1 New Unscripted Series on U.S. Broadcast when it premiered in the summer of 2020. The show is in its fifth season.

Born in New Zealand, Phil has experienced a life full of travel and adventure, starting at the age of three, when he began travelling around the world with his parents. He has been globetrotting ever since, visiting more than 130 countries.

After leaving school, he started a television apprenticeship, but moved in front of the camera to act in a small role in iconic New Zealand programme Gloss, before joining the presenting team of Spot On, a popular children’s magazine series at the age of 19.

While filming one of his first segments for Spot On, he donned scuba gear and joined a salvage diver inside the sunken Mikhail Lermontov cruise ship. Left alone in the darkened ballroom, he suffered a panic attack, realising he could die there. When he was pulled out of the wreck by his dive buddy, he resolved to return to the wreck the next day and face his fear.

“It was the first time I really stopped to think what dying could mean. I grabbed a pen and paper and wrote down all the things I had to do in life: hand-feed sharks, travel the world, climb Mt Everest, go into space,” he said.

This experience prompted Phil to create a philosophy called BUCKiT, which inspired his career and later became the best-selling book No Opportunity Wasted – Eight Steps to Getting the Most Out of Life. Phil continues to share this Tick-it Before You Kick-it mantra as a regular motivational speaker at colleges and Fortune 500 companies around the world.

Phil moved to the USA in 1992, and began working as a freelance presenter, before auditioning for The Amazing Race in 2000.

Phil’s adventures include riding his bicycle from LA to New York; having a five-star meal on top of an erupting volcano, Mount Stromboli; breaking an unofficial world record bungy jump; putting a golf ball across Scotland; changing a light bulb on top of the Verrazzano Bridge; diving the world’s longest underwater caves; and swimming from Asia to Europe across the Bosporus.

Phil’s most daring challenge to date involved retracing the exact route of the 1928 Tour de France, to honour a long-forgotten New Zealand cycling champion, Harry Watson. Riding an original heavy steel vintage bicycle with no gears and covering an average of 150 miles a day for 26 days, he produced an award-winning documentary with Louise, called Le Ride. It told the ‘underdog’ story of the first English-speaking team to take on the toughest sporting event on earth. Le Ride screened at SXSW and was selected as opening night and Festival Favourite film at several festivals around the world.

Phil has been listed as one of the world’s top 200 Most Influential Philanthropists and Social Entrepreneurs. Collaborating with Louise, they continue to support a range of charities, and achieved a life goal of raising over $1 million for multiple sclerosis.

A proud New Zealander, Phil frequently returns home in times of need, including for the relief efforts after the tragic 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes; the Rena oil spill disaster; as well as campaigning to protect the New Chums Beach, in Coromandel Peninsula, from development.

Inspired to share New Zealand’s magic with the rest of the world, Phil works as an ambassador for Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand. He continues to bring various TV productions to film in his homeland including Discovery Channel, National Geographic, The Travel Channel, CBS News, Smithsonian Channel, and four seasons of The Amazing Race.

Phil’s work has earned him numerous awards, including 10 Primetime Emmy Awards as a producer and host of The Amazing Race; Best Director Award at the 2017 American Documentary Film Festival; the 2018 Sports Documentarian Award from the International Sports Hall of Fame; a World Class New Zealand Award; The Dorothy Corwin Spirit of Life Award for services to MS; a 2012 Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award; and the Endurance Live, Celebrity Athlete of the Year in 2013.

Phil was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in 2014 for his services to television and tourism. Phil lives in Los Angeles with Louise, and their daughter, Elle.

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Explore the Legacy Project

Celebrate the New Zealanders past and present who’ve made a difference in the world.

Explore the Legacy Project

Celebrate the New Zealanders past and present who’ve made a difference in the world.

Explore the Legacy Project

Celebrate the New Zealanders past and present who’ve made a difference in the world.