Amazing Race, Cindy, Ernie

Sonja Flemming/CBS

The Amazing Race winners Ernie Halvorsen and fiancée Cindy Chiang aren't resting on their laurels.

In addition to planning for their March wedding, the determined couple are establishing a charity—funded by their million-dollar prize—to provide education to impoverished children throughout the world.

Read on to hear what the first-place finishers told us today about their amazing race, Cindy's "negative" edit and that cab-driver controversy…

MORE: Get last night's recap

Many viewers of the Emmy magnet's 19th season were upset that frontrunners Andy and Tommy were booted after their competitors' taxi drivers worked together to get them to the finalist-determining pit stop.

"It just as easily could've been to the wrong place—people don't think about that," Cindy told us about their cabbie's confidence that he was driving them to the correct destination. "We put our life in that gentleman's hands," Ernie added. "In reality he could've taken us to the Panama Canal"—the snowboarders' disastrous detour—"too… Communication was pretty tough."  

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Criticized by many fans for her aggressive perfectionism, Cindy admits, "There's a lot of things I wish we had done differently…It's tough to read a lot of the blogs and the reviews because I don't intend to be a bad or negative person or whiny in any way. I knew they cast us because I was so type A and I knew [the editors] would portray it that way, [but] I wish I didn't give [them so much] ammo—you kind of leave it to the editors and the storyline that they want to create for you. The only I can do is learn from this experience and be a better person and be more conscious of the way I may sound to [others]."

Ernie and Cindy credit to their successful race to rigorous and "creative" preparation. In addition to language courses and physical training, they created their own challenge— scarily prescient of the teams' Legoland contest in Denmark. With the TV blasting in the background, the pair tested their teamwork in assembling a Lego toy truck: "We sat back to back and I had to build the truck based on what Cindy [who had the instructions] was trying to tell me. That was probably the most stressful training we did." Cindy agrees: "We really had to work on our communication skills—we're glad we yelled at each other before we went on the show!"

MORE: Hope Cindy and Ernie remember to pay their taxes—unlike Richard Hatch!

One thing the generous teammates didn't plan beforehand was their idea to establish a charitable foundation. "But when we were traveling around we saw there is such a huge need for education globally," said Cindy. "Here in the U.S. we often take for granted that public school is actually free." Ernie pointed out that many children around the world "actually want to go to school, but they just can't fund it." The couple plan to apply their "passion for doing things like the race… to provide tuition and subsidize education globally."

Ironically, the million-dollar winners have just fallen victim to the economic crisis. "My company just went bankrupt last week, so I'm unemployed at the moment," Ernie, now the default wedding planner, revealed. After their nuptials, he said, "Hopefully we can get back on our feet again and get this business started and helping others out."

Are you happy Ernie and Cindy won, or were you rooting for another team? Do you think the snowboarders were victims of a cabbie conspiracy? Sound off below!

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