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A woman in costume stands on a game show stage with a host in this image from Fremantle North America.
That's me bantering with “Let’s Make a Deal” host Wayne Brady — which was a lot of fun. (Image: Fremantle North America)

When I was 8 years old, I was chosen from the audience to be a contestant on a local broadcast affiliate station’s Sunday morning version of “Bozo’s Circus.” I remember playing the “Pin the Nose on the Boze” game and then, in the final challenge, tossing pingpong balls into fake fire hydrants. The only prize I recall was a pair of Bozo the Clown sneaker snappers. Since then, I’ve always wanted to up my game (pun intended) and be a contestant on another game show. I especially wanted to compete on a celebrity-hosted one given there are so many of them now.

Fast forward to June of last year. I was down in the dumps after a shake-up at San Diego's regional sports network that resulted in a loss of work, so I took to both LinkedIn and Craigslist to start pursuing various jobs and opportunities. When I first saw a Craigslist post seeking contestants for “Let's Make a Deal,” it immediately struck my interest. I’m a pro at putting myself out there and having fun, and I’ve always had a lucky streak. Plus, I was familiar with the show and a big fan of host Wayne Brady from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and Showtime’s “American Gigolo.” I had to apply.

So, what's it really like being a contestant on “Let's Make a Deal”? Now that my episode has finally aired, I can share all the details.

What’s the 'Let’s Make a Deal' Casting Process Like?

A man’s hand holds a small blue box labeled Let’s Make a Deal in this image from Fremantle North America.
As soon as I got my first phone call from the “Let's Make a Deal” casting team, I was hoping to make a deal and walk away with a large prize. (Image: Fremantle North America)

The biggest surprise with the “Let's Make a Deal” casting process was how fast it all moved. From the time I replied to the Craigslist ad to when I got my first offer to appear on a specific taping day, only a couple of weeks had passed.

After I responded to the ad, the first step in the process was a quick phone call with a third-party casting agency. I vetted it online to be sure the whole thing was legitimate. After the initial call, we scheduled a Zoom interview a few days later. This chat was short — they asked me questions about myself, some games I’d like to play on the show, and which prizes I’d like to win. I was my normal upbeat and expressive self; they told me I nailed the interview and should expect a call with a tape date for a future episode.

About a week later, I got the call while on vacation in Massachusetts. They wanted me to come to Los Angeles within days! Heartbreakingly, I had to pass because of our family vacation, but I assured them I was interested in another date. A week or so later, I got another invitation that didn’t fit with my work schedule for the San Diego Padres.

But the third time was the charm — an email I received less than a month after initial contact had a date that worked for me. I was officially confirmed for a taping. At that point, I read through the show's requirements and expectations, and eventually got my official booking letter and a contestant packet from the casting department that I had to sign. A nondisclosure agreement was part of that paperwork, but don't worry — I'm not breaking that NDA with this article!

The most important reminder I was given throughout the casting process was that there was no guarantee I'd get on stage as a “trader” (contestant) with Wayne, but with the current format of the show, the chances would be decent. All potential contestants are in the show's audience, but not every audience member gets to be a contestant. I felt optimistic and started manifesting winning a significant prize — preferably a new car.

How Did I Prepare to Be a 'Let’s Make a Deal' Contestant?

A woman holds her hand near her head in worry in this image from Fremantle North America.
I was definitely nervous to be a contestant, but everything worked out fine. (Image: Fremantle North America)

Once my contestant paperwork was in, the next step was picking a guest to accompany me as a fellow audience member and getting our costumes approved. Audience costumes are one of the show's signature gimmicks, and there’s a lot of freedom in choosing one. It’s a daytime show, so “family friendly” is key, and the more creative, the better. I floated a few ideas to the producers involving a bee or soccer theme, given my role as a “Yellowjackets” podcaster. They eventually approved my honey costume and my good friend Dana’s as a bee.

The taping was set for early August with a 7:30 a.m. arrival time at the show's Los Angeles studio location. The show doesn’t cover gas or lodging for potential contestants or their guests. San Diego is about two hours from L.A. by car. I stage-managed the San Diego Padres game the night before the big day, so Dana and I drove straight to L.A. after the game and spent the night at a hotel a few miles away from the studio. We arrived around 1 a.m. and woke around 6 a.m., so we were both exhausted. It showed on my face when I watched the episode months later!

We brought our costumes (including a sign I created), water bottles, and cell phones, and each of us had a large bag with a variety of random items for potential “Quickie Deals.” These are short segments at the end of the show where the emcees select an audience member and ask if they have a particular item in their bag. If they do, they get a cash prize. My bag was stuffed with items such as condiments, a binder clip, a thermometer, and a spoon.

What Happens When You Arrive at a 'Let’s Make a Deal' Taping?

A woman in a black dress stands in front of a blue curtain and monitor in this image from Fremantle North America.
Little did I know when I arrived, I’d be taking on the job of “Let’s Make a Deal” model Tiffany Coyne. (Image: Fremantle North America)

Upon our arrival on the taping day, we gathered in the studio's parking area with other potential contestants and their guests as security screened us before letting us into the building. Once inside, we were lined up and had our photos taken as producers seemed to roam about and start scoping out the potential players. I made sure to keep my energy up from the moment I got out of the car in hopes it would help my chances of getting selected. I think it did.

The next few hours were spent doing one-on-one producer interviews, getting to know the other possible contestants, and getting briefed on the filming process. The incredible team of producers did a fantastic job explaining how the day would go, including setting the expectations for audience members and providing demonstrations and tips to keep up the enthusiasm. I was also impressed with the level of costume creativity among my fellow hopefuls.

We watched clips of past episodes showing us the types of expressions producers wanted to see. I enjoyed it when they gave all potential contestants a microphone prop to walk around with and speak into to increase comfort and familiarity. Then we were set to record two episodes over an eight-hour period. As we would later discover, one edition would air in February 2024 and the other in March.

What’s It Like Inside the 'Let’s Make a Deal' Studio?

A studio audience wearing costumes stands and cheers in this image from Fremantle North America.
The “Let’s Make a Deal” studio was bright, exciting, and a little smaller than I expected. (Image: Fremantle North America)

The potential contestants and our guests spent a few hours in a “holding room” ahead of the tapings. After eating our complimentary boxed lunches (courtesy of Subway), everyone brought their cell phones to their vehicles. For security and confidentiality reasons, they’re not allowed inside the studio during tapings. After that, we were finally escorted to the actual filming stage. It felt surreal seeing it in person, especially because it’s a lot smaller than it looks on TV. Having worked in television studios before, I know that’s not uncommon, and it's a testament to the camera crew that it looks larger than life on the small screen.

Studio seating was assigned in a pod format that producers seemed to adjust as they got to know the would-be contestants in the holding room. Dana and I were placed in a highly visible spot directly behind Wayne, so we were on camera quite a bit during both episodes. The anticipation was building, and I was starting to get nervous. Finally, the first taping was about to begin. Would I be selected as a trader to make a deal? I sure hoped so.

What Happened During My 'Let’s Make a Deal' Contestant Moment?

A woman in costume stands on a platform surrounded by music equipment in this image from Fremantle North America.
I still can’t believe I had the opportunity to showcase prizes for “Let’s Make a Deal” traders! (Image: Fremantle North America)

Filming the first episode went by so fast. I was slightly concerned that I hadn’t been selected as a contestant yet, but I kept my energy up and stayed positive. In between tapings, staffers came around with chocolate candy for a quick sugar infusion for the audience, and after a few minutes, the second episode was underway.

Wayne called my name first, marking the start of my seven-minute-plus segment as an official “Let's Make a Deal” contestant. I had no idea it would be so lengthy! It was actually even longer, but they edited out some of the interactions in post-production. The adrenaline kicked in almost immediately, and my heart raced as I ran on stage, grabbed my mic, said hello, and dropped my sign within a matter of moments. I was so nervous but did my best to banter back and forth with Wayne. He asked me about my work and even performed a little skit about me being a stage manager for the Padres. It was hilarious.

The show sometimes does a bit where they “fire” Wayne's assistant, Tiffany Coyne, and have a contestant take over for her. Turns out, that's exactly what they wanted me to do. My job was to reveal prizes (or “Zonks”) for two contestants. I did my best hostess impression and tried to stay upbeat and fun.

Finally, Wayne brought me back up on the contestant platform for my own deal opportunity. I won’t spoil it, but I won an exciting prize and was happy with the result. As a matter of fact, the alternative prize option I turned down (without knowing what it was at first) wouldn’t have been suitable given my tendency to get seasick — that's right, I unwittingly passed up a cruise! Prizes aren’t delivered until after the episode airs, which I learned in the prize document email I received within a week of the taping.

I’m really glad I was selected as a contestant because if I’d been chosen to pursue a “Quickie Deal,” that would have been my only deal of the day — contestants are allowed to play only one game. In the end, there was no need to use my giant bag of random items, but that was fine by me.

Once production wrapped, I wasn’t allowed to disclose to anyone that I was a contestant or that I won prizes until the episode aired. I spent the next few months questioning whether or not I would do everything the same if I had the chance to do it all over again. Maybe I would’ve chosen differently with my prize. I was also worried I made a gigantic fool of myself! The experience lasted just over seven minutes, but it felt more like seven seconds. I second-guessed everything afterward, as I tend to do.

When Did My 'Let’s Make a Deal' Episode Finally Air?

A streaming platform’s home screen is pictured in this image from Paramount+.
I'm famous! “Let’s Make a Deal” used my image in the episode preview on the show's streaming page. (Image: Paramount+)

Following the tapings, we learned our episodes would air during Season 15. Episode 87 aired on Feb. 2, and my contestant appearance, Episode 106, aired on March 7. That morning, I woke up to delightful texts from my East Coast family and friends who’d seen it, which was reassuring. I watched promptly at 9 a.m. PT on CBS. It wasn’t as bad as I feared! I even giggled at myself. I didn’t notice it when we taped the episode, but I liked that Wayne ended our segment with a comment about starting the show off on a good note. Combined with my prize, I'd say my appearance was a success.

My kids, family, friends, and fans of my “Yellowjackets” podcast all shared screenshots with me, and I enjoyed the positive feedback. As the cherry on top of the experience, once the episode dropped on Paramount+ later that day, my friend let me know they used my photo in the episode preview and descriptor: “This LMAD is sweeter than honey!” I personally would’ve picked another still of me, but it was flattering to be featured right on the show's homepage.

Tips to Get Selected as a 'Let’s Make a Deal' Contestant

A woman in costume knocks on a large box in this image from Fremantle North America.
What’s inside the box I'm knocking on? You’ll have to watch the episode to find out! (Image: Fremantle North America)

Now that my “Let's Make a Deal” experience has come to an end, I highly recommend the opportunity to anyone who would like to compete on a game show. My advice? Bring the energy — from the first phone call with the casting agency to the Zoom interview to the subsequent phone calls and interactions to the time you pull into the studio's parking lot on taping day. Enthusiasm, fun, and pep are keys to the show's unique vibe. A creative costume, props, and a cool guest (thanks, Dana!) will also help you stand out.

In terms of gameplay, it’s truly a game of luck. There’s very little strategy, and they make each segment as fun and engaging as possible. No matter what mini-game you play, choice you make, or deal you get, the overall experience is an absolute blast. Sure, expending all that energy is tiring — Dana and I were both pretty spent by the end of the day — but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that goes by in a blur and is absolutely worth it.

My timeline from seeing the Craigslist casting ad to my episode airing was nine months. It felt like an eternity waiting for my big contestant moment to be public, but I'm so glad I can finally share this behind-the-scenes story. Thank you, “Let’s Make a Deal,” for choosing me! If you ever want to have me back, I'd say you've got yourself a deal.

Stream “Let’s Make a Deal” on Paramount+.

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