By Matt Reese
In March of 2018, the Anderson family got more bad news. Randy Anderson, who had been fighting cancer for several years, found out it had spread. His daughter, Casey Heath, wanted to do something to help her father focus on something other than his pain and health issues. At the same time, Casey and her husband were contemplating selling their home in Sandusky so she could move closer to Bluffton to work at Anderson Tractor Supply, the family’s business in northwest Ohio.
The situation prompted Casey to do an unusual Google search to find out about the television game show “Deal or No Deal.”
“Dad was going through a lot of health issues and he is a tremendously big fan of the show. We had gotten some bad news about him and I thought, ‘I’m just going to Google this to see if we can get on the show.’ I had no words for him that could make him feel better, but I thought if I
could do this crazy experience for our family maybe it would be a good distraction and better than any words I could say to him. And, the time was right to move back closer to my home before our kids are in school, so the finances were definitely in the back of our minds too,” Casey said. “I found out the show went off the air in 2009. I didn’t ever realize that because my Dad watches it all the time. He DVRs them and just watches them over and over again. But lo and behold, they were starting it back up in 2018. When I went to apply online I had no knowledge of all that. I probably wouldn’t have ever Googled it if I had known it was off the air. It was a 2-hour long application process. I was originally going to pretend I was my Dad and apply, but then I realized they needed references and all sorts of stories. I couldn’t pretend I was him to do this. My intention going into it was to do it all for my Dad, but I had to do it as myself.
“After that, once a month, if not every other week, I was hearing from them. We had to do a Skype interview and we had to do a game play on Skype with our whole family. Then we had to do a background check. They weed you out. All along the way we never knew if we’d get on the show. Then, they said they’d fly eight of us down to Orlando and they wanted to film in July.”
Casey, her husband, siblings and parents were on the episode that first aired on Dec. 5, 2018. On the show hosted by Howie Mandel, contestants must choose from 26 cases containing dollar amounts ranging from $.01 to $1 million. The game starts with the contestant selecting the case that will not be opened until the end. The player then chooses cases to eliminate one by one in hopes that the last case contains a high dollar amount, which the contestant wins. As the player chooses cases, the dollar amounts are revealed and eliminated. Periodically as more cases are opened, the contestant is offered sums of money to buy the last case and end the game. The contestant has to decide to take the offer or continue opening cases in hopes of getting more in future offers or in the final case. The offers vary depending on the dollar amounts that remain in play.
“We flew into Orlando and we had to be at the studio at noon the next day. When you get there, you go through hair and wardrobe. Then the producers help keep you calm by having you practice telling your story. I never met Howie Mandel until I stepped on the stage. We were the third show they were filming that day,” Casey said. “When I went on stage I was kind of having an out of body experience. I was freaking out a little and nervous about telling my story. An important question you have to answer is what we would use the money for. Many people can relate to moving home and working at a family business. After the introductions were over, you just pick cases and go for it.”
The episode featuring Casey and her family had a unique twist. Casey was onstage with most of her family nearby to advise her. She was given the choice to eliminate a family member each round for $5,000.
“They did not warn me that they were going to do the eliminate-family-members thing. They do different things like that for every show. On one show, they had a guy cut off his beard for $10,000. They make each one different. Eliminating family members was so hard because I knew what all they did to get there. They had to do background checks and have people watch their kids and take off work. They worked so hard to be there and then I had to eliminate them,” Casey said. “That was not much fun, but $5,000 per person was enough that they all said ‘Send me out of here.’”
Finally it was just Casey, Howie and Randy. Casey was given the chance to send her Dad away for an additional $5,000 in the final round of the game. She declined the money and kept her Dad on stage for a few more minutes. Those last few minutes with her Dad on stage, and his expert advice from watching the show, were worth much more than $5,000, Casey said.
The experience was even more special because they shipped Randy’s actual recliner from home to place on the stage of the show.
“Through the whole process I kept telling the producer that this was about my Dad. The producer asked if my Dad had a chair he sits in all the time. My Dad sits in a reclining rocking chair. The producer asked if there was any way we could get the chair to them. Because of Anderson Tractor, we could. My sister works at a furniture store and she got a recliner box and we shipped it,” Casey said. “We told Dad that my younger brother had broken his chair and that it had to be shipped out to be repaired. We wrapped it up and shipped it by truck to Florida for the show. They paid to get it shipped there.”With his chair onstage, Randy got to advise his daughter and chat with Howie.
“Dad is funny and he did not change who he was for Howie,” Casey said. “He even asked, ‘Have you ever seen this show, Howie?’ We always laugh at that part. Howie said back, ‘Honestly, not from this angle’ as he sat in my Dad’s chair onstage. Dad will never get rid of that recliner now that Howie Mandel sat in it.”
Casey did well with her selections and the offers got higher as she opened more cases. She turned down several offers for high dollar figures.
“The amounts they were offering me were crazy. One side of my brain was telling me, ‘You’re turning down $70,000?’” Casey said. “I am a really conservative person but I was brave enough to go as far as my Dad thought I should with his strategy. I ended up getting a low number in the last case I picked and my offer went way up.”
When the show was over, the last offer and the money she’d made sending family members away totaled $133,000 — enough to make the financial leap for Casey to return to the family business and build a house with her husband and two children. The family memories from the experience have no price tag.
“God intervened and gave us the gift of that distraction. Dad just lights up when we talk about the show,” Casey said. “When you see it now you remember things differently. Now when we watch it I can tell that it is a delight to my Dad. It makes us laugh and cry and have all of these emotions every time.”
To see highlights from the show, visit: dealornodeal.cnbc.com/video/2018/12/06/casey-heath-describes-her-experience-on-deal-or-no-deal-as-the-most-epic-ride.html.