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Alaska Native Woman wins on Deal or No Deal

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  • Alaska Native Woman wins on Deal or No Deal

    From by way of Anchorage Daily News:

    Anchorage Daily News

    (Published: April 3, 2007)

    When the TV game show "Deal or No Deal" announced Monday night that Alaskan Heidi Kurtz had won a satisfying $204,000, the bubbly single mother, watching at her South Anchorage home, crumpled against her grandmother and broke down sobbing.

    "Finally," she said. And the swell of family members around her broke into applause.

    For Kurtz -- a national celebrity since her first appearance on the show last week -- this has been a grueling exercise in guarding the amount of her winnings from those closest to her. In fact, she's known since the show was taped in February how much she ended up with but had to keep the secret on pain of forfeiting the money.

    "I feel really, really relieved, like this huge pressure is off, and it's done," Kurtz said. "No more keeping a secret."

    She turned to the room full of some 50 friends and family members, and said, "I won $204,000."

    Everyone went nuts, clapping and cheering, squeezed into the basement of the house Kurtz rents with boyfriend Paul Hurley, his sister and Kurtz's three sons -- ages 9, 7 and 4.

    Anticipation was high: When last week's show ended, Kurtz had lost the show's top prize of $1 million, but still had a chance at $750,000.

    Kurtz's appearance was also successful because of how she burst through people's TV screens with kinetic energy, bouncing with pride in her Native culture. She work kuspuks, sampled a bit of Yup'ik dancing and spoke of wanting a better life for her three young sons.

    "And oh my gosh, it was nerve-wracking," she said Monday. "It was the most stressful, most exciting thing. Picking the cases was do or die for me. I wanted to do well for my boys."

    "Deal or No Deal" features models holding 25 briefcases that, when opened at the contestant's request, show dollar amounts up to $1 million. One briefcase is chosen by the contestant at the start and stays closed until the end. The player gambles that her suitcase is worth big money.

    The likelihood of this becomes clearer as the other cases are opened, revealing their worth. Periodically, an anonymous "banker" offers the player a tempting sum of money to stop gambling.

    When last Monday's episode ended, the banker offered Kurtz $90,000. When the show resumed on Kurtz's TV screen Monday, to the glee of her family, she rejected the offer and chose to keep playing.

    She went on to reject offers of $79,000, then $141,000.

    Turning down the offers was hard, Kurtz said. "But I thought, you know what? I've got to make this (offer) go back up. I really need some help here from a higher power."

    Throughout the show, Kurtz cheered, giggled and wept. Watching it was a refresher for her, she said. She'd forgotten some of what happened.

    Finally, the end: The banker offered $204,000, and she accepted.

    When they opened her briefcase, it was worth $200,000. She had made the right choice.

    Back at home Monday, Kurtz said the experience, overall, was just unreal.

    Now, the $204,000 question: What will she do with the money, or what's left after taxes?

    Kurtz plans to keep her job as a dental assistant and has no plans to move.

    She does want a new car -- something safe and dependable, with four-wheel drive. She plans to set aside money so her boys can play sports and go to college.

    "And I've got debt to way up here," Kurtz said. "I want to pay my debt, and start a life with good credit."

    She has been continually touched by people who have told her how great it was to see an Alaska Native on prime-time TV, wearing Native clothes, dancing the cultural dances, even speaking Yup'ik.

    "It made me feel really proud that I could be on there and be myself and be proud of my culture," Kurtz said. "That's amazing."
    Don't ever stop dancing

  • #2
    I saw this show - she was the cutest! I was almost crying myself when she won - I was so happy for her!


    • #3
      You should have seen her on the news here that night... she had to wait 2 and a half months till the show aired and wait till it was over to let people know how much she won. Oh she was adorable was'nt she??? She was wearing her grandma's kuspuk on the show!
      Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


      • #4
        I saw it also. She was so full of life and was smart to take the money when she did. It's nice to see a native face on national t.v.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tlinkamoe View Post
          I saw it also. She was so full of life and was smart to take the money when she did. It's nice to see a native face on national t.v.
          I second that...but I didn't get a chance to see the show. Good for her!
          Be beautiful, be proud.


          • #6
            I just want to say that it was inspirational watching Heidi go through the complete range of emotions while keeping her composure while giving the nation a taste of Eskimo culture.

            On top of that, she made the best choice available at every given moment during the game. Did not get greedy and thought of others around her during the whole game.

            I still have the show recorded on my TiVo and I have watched it again several times when I needed a boost for the day.

            99% of the time, money can't buy happiness.... I believe in Heidi's case... it will.

            note: this is a one time post from a person who lives in Hermosa Beach, CA. I have been to Alaska twice on two beautiful cruises, but I regret I didn't spend the time while I was there learning more about the native people and culture. I will not make that mistake when I return.


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