We all have those moments as we watch game shows when we think, ‘I could do that! I’d be great on Wheel of Fortune,’ or ‘I know a lot about a variety of topics…I’d love to be on Jeopardy.’ However, most of us will never get the opportunity to be a contestant on, let alone, actually say we won on, a game show. But Robert Evans, a speech pathologist from Clemmons, NC, recently won $185,000 on the newly revamped Deal Or No Deal. Robert’s journey to being a big winner is quite the story…
Growing up in Yadkinville, NC, Robert Evans had many interests including acting and setting his sights on being on TV, two things that you may think were unattainable for him. Robert’s acting began at Forbush High School and stopped there for 25 years, while he focused on getting his BS in Education and his Master of Sciences degree, both from Western Carolina University. With his education, Robert became a preschool speech-language pathologist, first working for Davie County Schools, then for One Step at a Time Therapy Services, before in 2011, returning to public schools working for the Preschool Intake Department of Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools. Five years ago, the acting bug bit Robert again and he started performing in productions with the Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance. With a rewarding career and an enjoyable outlet for his love of theatre, you’d think that maybe the ‘I want to be on TV’ goal would’ve passed, but not so.
“In May 2018, I saw an ad on Facebook saying that Deal Or No Deal was being revived on CNBC for winter 2018. I submitted an online application and a short video that captured my personality. You need to set yourself apart from others, so I mentioned my family ties to Booger Swamp Road in Yadkinville, along with my love of soap operas in the video and application. How often do you see a 47-year-old man who knows the history of most soap operas?” said Robert. That eclectic personality makeup caught the attention of a casting producer. With follow-up calls and being told by producers that they loved ‘his energy, enthusiasm, and story,’ and playing a mock version of Deal Or No Deal with friends to show to producers, Robert was chosen a couple months later to go to the taping in Florida. He was told, however, ‘you aren’t playing until you are actually on stage.’ Regardless, Robert got his besties together, along with his aunt, Mattie Gay Swisher, from Yadkinville, NC, taking her first ever plane ride and flew to Universal Studios in August 2018. But little did Robert know, there was a very special surprise waiting for him during the show.
During his years as a speech-language pathologist, Robert met and helped a little boy, Xavier Harris, learn to speak and express himself at the age of two. Robert and Xavier have a special bond, and Robert shared Xavier’s story with the Deal Or No Deal producers when asked about a rewarding time in his work as a speech pathologist. In fact, the producers were so touched by the story, that they flew Xavier and his family to Orlando, FL, for the taping to surprise Robert.
“I hadn’t seen Xavier for several years until he came to the show; I didn’t recognize him at first, but Howie Mandel, the show’s host, walked over to where Xavier and his family were sitting, and he asked if I knew him. I saw Xavier’s mom, Kim, and fell to my knees on stage and started crying. Pretty much everyone in the audience and with the show was crying. It’s a moment I will never forget,” Robert recalled. With his supporters cheering him on, Robert took the whole experience of a lifetime in, every moment, and lived it to the fullest.
Sounds like a pretty good deal!
“I selected case 11 as the case I thought had a million dollars. I played down to 5 cases being left, keeping the million dollars in play the entire game. During my last round, the Banker, who oversees the show from behind the scenes, offered me $139,000 for my case and I made a counteroffer of $185,000, and she accepted it. Howie opened my case, and it had $750 in it, so I made a great decision to take the money. I am 47 years old, and I actually got to fulfill a bucket list item of appearing on a game show. Now, with my winnings, a local humane society will receive a sizable contribution, as this was one of my platforms of appearing on the show. I also hope to take a trip to New York City to see as many shows as possible. My debt will hopefully be gone, and I am going to put a down payment on a home. My 12-year-old dog, Aurora, needs a backyard. I also hope to help some local charities,” Robert said.