America Supports You: Military Spouse Competes on Game Show
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2006 The wife of a Marine from Camp Lejeune, N.C., got more than she bargained for as a contestant on NBC's game show "Deal or No Deal" last night.
Renee Stokes, whose husband, Marine Staff Sgt. Justin Stokes, is currently deployed to Iraq, was the second contestant of the night on the high-pressure show that allows people to try for cash prizes up to $1,000,000 in a game of odds and chance.
Stokes was joined on stage by her best friend, her mother-in-law, and a family friend. The show allows contestants to bring family members and friends on stage to offer advice at crucial decision-making points.
Stokes and the other three women were wearing "America Supports You" lapel pins. America Supports You is the Defense Department's program to recognize citizen support for military men and women and to communicate that support to members of the armed forces at home and abroad.
At the show's beginning, Stokes said she and her husband had just celebrated their one-year anniversary, but it was a lonely celebration because he was in Iraq. She said if she won the $1,000,000 prize, she would buy herself a motorcycle to match the one she and her husband bought right after they got married.
After Stokes had played the game for three rounds and had to make a decision of whether to make a "deal" and accept a cash amount instead of continuing with the game, she was given a huge surprise by host Howie Mandel.
"This is a tough decision, a big decision, and I know you brought supporters and family. I also know that your biggest supporter is not here," Mandel said. "This is a time you have to make a serious decision. You've got to get as much help as you can possibly get."
As Mandel finished saying this, Stokes' husband, Justin, appeared on a large video screen via satellite from Fallujah, Iraq. Justin's appearance was greeted by screaming and applause from Stokes, her family and friends, and the audience.
"I already won my million," Stokes said, referring to her chance to see Justin.
Justin was able to provide advice and encouragement to Stokes throughout the rest of the show, with the help of Marines from his unit who were assembled behind him.
At one point in the show, "Tonight" talk show host Jay Leno made an appearance, presenting a motorcycle of the exact model Stokes wanted. The show's "banker" was throwing the motorcycle into the deal to try to convince Stokes to abandon her pursuit of the big money. After consulting Justin, Stokes said no to the deal, but Leno didn't leave without thanking the troops for their service.
"I want to thank you for all your service," Leno said to Justin and the other Marines. "We really appreciate what you men and women are doing."
Justin's mother, Judy, who was on stage with Stokes, then tearfully addressed her son.
"Dad and I love you, and I have your Marine necklace on and your bracelet that you gave me," she said.
Justin's father was in the audience and was also emotional as he spoke to his son. "We love you. Be good and get home safe," he said.
In the end, Stokes won $28,000 on the show, which she said was still enough to buy her motorcycle.
Mandel thanked the military for making the connection to Iraq possible and for America Supports You.
"I'd like to thank America Supports You. That's the organization supporting our troops and their families," Mandel said.