By ASHLEY ANDERSON
At age 5, Kristen Willinger knew exactly which four relatives would compile her Family Feud dream team.
On Jan. 31, her long-envisioned roster came to life on the small screen, when Kristen, along with her sister Katie and cousins Susan, Kelly and Kenny, took the stage of â€œFamily Feudâ€ hosted by Steve Harvey.
The Willinger familyâ€™s 15 minutes of fame didnâ€™t end that Thursday, however. Achieving a five-episode win streak, the cousins experienced an outcome none had anticipated. â€œWe won!â€ Kelly exclaimed. â€œWe won $20,000, and we won a car, and we took the money for the car, so total we got $45,000 to $50,000, so therefore we each got $10,000 (before taxes).â€
It was a victory the Willingers figured improbable following their final audition in Atlanta last June. â€œWe were nervous and uptight, and we sucked,â€ Kenny recalled. â€œWe went in thinking weâ€™re for sure going to be on (the show), and we came off the stage thinking weâ€™re for sure not going to be on, or weâ€™re very borderline.â€ Anxiously watching several families head on stage before them, the Willingers were the second-to-last group summoned to take a swing at the showâ€™s survey questions. â€œIt was a huge relief we got on,â€ Kenny said. â€œThen we didnâ€™t worry about anything, letâ€™s just have fun.â€
One person who had her share of fun during the contest was Kristen, who claimed sheâ€™s the most innocent of the cousins, though her responses to the questions were arguably the raunchiest. â€œI gave three answers that were borderline raunchy, but two of the three were on (the board), so I feel like everyone should back off,â€ she laughed. â€œBut (the questions) purposely set you up for these answers.â€
Local attorney Marilyn Eiferman can attest to the seemingly risquÃ© nature of the program compared to the Family Feud of the past. She participated as a contestant last November, almost three decades after kissing Richard Dawson on television as a member of the â€œHartley Family.â€
Maintaining the â€œHartley Familyâ€ bill for her second shot at Fast Money, the surveysâ€™ subject matter wasnâ€™t all that changed for Eiferman this time around. â€œTwenty eight years ago when we tried out, it was kind of a different cast, so to speak,â€ she grinned. â€œI had a different husband, my brother was on instead of my sister-in-law (Linda Fowler), I was pregnant with (my son Chris Hartley), and, of course, (my) 18-year-old (son, Andrew Eiferman) wasnâ€™t born.â€
While Marilynâ€™s history with the show helped draw the casting producerâ€™s attention, her familyâ€™s quirky character also stood out amongst the crowd during local auditions held at Ashley Furniture in February of 2011. The family dressed rather extravagantly, donning their finest Derby attire during competition. Richâ€™s pink neon coat in particular caught the eye of host Harvey, a sharp dresser himself.
Though the Hartley family didnâ€™t win their contest, they found themselves reaping plenty of fame and surprising benefits following their episodeâ€™s airing. An ad for LASIK surgery Rich ran in a newspaper nearly 20 years ago surfaced on â€œThe Tonight Show with Jay Leno,â€ as Leno pointed out â€œ1,000 people a day need laser vision correction surgery, apparently the doctor, wearing his glasses, doesnâ€™t think so,â€ Marilyn recited.
Chris also fell victim to satire during â€œJimmy Kimmel Live,â€ as the eponymous host broadcast a segment of â€œThis Week in Unnecessary Censorshipâ€ featuring a doctored clip of Chris on Family Feud.
Aside from comedic consequences, the family also received congratulatory phone calls, mail and praise from coworkers, patients, friends, plus Wake Forest University, which accepted Andrew after he submitted an essay on his Family Feud experience. â€œWhether we won or not, it was just an awesome experience,â€ Marilyn said. â€œ(Itâ€™s) something weâ€™ll never forget.â€
At the same time the Willingers and Eifermans eagerly awaited the airing of their episodes this winter, another local was busy racking up prizes on a different game show, â€œThe Price Is Right.â€ Last October, Lynda Huckaby of Prospect, Ky. stopped by CBS Television City to sit in on a taping of the game show while in Los Angeles to visit her daughter Steffany and young granddaughter.
Waiting four hours in line, Lynda never suspected sheâ€™d take part in the on-stage action, yet her name was the second called to â€œcome on downâ€ by announcer George Gray. Following the third round of bidding, Lynda made her way on stage next to host Drew Carey to test her skill in golf for a chance to win a brand new Toyota. â€œI donâ€™t even play golf but I hit a hole in one,â€ she said with excitement.
The luck didnâ€™t stop there. Lynda proceeded to spin the iconic wheel, obtaining the final spot in the showcase showdown. Estimating the cost of a red Mazda convertible, 6-day/5-night stay in Newport and Providence, R.I., plus a Sony movie camera, Lynda ousted her competition to take home the grand prize. â€œEvery once in awhile Iâ€™ll win something but nothing major like this,â€ Lynda said. â€œI guess God was just with me that day. I was fortunate enough not to even need a new car, but my daughter took the convertible and they (swapped) it for a Crossover. I sold the Toyota and gave the money to my son in Crestwood.â€
Lynda, like most every game show contestant, had to remain tight-lipped about her success until the showâ€™s broadcast. Now that her episode has been viewed by the public, the outpouring of recognition has been well worth the secrecy. But, like the other Louisville game show families, itâ€™s neither the money nor the acknowledgement thatâ€™s most rewarding for Lynda. Rather, itâ€™s the experience shared with relatives and friends, as well as the unforgettable memories of a moment some only dream of as children.
â€œ(The best part was) sharing the winnings with my children,â€ Lynda said. â€œI was really glad I could do that, and I just had a really good time.â€