KEARNEY, Neb. — Amy Burns of Kearney credits four and a half cups of “good, old hotel black coffee” — along with her corn costume — with landing her a spot as a contestant on CBS’s “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Her journey to TV started in May, when the special education teacher at Kearney’s Horizon Middle School traveled with friend Heidi Tunks of Hastings to California to visit Kelly Tomlinson, who lives near Los Angeles. The three friends often take vacations together.
“We all grew up in O’Neill and we’ve known each other since we were in elementary school,” Burns said. “We always like to go on a girls trip together. We decided to go to California and visit Kelly.”
Tomlinson suggested that they all attend the taping of the CBS television show, “Let’s Make a Deal.”
“Why not? It’s free. It’s a good choice,” Burns recalled. “I had a costume made by Roni Willson, who teaches with me here at Horizon Middle School. I first wore it while doing a 10K run called the Cornfield to Cornfield Run.”
The friends knew that an unusual costume would increase their chances of getting picked to be on the show.
“I told Heidi and Kelly that I had a corn outfit and who wouldn’t have somebody from Nebraska go on the show wearing a corn outfit?”
Just getting to California involved a hassle with her costume. Burns had intended to pack the corn costume in her carry-on luggage.
“If I did that, I would only have my corn outfit because it was so big,” she said. “I wouldn’t have room for my other clothes.”
She ended up spending extra money to include the costume as her checked baggage.
Because Burns already had her costume, her friends scrambled to toss together costumes.
“What would go along with corn?” Burns wondered. “A farmer and a scarecrow.”
Burns admits to having lots of energy on a daily basis, but after drinking four and a half cups of coffee, she was buzzed. She soon learned that the producers of “Let’s Make a Deal” look for contestants with lots of energy.
The three friends interviewed for the show along with about 100 other people.
“There were several places where we had to act very excited, over and beyond,” Burns said. “They would choose you because of how crazy or hyper you were. I thought, yeah, we’re not coming all this way for nothing. We’re going to make sure that we’re on.”
Burns, Tunks and Tomlinson had to give up their cellphones and sign agreements that limited how much they could say about the show before it aired. They then boarded a bus to travel to the studio for the show.
“The bus was another place where you had to act excited, over and beyond,” Burns said. “I’m a high-five person so I wasn’t sitting on the bus — I was going up and down the aisle and giving high-fives. I didn’t know everybody’s names on the bus, but they knew me as ‘Corn’ and ‘High-Five’ from Nebraska. That’s what counted. The four and a half cups of coffee were still kicking in.”
As soon as the taping began, Burns heard someone call her name.
“My name was called first and it was, ‘Corn, let’s make a deal!’ and I was very, very, very hyper,” she said. “Oh, my gosh, I am going on the show as a contestant next to Wayne Brady. And here I am.”
When asked whether the experience was fun, Burns said, “Fun doesn’t even describe it. Fun is a three-letter word that is used way too much. I think it was more like amazing. You’re out of character because you’re doing whatever you can to get there. It was crazy and fun and the best memory that my best friends and I can ever have.”
Without revealing if she won any money, Burns admitted that it was totally worth the cost of checking her costume and paying the extra money to the airline.
“A hundred bucks? Why not?” she said.