Five cousins, including an Andover Elementary School teacher, competed on three “Family Feud” shows that aired Feb. 12-14 on The CW Twin Cities with host Steve Harvey.
“It was so much more than I ever could have expected,” said Jen Myers, who is in her 14th year with the Anoka-Hennepin School District and currently teaches fourth-graders at Andover Elementary School. “The number one thing was it was all about family.”
Jen, her sister Jess Dreischmeier of Minneapolis, and their cousins Jillian Anderson of Minneapolis, Nicholle Parrish of Plymouth and Michelle Turnberg of Fargo, N.D., are all grandchildren of Dean and Marilyn Turnberg of Brooklyn Park, who have been married for 64 years.
“We cherish our grandparents and any time we get to spend with them,” Jessica said. “They were able to watch the show taping and they all really enjoyed the experience.”
Jess and Jillian thought up the idea of competing on “Family Feud” when the show was on in the background while they were at Jillian’s downtown Minneapolis condo. Jess said when they found out that blood related contestants and not just a father, mother and children could be on the show, they all thought it would be fun to try out for the show under the Turnberg name. Jen and Jess grew up in Ramsey. Jillian and Nicholle are also sisters.
The Turnberg family sang their grandmother’s favorite song, “You are my sunshine” during a five-minute introduction video they sent to “Family Feud.” Within a day, they were asked to be on the show.
The first proposed date conflicted with Jess’ wedding day, so the show executives suggested an alternative date of July 24, 2012 that was just a couple of days after her honeymoon.
They flew out to Atlanta, Ga., in late July with the expectation they would be on the show, but soon found out there was no guarantee. Five shows are taped each day. There were 10 families who had the opportunity to be on television and they stay on until they lose.
The Turnberg family was called up for the third of the five shows being taped that day to face the Troutman family from Atlanta.
The game went back and forth, but they pulled out a last minute victory on the question, “Name one way someone can go from rags to riches.” The Turnbergs correctly guessed winning the lottery, hard work and inheritance, but got three strikes when guessing marrying into wealth, doing well in the stock market and being discovered.
The Troutman family only had to guess the one remaining answer to steal the round and the game from the Turnbergs, but their guess of winning a lawsuit settlement was incorrect. Those surveyed felt inventing something was a surer way to become rich.
There was some potential controversy in the final round when Jen and Michelle had to accumulate 200 points between them by guessing how most of the 100 married women surveyed answered five questions. Jen went first, while Michelle stood in the back, unable to hear what her cousin was saying.
The first question posed to 100 married women was how long before their birthday does their husband buy their gift. Jen and Michelle both correctly guessed the number one answer was the day of, but Michelle had to say something else because the game requires two different answers. Michelle quickly said “the day before.”
Harvey started to read the next question, but the buzzer sounded again. Although Michelle quickly said, “two days before” even though she did not need to give another answer.
The other cousins squeezed each other’s hands a little tighter when this happened and panicked a bit, Jess said. Michelle lost a few seconds and was unable to answer the final question.
Fortunately, Jen and Michelle did not need Michelle’s final answer to break the 200-point barrier and win $20,000 on the first day.
This was the number one thing people talked to her about when they saw the show, Jen said. She believes Michelle would have got a couple extra seconds had her final answer not brought them above 200 points because a show producer sits in the front row and tracks all the points.
The Turnberg family competed in two more shows before losing to the Lago family from Louisiana in the third show.
Although they won $20,000 during the first show alone, their final total was not much higher than this. They got nothing the third show because the Lagos won and they did not get to 200 points during the final portion of the second show, so they only got $5 for every point they earned in that final round.
However, “Family Feud” does pay for travel expenses and paid for two nights lodging at an Atlanta hotel for all 10 families.
Jennifer and Jessica said a friendship grew with the Lago family and they still write each other. The Lagos get to compete another day, but they must wait to film their next appearance until this summer because the Turnberg-Lago competition was the last show of the season.
The Turnberg cousins often talk about this memorable experience.
“Even now we’re still all texting each other about it,” Jessica said. “It was really special for all of us being together and we’ll never forget the craziness of it all.”
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]