Interviews TV

Claudia Jordan Is Her Own Competition in NBC’s Deal or No Deal Island

The iconic NBC game of Deal or No Deal is back and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. A new spin on the game takes the beloves series to new heights as host Joe Manganiello prepares viewers (and contestants) for a journey to unexpected. In this new format of Deal of No Deal Island, 13 players are transported to the elusive Banker’s private island where the Banker makes the rules where secrets and twists hide behind every palm tree.

To celebrate this exciting new series, The Koalition spoke with contestant Claudia Jordan about joining the competition series, her strategy behind the game, balancing her strength and intelligence, competitors she had to lookout for, digital isolation and more.

From the pilot to the finale, Claudia had a front row seat to every episode of the original Deal or No Deal. As the model of case #1, and she took her placement seriously and watched as contestants made countless bad deals. Even though she left the many years ago to star on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and The Celebrity Apprentice, hosts her own talk show, Tea-G-I-F, five days a week; despite all of her TV appearances, she has always wanted to return to play the game.

“I definitely felt I had an advantage going in as far as the knowledge of the game and I actually love Deal or No Deal. When I was a model on the show, standing there on my 19-hour days I was like, ‘Damn, I got this good job, but I wish I was a contestant. I would love to see how I would do.’ Sometimes we think things are easy from the outside looking in or we think we could do a better job and I got the chance to finally go see and put that theory to a test. It was such a good experience; it really was wonderful.”

DEAL OR NO DEAL ISLAND — “Are You a Gambler?” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Nicholas Grasso, Jordan Fowler, Stephanie Mitchell, Miranda Harrison, Brantzen Wong — (Photo by: Monty Brinton/NBC)

Just like the title states Deal or No Deal Island isn’t filmed in the luxury and comfortability of the studio but on an island where the iconic briefcases are hidden around the island and worth over $200 million in prize money split between them.

The chosen competitor must then play a high-stakes game of “Deal or No Deal.” If the player makes a bad deal and accepts an offer that is a lesser value than what is in their chosen case, they are immediately eliminated. If the player makes a good deal and accepts an offer that is a higher value than what is in their case, the power is in their hands, and they get to select who to eliminate.

The chosen competitor must then play a high-stakes game of “Deal or No Deal.” If the player makes a bad deal and accepts an offer that is a lesser value than what is in their chosen case, they are immediately eliminated. If the player makes a good deal and accepts an offer that is a higher value than what is in their case, the power is in their hands, and they get to select who to eliminate.

However, the devious Banker is always watching and raising the stakes with tests of strategy and greed. Manganiello will serve as the gaming liaison – an intermediary between the Banker and contestants – overseeing gameplay and helping to navigate them through tough, life-changing decisions.

DEAL OR NO DEAL ISLAND — “Are You a Gambler?” Episode 101 — Pictured: Claudia Jordan — (Photo by: Monty Brinton/NBC)

“We didn’t know what to expect before we get out there. We knew there’d be challenges but we didn’t know exactly what they be. I decided to try to work out a little bit more and step on my cardio a little bit. I didn’t need to freshen up on the game because that’s what I feel I’m an expert in. I was just open to whatever they were going to throw at us. I knew I’d be an asset for the game because I know when not to go an extra step and when to kind of call it a day. I’ve seen a lot of people lose out on a lot of money being too greedy. If anything, I would be more on the conservative side. I want to go for it but I’m not going to blow it all when the odds are not in my favor.”

When agreeing to do the show, all the producers’ told Jordan was, “what kind of clothes we need to bring and that there would be some physical challenges [where] we [would] have to be able to swim and there may or may not be some critters around there. We were pretty much walking into like uncharted territory. You may open up a door and you don’t know what’s on the other side.”

In each episode, players compete in daring challenges to secure the briefcases that will be used in that night’s game of “Deal or No Deal.” The player who snags the highest-value case gains immunity and gets to choose a fellow player to enter “The Temple.”

While Jordan couldn’t spill all the secrets about the challenges, she was rather shocked at how intense the first challenge was and how the environment (and bugs) really impacted her. [I was not prepared for the] snakes in the bathroom and scorpions we had to kill. [It] was the biggest I ever seen in my life in this jungle. It was a foot tall. There was this big a bug just hanging out.”

DEAL OR NO DEAL ISLAND — “Are You a Gambler?” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Kamari Love, Joe Manganiello, Ben Crofchick — (Photo by: Monty Brinton/NBC)

“There’s no preparing for a one-foot bug, there’s nothing I’ve ever seen that before in my life and we had to just deal with it. There are people walking around our camp catching snakes to make sure they don’t get into our tents. There’s no way to prepare for that. It definitely made me appreciate what I had back home and being in a bug-free house. It adds to the stress. Plus, we had to turn our cell phone and our computer in, so we’re not even communicating with our people back home. You can’t even cry to your mama or your boyfriend or your girlfriend, you just had to just deal with it and just lean on each other during this experience. [Not having these devices] made it harder. I just wanted to talk to a friendly voice, just someone I didn’t have to worry if they were scheming on me or not. I was missing that a lot.”

“We have to go find some cases within a minute I am waste deep in some mud and there were centipedes in that mud and there were briefcases with a whole lot of money in that mud. We had to figure it out and it was so hard. It’s day one and I want to go home already. My hair was all pretty then five minutes later, I’m covered in mud but after doing this show, there’s a lot of things I think I could do more of [in my life]. I didn’t think I could do what I did on this show, and I did it.”

Unlike the original show, the contestants must learn how to work together to earn more money. The winnings from each game of “Deal or No Deal” will be added to a group pot that will grow to an exponential value throughout the season. At the end of the season, the last player standing will face the Banker to potentially win the biggest prize in the show’s history.

“On the regular Deal or No Deal, you’re playing with yourself. You have your friends there, your family to support you, but this is a little bit different, there’s a twist. You got to build the pot up with your team and then the last man or woman standing is the one that gets to play for the entire bag. [For me], the strongest competition would be myself because I am physically fit, I know the game, I look good in the bathing suit, and I am down to help other people, but I also want to get the money for myself.”

DEAL OR NO DEAL ISLAND — “Are You a Gambler?” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Rob Mariano, Nicholas Grasso, Alyssa Klinzing, Stephanie Mitchell, Brantzen Wong, Jamil Sipes, Miranda Harrison, Amy McCoy, Jordan Fowler, Aron Barbell, Kim Mattina, Dawson Addis, Claudia Jordan — (Photo by: Monty Brinton/NBC)

Jordan has to rely on the fine balance of think about herself and helping others in her team in order to secure both her team winnings and her outlasting everyone in the competition. Finding this balance was not an easy task, which only became harder when her competition became her friends. “It’s hard because you want to build a pot up, but you also don’t want to get yourself out the game and you want to stick around. You have to make some really difficult decisions sometimes and then as the longer you’re there, the more you get to really like some of these people. Then you’re like, ‘Well I don’t want to throw someone else under the bus, but I don’t want to lose myself.’

“But you’ll see from episode one my expertise in the game and you’ll see my skills or lack of when it comes to picking the briefcases and if I’m not playing the game I’m going to be a coach if I’m in the game. I know what I’m doing, so if someone comes to me for answers, I got [them] covered.”

Deal or No Deal Island premieres February 26th at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC and is streaming February 27th on Peacock. To learn more about the show and Jordan, check out our full interview in the video above.

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