Tova Ferstenberg '12 gets the deal of a lifetime

She’ll be a contestant on an upcoming episode of 'Deal or No Deal'

Tova Ferstenberg ’12

Tova Ferstenberg '12 knew she needed to stand out if she wanted to make it on to the hit television game show “Deal or No Deal,” so she showed up at a recent casting call in New Jersey wearing her high school prom dress. “I knew you had to be eccentric to be a contestant, so I was planning to say that I was late for a wedding,” Ferstenberg told BrandeisNOW.

Ultimately, it wasn't the prom dress, but an oil change, that got her in front of producers. “The casting call was at a car dealership, and an assistant producer came out and said he was personally going to interview the first 20 people who got oil changes,” Ferstenberg explained. “So my mother, who was with me, threw down her stuff and sprinted to our car. Out of the thousands of people who were there, she managed to elbow her way through the crowd and be the first one to get an oil change.”

Producers were so impressed by Ferstenberg- and her personality- that they invited her back for a second round of auditions the next day in New York City. Her mother came in handy then, too. “A producer said to me ‘Wait, you go to Brandeis? Does that mean you’re a huge nerd?’ So I told him I get my work done, but I’m also the person who goes to games with face paint on, all excited and cheering,” Ferstenberg said. “Then my mother chimed in and says, ‘Of course she’s a nerd!’ I was totally humiliated but the producers loved it."

Ferstenberg got the chance to talk more about her Brandeis experience when she appeared as a contestant on “Deal or No Deal” earlier this month. When the show’s host, Howie Mandel, asked her where she was from, she said she was a “freshmore” at Brandeis. “He asked me, ‘What’s that?’ And I told him how technically I’m housed with sophomores, but as a midyear student who started attending Brandeis last January, I’m still a first-year credit wise.”

Even so, Ferstenberg, a Sociology major who is taking 20-credits worth of courses each semester, plans to graduate in 2012. It’s that same drive that helped her make it to the “Deal or No Deal” stage, minus her prom dress. In the end, producers told her they wanted her to be dressed more casually.

On the show, contestants choose, one-by-one, from a series of sealed briefcases filled with varying amounts of cash. When a briefcase is opened, the dollar amount inside is no longer available (so the lower the figure, the better for the player). At the end of each turn, the contestant must decide whether to take an offer from the “banker” or continue picking briefcases in hope of getting a better deal.

While Ferstenberg can’t disclose how much money she won on the show because the episode won’t air until late December or early January, she is planning to use part of it to buy a car, and eventually pay off some of her student loans.

If there’s anything left over, she may also want to get her mom a very nice thank-you gift.

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