Gay Cowboy Makes A Deal

Gay Cowboy
CALGARY, CANADAJamie Cumberland can’t divulge the full extent of what happened during his taping of Deal Or No Deal last week, but the self-professed “gay cowboy” does know what he’ll do with the winnings (if he did, in fact, win money): buy a horse and name her “Buttercup.”
Cumberland, a retail account representative in Calgary, had heard people around his office talk about the popular game show coming to Canada, and thought it couldn’t hurt to apply.
“And then they actually called me, and I almost fell out of my chair,” he says, back in Calgary. “And they did three phone interviews with me and they said, if you hear back, then we’ll bring you in, otherwise no. So I got the call, and I went down and auditioned for them.”
Cumberland admits it’s probably because of his membership in the Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association that he was selected over 115,000 other contestants, but that sits OK with him. And yes, while on set, host Howie Mandel did make some token, corny Brokeback Mountain jokes, but that sits OK with him, too.
“The fact that I’m a gay cowboy in a rodeo is kind of unique,” he says. “If I hadn’t been the character that I am, I don’t think I would have made it on. The fact that I am gay and a cowboy, and I’m outgoing and spontaneous, I think those were the reasons I got picked.”
Cumberland says he prepared for the game show by playing a Flash version of it online, but this is a game with no strategy behind it, just pure, guessing luck. How do you prepare for luck?
“It’s complete luck,” he reiterates. “Absolute, complete luck. You just pick numbers, and depending on what values are left, the bank offers go up or down. There’s no strategy. They mix up the cases all the time, so there’s no way to plan for it. I played the online game forever, and for Christmas, I got a whole bunch of Deal Or No Deal stuff — the card game, computer game, everything — but it doesn’t prepare you for standing on the stage and being there.
“As I stood there, I kept thinking, ‘It’s happening, I can’t believe I’m doing this, this is real money.’ It’s a complete gamble every time. It gets scary after a while when you realize the money you’re turning down.”
During the taping, Cumberland went out of his way to represent his hometown. He wore his full cowboy regalia, complete with chaps and cowboy hat, he white-hatted Howie Mandel in a mini-ceremony at the start of taping, and he had signs made up for each side of the audience, some that said “Yaa” and others that said “Hoo.” He also brought down friends Pierre, Greg and Julia for support, with whom he would consult after every offer from the banker.
Cumberland says he had his own method of deciding what briefcase numbers to call out.
“What I did was, it was a combination of my old rodeo numbers, numbers I had used before, and then birthdays and anniversaries whatever else came to mind,” he says.
And while he can’t say which briefcase number he initially clung onto, he reveals why he chose that number: “A friend of mine had a heart attack at a rodeo — he’s fine now — but unfortunately it was at the beginning of the rodeo, and he never got to use the number. So that’s the one I picked.”
Despite being as prepared as he could be, Cumberland says it was completely surreal being on the show. He says host Mandel was extremely nice and supportive, and that “there’s nothing like Howie Mandel saying your name, then saying really slowly, deliberately, ‘Deal, Or No Deal?’ “
The five Canadian episodes of Deal Or No Deal begin airing this Sunday until March 1. Cumberland was the sixth of seven contestants to compete, although Global would not reveal when his episode might air.
While Cumberland doesn’t say that he came away with money, he does let slip that he is now looking for a house in Calgary, something he couldn’t previously afford.
“I really wanted to get enough for a down payment on a house or condo ‘cos I missed the boom,” he says. “That was my goal all along — a horse and a home.”

Movie Monster

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