Tacoma native Chelsea Chinery might not have been able to conquer the "Uphill Battle" - using a spoon to move marbles up a slanted table - but she and her partner walked away from their appearance on NBCs hot new game show "Minute to Win It" with $250,000.
I thought wed be able to do it, Chinery said of completing the task, which would have earned the pair the shows top prize of $1 million.
Recruiters with the show put Chinery, 20, of Bellevue, through tryouts at her University of California Santa Barbara sorority house in May. She answered dozens of questions in countless interviews and waited to hear back.
A month later, Chinery found herself on her way to a boot camp in which the shows creators taught show candidates the rules of 80 games and scrutinized their success. She cant talk much about what went on in the studio lot where boot camp was held because many games havent aired yet. She will say that 40 other candidates were there, and they learned simple challenges that involve household products such as staples, toilet paper and drinking glasses.
It was an experience. I didnt know what to expect, but I had the opportunity, said Chinery, who is studying business and hopes for a career in public relations or marketing.
She took a train from Santa Barbara to Burbank, Calif., for the filming. Her parents were in the audience, and her grandmother, Rosemary Chinery, watched the show excitedly from her Puyallup home.
Chinery had seen her assigned partner, Nathan Moon, at the boot camp, but they had never spoken. She recalls thinking his natural skill with games would earn him the shows top prize. They were dubbed Team Awesome on-air.
She was anxious before stepping on the stage.
I was terrified to be on TV, Chinery said. When youre on stage with the lights and the timer and the cameras in your face, its so overwhelming.
Out of the nine rounds they made it through on Minute, Chinery played three games by herself and two with Moon.
Toward the end of the show, she was tasked with making a track out of staples on a table and running a marble through it. The marble had to drop into a cup on the ground within a minute.
Chinery leaped in the air when she earned $75,000 for that success. Next, she and Moon had to assemble 16 puzzle pieces of a cereal box.
The games for her Chinerys episode were do-able, she said.
Her winnings probably will go toward paying off student loans. Or maybe a trip to Brazil.
She didnt take not winning the grand prize too hard. Her family toured Hollywood and had lunch at Universal Studios before she boarded the train home.
After all, her stint as a television star had concluded. She had class to get to.