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Cape firefighter brings home the gold — a shiny Ford Mustang

By Staff | Mar 6, 2010

It appears Cape Coral resident Ryan Corlew is luckier than he thought.
During a recent trip to Las Vegas, he and a couple of friends scored tickets to a taping of the television game show “Let’s Make a Deal!” Never known for being the luckiest in the bunch, Corlew prepared for the show as best as he could: with some research and a great costume.
“If there’s a raffle or something going on around the station, they know I’m not going to win,” Corlew, an engineer with the Cape fire department, said.
Corlew watched the show to get a feel for how it worked, getting an idea of how the show doled out prizes and such. He also learned that if the tape was aired — some tapings do not make to television — it would run about the same time as St. Patrick’s Day, so Corlew planned for that.
“I actually dressed up as a leprechaun,” he said. “I was trying to work my angle there.”
Corlew’s wife, Kelley, made a sign for him to take to the show that read, “Make this my lucky day.” The couple have two boys, 13-year-old Cody and 9-year-old Colton. Cody attends Diplomat Middle School, and Colton attends Pelican Elementary School, where Kelley works as a reading specialist.
Corlew, never expecting to win anything, headed out to Nevada in January with the others. The group was made up of other members of the Cape fire department, including Ret. Lt. Grady Yeager, Battalion Chief Rick Wylie and Lt. Brad Windey, along with Roger Windey, Ron Pentiuk and a few others.
When the group returned a few days later, they all had a secret to keep. Corlew had won the big prize on “Let’s Make a Deal!” — a new, 2010 Ford Mustang. The show’s rules forbid winners from telling the public until the show airs — about two months later.
“So we’ve been building the suspense up over the last couple of months,” he said Thursday. “They know were involved in a deal at some point, but they don’t know the whole story.”
“Keeping it a secret has been the hardest part,” Corlew added.
On Friday afternoon, the group of men and their families and friends met at the Stevie Tomato’s Sports Page on Pine Island Road to watch how the show unfolded. They ate and drank, then laughed and cheered as Corlew was pulled to participate as a contestant.
“The whole experience couldn’t be better,” he said Friday.
According to Corlew, there were 340 people in the audience and the taping took place at the Tropicana. Prior to the start of the show, the attendees were put through a short interview process then took their seats. The host, Wayne Brady, opened the show and looked at Corlew.
“He, like, walks right over to me and picks me first,” he said.
Two other people were chosen. Brady offered one person the contents of an envelope or what was behind a curtain. The person picked the envelope, which contained money, and Corlew was given what was behind the curtain — a new game room including a pool table, flatscreen TV and Wii game system.
“I didn’t have to make any decision or anything,” Corlew said.
The second person was offered the contents of a box or an envelope. The person chose the box, which contained a Zonk — a colored wig. A Zonk is a gag gift on the show. Corlew then had to pick between the game room and whatever was in the envelope or what was behind a curtain.
“So far I had to make no decision, I’m just standing there getting stuff,” he said, adding that when he did his research the show tended to give away a big prize at the start to get the crowd pumped. “So I said, “I’m gonna go for the curtain.'”
Corlew won a new, 2010 three-seated Kawasaki jet ski. But, he explained, the show is far from over. At the end, the winner holding the most valuable prize is given a chance to trade that prize in for a chance at the big deal. One woman won a new car, but Corlew knew that she would not take a chance losing that.
Sure enough, Corlew said, the woman declined participating in the big deal and he had the next most valuable prize. He knew the top prize is usually between $20,000-$25,000, and it did not take Corlew long to decide to play the game.
“I’m not going to go home with nothing,” he said, adding there are no Zonks in the big deal. “I’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m probably never going to be on the show again.”
So Corlew told Brady, “Wayne, I’m going for it.”
Given three numbered doors to choose from, Corlew picked the first door. Brady opened the other doors first. One door hid a cash vault and the other contained a new dining room set, he said.
“So, at this point, I knew I won the big deal of the day,” Corlew said.
And he did. The door Corlew picked hid the gold-colored Ford Mustang
“That was the best part,” he said of the coloring. “Because I was dressed as a leprechaun.”
Yeager said Friday that Corlew’s personality fit the game show perfectly.
“He lit it up,” he said, adding that Corlew hammed it up for the show. “He goes the little extra mile for things.”
Asked about Corlew’s supposed lack of luck, Yeager pointed to his win.
“I was just amazed,” he said. “In the beginning, it all fell in his lap.”
“It was all luck,” Yeager added.
It will take up to 90 days for the car to be delivered from the day the show is aired. Corlew and his wife are likely going to get rid of the Mustang.
“We’re probably not going to keep it. The cars we have now are fine, so we’re probably going to sell it,” he said. “It’s not as much of a family car.”
Corlew is stationed at Cape Coral Fire Station No. 2. He has been with the fire department for 16 years, but has worked for the city for 20 years. He first worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Cape Coral Yacht Club when he was 16 years old. He also worked at Sun Splash Family Waterpark.
Corlew attended Edison State College, received his EMT certificate and later joined the Cape fire department. He also holds down a side job as a salesman at his father’s store, FOS Furniture.