The pressure was rising, the chances of winning six figures were getting more remote, and Jade Thomas, a 29-year-old former U.S. marine, was starting to feel worried under the bright lights of the "Deal or No Deal" stage. Then host and executive producer Howie Mandel invited Thomas' mother to join her.
"When Howie brought my mom on stage, I felt a lot of stress and anxiety float away," Thomas tells CNBC Make It. "I got very emotional because my mom and I are so close and I think he saw the relationship we have is very genuine."
The company helped: "Having that comfort so close to me," she says, "just made me feel reassured, like, 'OK, you can do this. You've got this.'"
Thomas and her mom, Cheryl Myles, have always shared a special bond, even in a family of seven children. That's why whatever amount of money she won, Thomas says, she knew would split: "Half for my mom, half for me."
"I've always felt like we've had that close relationship," Thomas says. "At the end of the day … I know if my mom ever needs anything, she can depend on me."