Luis Green was not that lucky.
After rejecting a $330,000 offer in favor of taking a chance on another briefcase, the 28-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida, went home having won a pre-tax total of only $5.
And he knows exactly how he's going to use it.
"I'm not going to spend it," he tells CNBC Make It. "I'm actually going to put it on a frame and keep it." And "who knows," he says, maybe down the road, one of his children could use it as motivation if they ever get the chance to try to redeem him on the show.
"Like, 'See, this is what my dad won. I'm not trying to leave with this.'"
At the very beginning of the game, Green eliminated the $1 million briefcase, along with a handful of other valuable ones, and says his strategy went out the window.
"When the $1 million came off the board, it's like my game plan was, 'I don't know what to do anymore. This isn't what I planned for.' You've got to remember," he says, as a contestant, you're "going into it thinking, 'What would I do with a $1 million?' You're always thinking best case scenario."
But after more and more cases were eliminated, there were only three scenarios left: take a $330,000 deal from the banker, counter with a higher amount that could be rejected or take a chance on the last briefcase.
"In that moment," Green says, "I thought about countering. There was a split second where I was like, 'I'm going to counter. I'm going to counter.'"
After the crowd erupted in protest and "everybody started talking" at the same time, though, Green opted for the last briefcase. The total value was $5.
"Everything you think you were going to feel is turned upside down because the glory of winning a million dollars is gone, pretty much the worst case scenario happened and you're left with nothing," Green says.
He remembers asking himself, "Did I really just make a decision where I'm leaving with $5? Is this a dream? Am I going to wake up?"
Although the outcome was initially hard to accept, Green says the overall experience was worth it. And while there are times when, he says, "I feel like I should have taken the deal, I try not to live in that space."
Instead, he focuses on the positive: "You've got to tell yourself that it's going to be OK and, as shattering as it feels, you go back to the mentality [of] how happy you were and … how fun the entire process was. "
Green has perspective, which helps. As a child, he lived in almost a dozen different foster homes before he and his younger brother were adopted by their third-grade teacher.
"Changing houses every other month, trying to find a new family that loves you and wants to take you in — you try to put on your best face. You try to look like, 'I'm the perfect candidate for you to adopt,'" he says.
"It's like your life is an entire interview and … the most difficult thing in the world is interviewing for somebody to love and take care of you. That happening every other month definitely changes the mentality of what really matters, what's really important in life," he says.
For him, what's really important is family.
"Obviously $333,000 is a serious number," he says, but "at the end of the day, richness doesn't come from the amount of money you take home." It comes from spending time with the people you love.
He and his family went onto the show with "a mentality that even if we left with a penny … it's not going to change how we feel about being happy or about being alive."
After all, he says, "we have each other."
And while "life has ups and downs," Green adds, "I consider 'Deal or No Deal' an 'up.' The outcome wasn't the way I dreamt or envisioned, but if I had to do it all over again and they said, 'You're only going to win $5,' I would."
His advice to future contestants of the show: "Be yourself. Don't be afraid to be goofy" and "don't care what everybody's going to think."
Along with having fun, try not to be overwhelmed by the moment.
That's advice endorsed by Jade Thomas, a 29-year-old former U.S. marine, who says keeping a level head helped her win $233,000, as well as host and executive producer Howie Mandel, who says he'd be one of the show's "worst contestants ever" because he doesn't like to gamble with money.
"In my mind," Mandel tells CNBC Make It, "if I showed up for 10 minutes and somebody said, 'The banker is now offering you $15,000.' Deal. You're handing me $15,000! There's a chance I could tank on the next couple of openings, there's a chance I'll never see the million dollars."
And though Green says he's "always been a risky person" and likes "the rush that comes with risk taking," he now agrees that it's key not to lose your head, whether you're competing on a game show or otherwise winning money.
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!
Video by Helen Zhao