Money

A 'Deal or No Deal' contestant who won $108,000 says she'll spend most of it on ice cream

VIDEO2:2602:26
This entrepreneur won $108,000 on 'Deal or No Deal' and plans to spend most...

When people win money on a game show like "Deal or No Deal," they often dream of spending it on a new home or dream vacation. Ally Teixeira plans to use her winnings on ice cream.

More specifically, she'll use it to help fund Karma Ice Kreme, a dairy-free frozen dessert start-up she founded about two years ago with her friend and business partner, Jeanette Murillo.

"I've been vegan for seven or eight years now," Teixeira tells CNBC Make It, "so I don't eat any dairy." But "finding ice cream has always been important to me." That's why "a majority of the money is going to our business," she says, "to get us going and get us started."

'My future is depending on this'

Funding Karma was always a goal for Teixeira, even before she knew she'd win six figures. But the possibility of winning less didn't stop her from taking some big risks during the game.

"I went into it thinking I have nothing to lose," she says. "I was going for the experience, and if I won the funding, that would be amazing, but I really wanted to keep playing."

Like many contestants, she didn't have a solid strategy going in: "I picked some cases that were on the back of a fortune cookie," she says. "There were six numbers and I picked those six cases. But that didn't work out too well for me."

And after knocking off several cases with high amounts, Teixeira — like 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 — decided to play the second half more conservatively.

CNBC: "Deal or No Deal" host and executive Howie Mandel tries Karma Ice Kreme
CNBC

"At that point I was like, 'Oh wait, I want to do better.' Then I started really focusing more on the game instead of just taking it all in and loving it," she says. That tactic seemed to help: "My luck came back and … it's the best feeling to open a case and have it be a low number.

"You watch it on TV and you're like, 'Oh, that's great,' but when you actually pick that case and you're putting so much faith in that case, you're like, 'OK, my future is depending on this.'"

The banker offered Teixeira a deal for $108,000, and "when I got the offer, I was kind of 50-50," she says. "Half of me could have kept going and half of me would have been totally happy.

"I remember looking down and seeing the audience, so enthusiastic and happy, cheering, 'Take the deal!'" And "I was like, 'OK, this is a sign.'"

Teixeira took the offer, and it came with a surprise: A mentorship opportunity with Ben Van Leeuwen, founder of Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, which offers classic and vegan ice cream in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as in grocery stores across the country,

The total value of her case, plus the mentorship: $123,000.

'No regrets, no disappointments'

Teixeira's not bummed about not winning $1 million: "I mean, I know there's the opportunity to have won more money, but the whole thing was just the best experience," she says. "The fact that I went away with the amount that I did, plus the mentorship, that's just phenomenal.

"I'm so grateful. So, no regrets, no disappointments."

Plus, she's excited that the show could boost Karma's brand. "I've walked by stores before and they'll say, 'This is the shop that was featured on 'Shark Tank,' or 'This is the business that this person helped out,' and I'm always so impressed. It's pretty cool that now Karma is going to be affiliated with 'Deal or No Deal,'" she says, "which I would have never imagined in a million years."

And having Van Leeuwen as a mentor "just adds this whole other level of something so much greater than we could have dreamed."

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Before the show, Teixeira planned to open a storefront in Pasadena, California, which is "still kind of our goal." But now, she says, there's interest from all over the country: "People from Boston and Texas and Arizona — like, lots of people in Arizona like vegan ice cream, apparently — so we're figuring out a way to distribute it."

Teixeira wants to give a portion of the money to charity, too. Aside from funding for Karma, she plans donate to Animal Hope and Rescue, an organization based in Los Angeles.

"I'm really excited to write that check."

'I want to help other people'

Her advice to anyone who comes into a huge windfall: Take a breather before making any big decisions — an idea endorsed by Tomorrow Rodriguez, who won $1 million on the show in 2008, and Jade Thomas, who won $233,000 in December.

"Wait for a bit and think about it," Teixeira says. Don't "just go out and blow it on something." If you're fortunate enough to win money, whether on a game show or otherwise, she says, consider putting it toward a meaningful goal.

"It feels good that I was in a position to win that money and I'm grateful for it." Now, "I want to pay it forward and help other people."

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