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story.lead_photo.caption Derek Jech

— Derek Jech, of Gentry but now living and working in New York City, was a $50,000 winner on "The $100,000 Pyramid," an ABC television gameshow, which aired on Sunday, June 26.

Anthony Anderson and Sherri Shepherd competed, along with contestants Derek Jech and Lori Burkhoff (of Great Neck, N.Y.), for prizes on the premiere show. The show is hosted by professional football Hall of Famer and celebrated TV personality, Michael Strahan.

"The two celebrities on my episode were comedian, host and actress, Sherri Shepherd, and star of ABC's "black-ish, Anthony Anderson," Jech explained. "The rules state that you have to play a round with each of the celebrities for a chance at winning money in the Winner's Circle. I got to the Winner's Circle when I was partnered with Sherri. She was calm, competitive and clever. She gave great clues and we instantly had a connection that I knew was going to be hard to beat," Jech said.

"We got a perfect score for the rounds that we played, and then we went to the Winner's Circle and blew through each category. I couldn't have been paired with a better partner," Jech said.

"After winning $50,000 in the Winner's Circle with Sherri, it was my time to play with Anthony Anderson," Jech said. "He didn't have a great first round with Lori, his first contestant, so I was nervous; but when he and I were partners, we did pretty well. I was proud of our performance and he genuinely wanted to win. It just wasn't in the books. He was very gracious, apologized for not doing better and helping this Arkansan win."

Anderson said his parents were born in Arkansas, according to Jech.

Jech said he got on the show after he saw an online posting from the casting director seeking contestants.

"I loved watching Pyramid on the Game Show Network growing up and knew I would make a great contestant. Trivia and math are definitely not my strong suit, but give me a word game or charades and I'll almost always win," Jech said.

It wasn't as easy as Jech expected.

"I felt pretty confident going in," Jech said, "but when I met the other contestants, that confidence was quickly stripped away. The other contestants were pros. They had studied the game inside and out and were there to compete."

According to Jech, the casting team had done a great job at assembling a group of likeable but cutthroat competitors. He said he knew he had his work cut out for him if he was going to win.

"Being on the air is not as easy as it seems - so many cameras, a live studio audience, knowing that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - and I didn't want to mess it up," Jech explained. "It's a lot of pressure. I did some dancing in my seat to calm my nerves, fed off the audience's excitement and just did my best," he said.

Jech said he hoped to win big so that he could take his parents on "an international vacation."

"I was hoping I would go to the Winner's Circle twice and win $150,000. That didn't happen and, after taxes, the money is just enough to pay off my college debt," Jech said, adding that his parents, Don Jech, and Delno and Kim Walden, "understood."

"Now I'm saving for that trip I promised them on national television," Jech said.

Jech attended Gentry Public Schools from kindergarten through his senior year and graduated in 2006. He went on to graduate with honors from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., with a bachelor's degree in advertising. He currently lives in New York City and works at DigitasLBi, a full-service, global marketing agency which transforms businesses for the digital age. He leads business development for the New York Region.

"The best part of this was the outpouring of support and love from my small hometown," Jech said. "The watch parties both in New York City and Gentry were fun to experience, and I'm blessed to have such a wonderful community that is always invested in my successes."

According to Jech, eight million people watched his episode, but the home video of his 20 family members and friends in Arkansas watching and reacting to his win was by far his favorite part of the whole experience.

General News on 07/13/2016

Print Headline: Gentry man wins $50,000 on 'The $100,000 Pyramid' game show


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