Ann Raineri slammed the bright red button on the game show “Press Your Luck” many times during a recent episode, as she pressed her luck and strategy skills to win more than $100,000, with a percentage deducted for taxes.
“The whole thing, if I could explain it, was surreal,” Raineri said. “You can plan all you want or watch as many reruns as you want and it does not prepare you for that day.”
Raineri was featured in the fifth episode of season three, “Does he know I’m from Boston?” which aired June 23 on ABC and is also available to watch on Hulu. The show’s newest season began May 26 and is still ongoing.
She first became interested when a casting director posted the audition in a local Facebook group and she applied, not thinking much of it. For 21 years Raineri worked in marketing as a program manager and later vice president at the same company, but is currently a stay-at-home mother. Throughout the screening, auditioning and casting process she said she made sure those involved knew her priority was her family and youngest son as he graduated high school.
“Press Your Luck” originally ran on CBS from 1983-1986. Raineri remembered from watching the show with her grandmother when she was younger.
“‘No Whammy’ is something I’ve known since I was a kid,” she said, recalling how contestants try and hope to avoid spots with the “whammy,” where cartoon characters screech as the money accumulated tragically changes to zero.
She said that before seeing the casting call she didn’t know the show was rebooted by ABC in 2019 and is now hosted by Elizabeth Banks.
After a months-long process where Raineri went through multiple interviews, phone calls and virtual screen tests, she and her supporters — her husband, youngest son and best friend — were put in a hotel near the television studio and continued preparing and strategizing.
“It was fun being able to put competitor skills to the test,” Raineri, who’s always loved games, trivia and being competitive, said. But she said what kept her going during the stressful yet fun time was her family.
“My ‘why’ is my family,” Raineri said. “They’re why I gotta pull through.”
Because of the numerous screen tests with candidates and COVID-19 precautions, Raineri said she didn’t know until the night before that she was going to be on the show.
After Raineri made it to the bonus round, personalized potential prizes were added to the electronic game board, including a paid-for prom for Raineri’s youngest son, thousands of dollars worth of Raineri’s favorite protein shakes and a “family roots” trip to Italy and the Philippines.
She said she was surprised to see some of those prizes on the board, especially since they were just ideas casually discussed earlier on in the interview process, and that all her reactions were genuine excitement, shock and nerves.
“For me it’s like I wanna do it again but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Raineri said.
She said that right now she is enjoying spending time with family, an incoming grandchild and what she describes as a humbling amount of money that she won’t take for granted.