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Our Brush with Fame (and $25,000) on NBC’s The Marriage Ref

Last night, my husband Jamie and I battled it out over his pumpkins on the premiere of NBC’s The Marriage Ref .

Sadly, we didn’t win. I honestly did not go into it thinking we would but of course, I always hoped because that’s why we did the show. Bills were piling up and my knee surgery keeps getting pushed back. It’s not very often you get a 1 in 3 chance of winning $25,000.

But as the show progressed and the audience and celebrities were very pro-pumpkin, I thought, “We have a real stab at this!”

Oh, how great was our fall.

Some observations:

  • From the offset, Jamie was beloved, I was a fly on the wall and I was perfectly happy about that. I’m usually the one who has the spotlight and it was lovely to see my dear husband shine on a national stage (even if it was regarding my big, orange nemesis). Strangely enough, he talked a lot more than I did during our segment but was edited down for time.
  • Walking across the stage, sitting down and looking at legends Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais and Julianne Moore was almost an out-of-body experience. At one point I asked myself, “Is this really happening,” particularly when Jerry serenaded Jamie with ‘The Pumpkin Man” (to the tune of “The Muffin Man.”)
  • The best line of the night was when Jerry Seinfeld asked Jamie why big pumpkins were so ugly. My hilarious husband responded that it’s not a beauty contest and it’s all about the weight. Some are beautiful orange while others “look a little more British” (and he pointed to Brit Ricky Gervais), to which Ricky responded, “You did not just say that!” The audience went wild and Jamie got one of the biggest laughs of the night.
  • Jamie ended up winning our “argument” but if the celebrities hadn’t been so starstruck by The Great Pumpkin, they would have realized they were siding with me. My whole premise was moderation, not to quit growing. But I guess they thought a vote against The Great Pumpkin would be a vote against mankind.
  • (Backstage with my fellow losers)

  • After the celebrities sided with Jamie, we had a few minutes backstage to work together on Jamie’s closing argument. Our make-up crew was astounded because they’d never seen a couple come together like that before. I harbored no bitterness about the celebrities siding with Jamie–I just wanted the $25,000!
  • The other husbands and I waited just off-stage as Jamie and the two wives gave their closing arguments. The feeling was so electric, the celebrities were so pro-pumpkin that even the man who ended up winning congratulated me prior to when the audience vote was announced.
  • With a build-up like that, when we learned Jamie did not win we weren’t angry, we weren’t sad, we were just in absolute shock.
  • After the announcement, we all came back on stage to meet the celebrities and pose for pictures, something they never stayed around to do. A stage-hand had my camera, missed the group shot and took even worse pictures than I did of the entire team.
  • We drowned our sorrows by hitting Times Square that night. Though we had a good time walking around, we returned to our hotel starving because we didn’t want to pay $15 for a bowl of soup at T. G. I. Fridays. Especially since we’d just lost $25,000. 🙂
  • Even though we didn’t win, are we glad we did it?

    You betcha. I can’t tell you how many friends have contacted me, excited to see us on NBC’s promotional blitz. I’ve worked on news sets for years (I was a broadcast journalism major in college) but this was a completely different experience. The entire process was frenzied, hilarious and fascinating. Getting that kind of access was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Well, at least until my favorite show The Amazing Race comes calling…..


    In case you missed it:

    Battling it Out at Marriage Ref’s Auditions
    Who Was the Rightest of the Right–A behind-the-scenes glimpse at The Marriage Ref
    The Marriage Ref: In Pictures
    The Ambulance, The Woman and The Wardrobe
    The Good Ol’ Boys of Pumpkin Growing

    Also, check-out Jamie’s pumpkin blog at He has named his two pumpkins Jerry and Ricky in honor of The Marriage Ref. 🙂

    Amber Johnson
    Author: Amber Johnson

    Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

    Share This Post

    Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.


    1. You were robbed!

    2. Congrats – and that’s even without the money!

    3. Too bad you guys didn’t win. I didn’t get home in time to see it. I was going to try and have my husband get in NBC, but alas it is the only station we can’t get over the air.

    4. Amber, this is just so awesome. I have a feeling your $25,000 will still make its way to you in some other way!


    5. Thanks. 🙂 We had a great time and it was so fun to watch with our friends last night!

    6. So much fun to watch you both. I honestly thought you had won,especially with Jerry and Ricky on your side!

    7. I can’t believe that jokster husband with all the funny bets didn’t win his argument! His wife really played it like a real hardship putting up with him, but I would love to be his neighbor! And I totally wish you would have won the big prize!! the Celebs were all rooting for you, holding hands and everything… but it was awesome to watch

    8. What a fun experience! It makes me wish my husband or I had some strange obsession so we could do it, too.

    9. The picture of the 3 loser cracks me up be because the guy in the middle didn’t even get the “L” hand sign right! 😉

      Not a show I will watch with any regularity, but it was fun to watch it because I know you guys!

    10. So close! You had the celebrities rooting for you! At least you won a trip, right?

    11. We’re taking the trip to the Dominican Republic in November. Excited!

    12. Jamie was so darn funny my cheeks hurt. Both of you were fabulous, and I think the judges were WAY off the mark.

      Thanks for the behind-the-scenes report!

    13. What a great experience! Money (even when it is desperately needed) never comes close to amazing experiences. Having both would have been nice, but you are still better for it.

    14. Thanks ladies. Having both would have been nice but having the experience is invaluable. It was so fun to share something like that with my husband!

    15. That was so fun! I thought it was so cute how Jamie says “punkin.” The money would have been nice, but at least you have the bragging rights that Jerry and Ricky thought you should win. Maybe if Jamie would have tended his punkin in a sports bra…

    16. Jamie blew it!! Dude don’t you watch survivor, this was tribal council you have to plead your case!! go for the throat. you lost to the chick that didn’t speak English man!

    17. I would pay money to see you and Jaime on The Amazing Race!! Who do I have to call/write/tweet?

      I’m impressed that you managed to tweet with me during the show when you had all of those people over watching it!

    18. It was fun tweeting with everyone during the show!

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