EXCLUSIVE: Alyssa Klinzing on Her Deal or No Deal Island Elimination, And Why She Almost Didn’t Join the Show

Photo by: Patrick Ecclesine/NBC via Getty Images

Deal or No Deal Island is a thrilling blend of original Deal or No Deal and Survivor. The Banker selected 13 guests to visit, and compete, on his tropical island. The final player left will face off with the Banker. At stake? A cash windfall of up to $200 million.

Last time, Stephanie Mitchell and Amy McCoy decided to open a safe and snag a $5 million case. But that put them in the bottom two. Stephanie faced off against the Banker in the seventh episode. But there were fireworks inside The Temple when she and Alyssa Klinzing’s feud escalated. In the end, Stephanie made a good deal and sent Alyssa home.

Alyssa joined Reality Tea writer Kim Stempel to discuss her elimination, why she almost didn’t join the show, and what happened with the plan to oust Kim Mattina.

Why did Alyssa hesitate to join the show?

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Kim Stempel: Why did you decide to join Deal or No Deal Island?

Alyssa Klinzing: So the crazy thing about me being a contestant on Deal or No Deal Island was I originally reached out to be a briefcase model. Before it was called Deal or No Deal Island, I think it was called Money Island and I’d seen a casting director post about it. And I knew several of the briefcase models on the last revamped season, so I’m thinking it’s going to be on a sound stage in LA [Los Angeles.] I live in LA. If I did it for a season just to say I did it, that would be so cool.

So I asked, ‘Can I be a briefcase model?’ And she [said], ‘Yeah. I can definitely look into that for you. But would you actually rather be a contestant? And if so, would you have a partner?’

I was like, ‘Sure. Yeah.’ At the time it was supposed to be partners. So my girlfriend at the time, now fiancée, and I applied together. We interviewed together and we went through the majority of the casting process together until it switched to singles about two months before filming.

And they asked me to continue and I was really reluctant at first, but after getting on the phone with the casting director, and hearing about everything, like I’m not going to have to fight and fend for my own food, I’m not going to have to like make shelter for myself. Those kinds of things [had me worried.]

Once they were like, ‘Oh, you’re not going to have to do that.’ My fiancée Vega was like, ‘Put the phone on mute.’ And she was like ‘You have to do this. I’ll be so mad if you don’t do this.’

And so she really gave me the push to go even though I was more comfortable doing it in pairs than I was alone, especially because there was no Season 1 to look at. This was Season 1.

Kim Stempel: Right.

Alyssa Klinzing: I have no idea what this is going to be. I was flying across the country to go do this and I’m like I have no idea what I’m getting myself into, and I really didn’t. (laughs)

Kim Stempel: And congratulations on your engagement!

Alyssa Klinzing: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Alyssa wants to make safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals

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Kim Stempel: I know that you had hoped to “open an inclusive and safe space in Missouri.” Is that something that you are still looking into? I think that is such a wonderful and admirable goal.

Alyssa Klinzing: I mean, I would love to be able to do that. I have a very exciting something in the works that you’ll have to stay tuned on my Instagram to find out. I’m partnering with an organization that helps create safe spaces, especially for rural areas across the Midwest and across the United States. But largely those rural areas, especially you know Missouri, Kansas. You know the middle belt of the country is really lacking in safe spaces for queer individuals.

We’re down to less than…I believe it’s less than 12 lesbian bars left in the country. And we’re at a time and a place politically that I feel like it’s important now more so than ever before to take up space as a queer individual. And to be represented, to speak out against anti-LGBTQ legislation, and to really fight for our right to equality, our right to live and our right to be here and to be who we are. To be the people that we were born as.

So, I would love to open inclusive spaces, you know, not only in Missouri, across the nation, across the world, wherever I end up somewhere in life. I’m always willing to be an advocate for having safe inclusive spaces because they’re needed. They save lives.

Did Alyssa have a strategy?

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Kim Stempel: What was your strategy going into the show?

Alyssa Klinzing: Oh, my gosh! I had like no strategy. We had no idea…and then we’re in Panama… and no clue. I remember when we were traveling there we were told to not talk to anybody and we were super top-secret.

And I was like, I know this is legit because a friend of mine is the casting director and I’ve signed all the paperwork and I’ve met the producers. I know this is legit, but this is feeling really sketchy. And then we get there, and we had all been traveling for about 24 hours. Everyone was experiencing flight delays from the weather and we were all exhausted.

Most of us had been up for 24 hours straight by the time we got there, and we went immediately into our meeting with the rules of the game. And I’m sitting there trying to digest all this information and trying to keep my eyes open, as they are just closing against my will, and I really had no idea how the game worked. Like at all.

The first three days in the game I still had no idea what was going on. You see me in episode three try to hack the game. I’m like, ‘Okay. I think we can do a back-door, Big Brother-style situation with Kim and get her out.’ And truly, you can’t hack the game because it is half luck, and half chance, really is what it comes down to.

So, I did my best. I tried. And the whole plan didn’t really get explained well… in the edit of what made air, but that was because it actually took us two days to film that. It did not all happen in one day. We had a whole night in between when the first chunk of people [went] through on that excursion and when the last chunk of people [went] through.

And it was a plan I’d come up with that morning. I told Aron [Barbell] and Stephanie. We were like, ‘Okay. Yeah. This is good.’ Then Stephanie and I went and told Claudia [Jordan] and Aron went and told Rob [Mariano.]

We were kind of dispersing and we were against the clock. This was a time when we were about to be put on ice, which is when you can’t talk. And we were just trying to get that plan across as quickly and efficiently as we could.

Rob was actually the last person to find out about that plan. I feel like the edit made it look like it was kind of all of his concoction. But he was the last person to know, and had he been first, he actually brought up a great point of what if two people get the “steals.”

And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! You’re so right! I didn’t think about that.’ And I tried to pull it back, and it was actually Stephanie who was like, ‘No. Don’t let him get in your head like that. It’s a good plan. Your plan’s good. Stick with the plan.’

And had I known, I mean obviously hindsight is 20/20, you get to see all the interviews and everything that you aren’t privy to when you’re there. But had I known that she really was not comfortable going with the plan, it wouldn’t have happened.

Plain and simple as that. I would have been like, ‘Okay. It’s either all or nothing. We’re either all in this or we’re not.’ But she clearly had her own game to play and her own agenda, which I completely understand and I don’t fault her for at all.

It is just, it was a really tough situation to be up there. Aron and I still hadn’t thrown. It really did affect Aron [on the spot.] I feel like it affected really the outcome of that excursion, the outcome of that Deal or No Deal game that night, with Claudia going home. It broke my heart to see Claudia go. But at the end of the day, it really was…it really was just a game. I have no ill will towards anyone. Kim, Stephanie, any of them.

What ignited the feud between Alyssa and Stephanie?

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Kim Stempel: Was it just that issue with Stephanie changing her mind that kicked off the feud between you? Or were there other things that happened?

Alyssa Klinzing: Honestly, like after Claudia went home, and it all happened, [if] Claudia had made a good deal, she was going to turn and take out Stephanie because of the situation that had happened during the excursion. We all thought we were on the same page, we all thought we had communicated well enough. Clearly, it was not what we thought.

Obviously, yes. For me, it put Stephanie as my number one target. It really wasn’t ever going to waver from Stephanie. At one point I did consider switching and turning on Rob, because how iconic of a move would that be to like take out Boston Rob if given the opportunity?

But when it really came down to it, for my game, Stephanie would have been my target the entire time. However, I did have a conversation with her, and I was like, ‘You know, water under the bridge. Clearly, we were on two different pages. Let’s just play the game now, and let things happen the way that they’re going to happen.’

There was another portion of that episode that did not air where we came back from that excursion and I actually sat everyone in camp down, and I owned up to all of it. I said my peace. I was like, ‘This was my plan. Here’s the people I told. Here’s the people who knew. Here are the people who were onboard.’

I apologized to Kim’s face, profusely. And said, ‘I’m so sorry. That was obviously something that I would not like done to me.’ But really, I did everything I could in that moment to take responsibility, to take accountability, and apologize and just wrap it up.

Why Alyssa targeted Kim

Photo by: Monty Brinton/NBC

Alyssa Klinzing: Kim told me, ‘You’re not my target. You’re not my target.’ And I truly believed her. Rob was still her target. Kim really wasn’t my target outside of the fact it was a pretty hostile environment to be in. And we were sharing a tent.

She was really comfortable making commentary to me that I was not necessarily comfortable with but she was the kind of person that was really hard to get a word in to interject in those conversations and I tried multiple times when she was name-calling. I tried to interject and it just wasn’t possible. And so, it really…for my game, Kim benefitted my game by being there.

We really had no beef, we really had no issues, but overall in the camp, her behavior both on and off camera…I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. If we could get her out, then maybe we can all have a clean slate, and could just be less drama.’

Little did I know that actually, the opposite was going to happen. But I tried. And Kim and I have had our conversations, even after the game, after we were both out. It’s water under the bridge, we cleared the air. It’s just a game. Truly, that’s how I felt.

How did Alyssa feel about Aron’s reaction to her elimination?

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Kim Stempel: How did you feel about Aron’s emotional reaction after your elimination?

Alyssa Klinzing: I stopped watching after the excursion in last night’s episode. I was there for Temple, I experienced it myself. I didn’t really feel the need to put myself back in that situation and watch it. Aron and I are still great friends. We talk every single day.

Kim Stempel: That’s great!

Alyssa Klinzing: And I literally asked him to be in my wedding. I already knew after the show had wrapped and he had told me everything that happened, I knew that he left [The Temple.] And honestly, my heart breaks for him, because I knew in the moment when everything was happening…I’m not sure what aired or what didn’t because I didn’t watch Temple. But I was you know telling him, ‘It’s okay. I’m okay. Just breathe. It’s going to be okay.’ I told him so many times, ‘It’s just a game.’

And like life, there’s people in here that I like, that I dislike, that I will be friends with on the outside and that I won’t. And the feeling is mutual. There’s people here that don’t like me, and will never talk to me on the other side. That’s okay. That’s life.

And I feel like we had an incredibly diverse cast and I really applaud NBC for the diversity that we had in this cast, especially for Season 1. Not only just in race, gender, and age but like backgrounds and everything. And I was honestly so grateful to be a part of it.

My heart hurts that Aron was so hurt in that moment. But truth be told I never, ever would have turned on Aron. I would have taken it all the way to the end. I wouldn’t turn on Aron until I absolutely needed to, if we were in the final two.

This interview was edited for conciseness and clarity.

Deal or No Deal Island continues on Monday, April 15 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.