EXCLUSIVE: Dawson Addis On His Deal or No Deal Island Elimination, His Strategy, and Who the Real Threat Is on the Island

Photo by: Monty Brinton/NBC via Getty Images

Deal or  No Deal Island has blended the original Deal or No Deal with a healthy dose of Survivor. The Banker invited 13 people to stay on his tropical island paradise. They compete in challenges, hoping to be the final participant. That last contestant will go up against the Banker and possibly win up to $200 million.

Last time, guest Dawson Addis finally had his chance to face off against the Banker. But when The Banker offered Dawson $100,000 as a personal offer, he accepted, even though it meant he would be eliminated from the game.

Dawson joined Reality Tea writer Kim Stempel to discuss his elimination, the Night Owl Alliance, and who the real threat is on the island.  

Dawson shares how he was cast on the show

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Kim Stempel: How did you come to be a part of Deal or No Deal Island?

Dawson Addis: So, I applied to be on, it was a reality show that never I guess took off. It was about a year before COVID. Six months later heard back from the casting guy. [He] said he was interested in interviewing me and we went through I think two or three interviews and then I just didn’t hear a thing.

Okay. Then last spring, he reached out to me on Instagram and I forgot who he was, you know. I was like, ‘Oh yeah. It’s this guy.’ You know, it’s been so long and after COVID everyone’s all like delusional. And yeah. So he messaged me. He set up a phone call and you know told me what it would all entail. He thinks I would be a great fit [and] that he remembered me from the last interview process which was awesome.

That’s kind of how I heard about it. I wasn’t on Instagram for like a year, and at that time I just logged on and I saw a message from him literally like the day before and it was just perfect timing.

Kim Stempel: Oh wow! That’s really cool!

Dawson Addis: Yeah!

Why Dawson decided to take the Banker’s personal offer

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Kim Stempel: I think that your goal to help out your mom and your family was sweet. What was your mom’s reaction to your game on the show?

Dawson Addis: She got all emotional. She called me this morning. She was just like, ‘I literally had the biggest goosebumps in the world. I couldn’t even believe it.’ She was like, ‘I couldn’t sit down. I was pacing.’ Because you know, her and my step-dad moved up north about six years ago. They wanted to retire up there, price of living, cost of living is way cheaper. And they sold everything here and they thought they would have profited more from the sale of their house. They thought they had enough money put away, and then stuff hit the fan.

Then she had to go back to work and went back to school for a little bit. She’s working full-time, and you know they had planned on retiring and it’s just unfortunate because they wanted to enjoy it up north. Now they can’t ever drive down here because it costs too much, she’s got to work. It’s just…yeah. 

Kim Stempel: Well, at least now…

Dawson Addis: Exactly! I got to buy something. You know, like an apartment building, a duplex, or something you know, where they can afford to come back. You know they can get the proceeds from the sale of their house now and just you know live wherever I can buy something.

The best excursion

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Kim Stempel: Some of the excursions looked a bit frightening. Which challenge was your favorite?

Dawson Addis: Oof. So, my favorite challenge was probably…I would say, the last one we just did with the swamp. Prior to that challenge [Joe Manganiello] said we’re testing preciseness. And I’m thinking precise is numbers, mathematical stuff, like something that is all mental, okay? Which is why I targeted Aron [Barbell] in that challenge because I was expecting it to be way more mental versus physical.

Kim Stempel: Yeah.

Dawson Addis: That was both mentally and physically like you were putting a lot of effort into it and it was a big adrenaline rush. A very big adrenaline rush.

The worst excursion

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Kim Stempel: And which was your least favorite?

Dawson Addis: The least favorite was the snakes. I think we could all tell by that one. That is a big fear of mine. You know what Aron said, ‘Anything that is moving and not human’…that is kind of true. Anything that is in the wild and moving that’s not human, that’s where I get freaked out, and especially a snake. I know what’s poisonous and I know what’s not, and I know they weren’t poisonous. But it was…the mouth, the fangs, and how fast they are. I just don’t do it.

Kim Stempel: I was freaked out by the flying fish. I was like ‘What is happening right now?’

Dawson Addis: Yes. Yes. Everyone was like, ‘Why were you so scared to do that?’ I was like, ‘Have you not watched National Geographic?’ You know every time you see fish go crazy in packs like that it’s because a monster predator is coming to get them.

I’m like, ‘Okay. What monster thing is under this water?’ If the water wasn’t as clear as it was I would have probably freaked out. I would have been on edge the whole time. But I could see everything.

I saw the packs of the fish, and when your feet were in the water, you’d feel them come by and hit your leg. A group of them jumped out of the water and landed on the paddleboard. They like went up my shorts. That’s why I was screaming. Because that was like, ‘Oh, I don’t like that!’

Kim Stempel: Plus Amy [McCoy] said they bite.

Dawson Addis: I don’t think they’re going to like get out of the water and bite you or bite your legs they’re moving so fast. Oof. They weren’t that big. They were probably like six, or eight inches long at most.

Kim Stempel: I give you guys a lot of credit. I would have been like, ‘No!’

When did Dawson devise his strategy?

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Kim Stempel: So, what was your strategy going into the game?

Dawson Addis: Honestly, I didn’t have much of a strategy at all going into the game because I, you know, wasn’t sure of how the game worked exactly. You know? And then it was probably after episode two where I fully 100 percent realized how this game works and I realized that 50 percent of it is also luck. You know, it’s luck in the excursions. It’s also luck obviously when someone goes up against The Temple. It’s 50 percent, either it’s the game in your full control or you lost the game. You know, so my strategy after that was to find the people I can trust, find the people that I, you know, can work very well with and I think I found the perfect group of people for that. Yeah.

The Night Owls are born

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Kim Stempel: Whose idea was it to form the Night Owls?

Dawson Addis: Amy will say it was her idea, but it was definitely mine. She came up with the name. It was a night after Temple, and it was like the second or third night now in a row that it was me, Stephanie [Mitchell], Amy, and Nick [Grasso] up late on the pavilion when everyone went to bed.

And you know, we would chit chat, chit chat, chit chat the first night. You know, we were kind of feeling everyone out. I was feeling everyone out, like where do they stand? And obviously, that second night when we formed it, I realized that we all have a common denominator that we want out. So I was like, ‘Okay. I think this…if we can do this, us four, it’s four versus two, or three at this time.’ Because we don’t know where Jordan [Fowler] is standing. And I was like, ‘We can do this.’ So, we put our feet in, we’re like, ‘Let’s low key us four work together.’ That’s how that all formed.

Kim Stempel: So, from the jump, was everyone gunning to get Boston Rob [Mariano] off the island?

Dawson Addis: It was Rob, and it was Aron. And a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, you’re bullying. You’re bullying.’ But what you see on TV, like, Aron is a game player. He is a game player.

Yeah, he comes off as soft and sweet and has anxiety. People feel for him, which we all should. Like, we get it. Anxiety sucks.

But, at the same time, it’s a game and we’re gonna do what we gotta do no matter what. We’re putting the emotions aside. Per what Rob said in the second to last episode. The people who don’t put the emotion in the game typically have a better advantage. You know? So we are cutting out all emotion. ‘Feel bad for you, dude, but it’s a game.’

What did it feel like in The Temple?

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Kim Stempel: What was the energy like in The Temple when you were playing Deal or No Deal?

Dawson Addis: Oh, man. That energy was wild. I actually got emotional last night watching it a little bit because it was an insane amount of energy. Like I’m kicking ass, okay? I rock out literally 99 percent of the left side. I’m doing great. I know the offer is going to be good.

I also knew taking out the higher cases you almost have a better advantage because you want to have a lower number in [your case.] But it was a good game no matter what. But it was also, I can’t lose because I’m seeing Nicky, Amy, and Steph up there like, ‘You need to win. You need to win.’

And then, you know Jordan and I, we were close. She’s like, ‘You got this. You got this.’ And then Rob and Aron are just like, ‘Whatever.’

So it was just like I wanted to fricking win so bad to pull this together and just kind of have a good, big ‘f*ck you. I won.’ And, you know, the Banker called with a personal offer and [what] Jordan said it’s a one in six chance. I was like, if I would have not taken that and proceeded with the game, and not have won, that would have been the biggest regret of my life.

Who deserves to win in the finale?

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Kim Stempel: If you could decide who wins the final case, who would you choose and why?

Dawson Addis: As for who wins the game?

Kim Stempel: Yes.

Dawson Addis: Oof. Honestly, I would pick Amy or Stephanie. Or Nick. Honestly, all of them. One of those three because I know they want to play a game, I know their stories, I know their personal history. They deserve to win.

Kim Stempel: The casting department did an awesome job finding such a diverse group of people so that everyone has somebody that they can root for.

Dawson Addis: Yes. They did an amazing job casting. The friends that I’ve made on that show are friends that I would never expect for me to be friends with, you know what I mean? The friends that I have out here are, like, suburban parents, you know? Yeah, I’m young, but I’m also like an old soul. Making these friends and experiencing such a lifetime experience together, that relationship and bond- it’s unbeatable.

Dawson’s reaction to Boston Rob joining the show

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Kim Stempel: What was your reaction when you realized that Boston Rob was in the game?

Dawson Addis: So, the crazy story about that is I never really watched or got big into reality TV. But during the interview process, you know I was told, ‘Hey, watch some reality TV.’ So, I put on Survivor and it was the season where his wife was on it. And I knew his face the second I saw him and I’m like, ‘What am I getting into?’ You know, this is much more intense than I was expecting. I didn’t realize they were going to bring in professionals. You know, who literally do this for a living, and I was shocked. I was shocked.

And then I also realized in that season of Survivor I watched he was playing, ‘Oh, I’m the victim because my wife’s on the show like boo-hoo me.’ Which was the same sh*t he was pulling at the beginning of the season of DONDI, saying ‘I’m the victim. I have a target on me.’

I called the bullsh*t off the bat…didn’t talk about it. You know, but I knew about it. And I knew it was all a rocking gameplay that he was playing because he is, I mean he is really good at what he does. Without a doubt.

You know, yeah, there’s drama outside the show. But you know we talked. I was like, ‘Hey dude, like in the show, I didn’t like you in the show, but we can respect each other and be mutual friends outside of the show.’

Kim Stempel: Right.

Dawson Addis: It’s all a different world we’re put in, and we have to recognize that.

Life at camp

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Kim Stempel: What were the living conditions like with the “glamping” situation?

Dawson Addis: Oh, it was great. It was great. I was so comfortable, honestly. It was waking up to the waves, [and] being fed awesome food. You know, the only downfall was the snakes and the monkeys screaming every night. And your bed would literally be wet with how humid it was because it would get so stinking hot out.

This interview was edited for conciseness and clarity.

Deal or No Deal Island continues on Monday, April 22 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.