I Claudia: My lie was smellin’ when I visited Ellen

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia Mug Shot-Color

The truth shall set you free! 

            It’s 2015. I’ve decided to start this year by exposing a skeleton in my closet. Journalism is a profession that requires trust and credibility.

It is best I own up now before I become famous and the entertainment journalists’ get a hold of this. 

            Sigh! Here it May of 2008, I won a 2008 Buick Enclave on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show’ under false pretenses.

            I know. I know. You’re shocked and disappointed. Me too! 

But, I can explain.

            I love the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.’’ I discovered it when I left corporate America to become a stay-at-home mom, when my daughter, Donae, was born seven years ago.

 I was flicking through channels one afternoon and witnessed this trendy, white lady, breaking it down to hip-hop music. Not only was the audience engaged, they were practically forming a “Soul Train” line with her.

It was contagious.

With Donae strapped on me in her baby sling, I busted a few moves myself. 

            I found Ellen to be fresh, entertaining and funny. From that day forward, I held a standing reservation with her program. During one of those episodes she announced she’d be taping a show in Chicago and I declared, “I will be in that audience!”

            The problem was, despite my efforts, I couldn’t get tickets.

            The Mike Haggerty Buick GMC dealership in Oak Lawn was one of Ellen’s sponsors.

 They had a ticket sweepstakes but I didn’t win there either.

I started begging family members to enter and my brother-in-law became the one to manifest my win. However, retrieving the tickets wasn’t instantaneous and he didn’t want to play any further. So, I told him I’d take care of everything, all he’d have to do was attend the show. He acquiesced and gave me the producer’s information so I could complete the process of securing our seats. I had an unsubstantiated theory that Ellen’s producer might be reluctant to communicate with anyone other than him, so I claimed to be his wife.

            BIG MISTAKE!

            The producer I corresponded with was Kara Hogan. Her infectious personality was alluring. She appreciated my enthusiasm for the Ellen show. She asked if my husband and I would be interested in arriving to the show early so she could thank us in person. She said we would be joined by a few other Ellen fans and we’d also receive preferred seating.

            “Would we?” I said. “We’d be thrilled.”

            I now needed to inform my fake husband/brother-in-lawof this honor we were being bestowed. He wasn’t happy about the façade but he didn’t figure my little lie would pose a problem. Well, that little lie began to snowball and became a boulder that couldn’t be concealed. And, I wasn’t the only person hurt when it rolled.

            On the day of the taping, we were grouped with about 20 selected fans. All audience members are required to sign waivers upon entry. And, it’s explained that anyone can be randomly selected by Ellen from the audience during the show. Knowing that gave me a surge of desire.

            “Pick me. Pick me”, I said in my mind. The law of attraction did not disappoint.

            Ellen has a game segment where audience members get to compete for prizes. I nearly jumped three feet when I heard her call me and my brother-in-law to the stage to play.

The memory holds extra significance because the late Robin Williams was her celebrity guest that day. He was still on stage when we were called up. I couldn’t believe I was sharing the stage with Ellen and Robin Williams in front of a live audience of 5,000.

We chatted, danced and joked. Then, we started the game segment. Me, my brother-in-law, along with about 15 audience members, including Robin and Ellen all had to cram inside a Buick Enclave within a certain period of time in order to win.

            Robin kept yelling, “Get the seats down. You gotta get them seats down!”             I just remember rolling into a ball, eyes closed, praying we were all in before hearing the buzzer sound. I thought we were playing for a Tivo or maybe a TV. But, when the game ended, Ellen handed me the key to a 2008 Buick Enclave valued at $45,000. 

            I screamed until I depleted my lungs and nearly fainted.

            My fervor dissipated when it came time to officially claim the prize. The waivers my fake husband and I filled out revealed different addresses. Mine in particular, had my actual husband, Don’s name listed as my emergency contact.

               We were BUSTED!  I won a car and lost my credibility.

               I felt awful! I e-mailed Kara to apologize and she replied saying, “Was this really for the ticket? I liked you the minute we chatted... I was really looking forward to meeting you and loved your didn't have to lie...we would’ve wanted you there no matter if he was your husband or in-law... life is too short for betraying who you are for a ticket to the Ellen show.”

               I’ll always regret losing the opportunity to become Kara’s friend and that I left her with the impression I was a dishonest person. But, I also recognize what happen wasn’t my intention. And therefore have released the shame and self-condemning thoughts of association. No-one exercises perfect judgment 100 percent of the time. A common best practice is to own your mistakes by confessing them and asking forgiveness. If your heart is sincere, you will feel free. The truth always prevails.

               What happened to the car? Well, since me and my brother-in-law weren’t an actual married couple, it was awarded to him because he was the official ticket winner. He gave it to my mother-in-law, who had been praying for a new vehicle.

               She still drives it today and gives God total credit for the blessing, as she should.