Do you want to be the next American Idol, or accept the final rose? On the Cosmo Happy Hour Podcast, Cosmopolitan.com’s editors discussed what it’s like to not only participate in, but win some of the most popular reality and game shows on TV. Guests included Alisan Porter, season 10 winner of NBC’s The Voice, Terri Pous, two-time Jeopardy! winner, and Christy Jeffreys, winner of Oxygen’s Battle of the Ex Besties. Here, they share seven things they realized after bringing home the victory.
1. You can only win if you try to win.
Although this seems to go without saying, you can only reach point B if you leave point A. Sometimes, the fear of failing might keep you from pursuing your goals. Terri revealed that after a long time spent debating whether or not to apply for Jeopardy, she told herself, “You know what? Screw it, I’ll just take the test.” Her leap of faith and willingness to just try led her to become a two-time winner. “The decision did change my life,” she said. “I’m so happy I did it.”
2. You might have doubts.
It’s totally OK to doubt yourself, especially when you’re on public display. Eliza, who was a contestant on Jeopardy, admitted that her biggest fear was: “What if I say something really stupid and become a meme?” Inhibitions are 100 percent normal but try not to let them hold you back. Alisan said that when she won season 10 of The Voice, she was “baffled and shocked.” But regardless of whether you’re on a TV show or giving an important presentation at work, it’s important not to let your self-doubt keep you from moving forward.
3. And if you can push through, your confidence will outlast your fear.
The only way to squash your fear of failure is to practice, practice, practice. Alisan said that right before winning The Voice, she was “really able to be in the moment and be grounded and be present.” Before her Jeopardy victory, Terri said, “I knew that I knew enough to win.” After days of practicing and perfecting, the confidence that you have done your best will ultimately ground you.
4. Not everyone on the show will be out to get you.
There is definitely an air of shadiness and sabotage surrounding competition shows, but if you’re worried about that, know that not every rumor is true. “People are competitive, but only within themselves,” said Terri. Take a breath knowing that other contestants probably won’t stab you in the back (and are just as nervous as you are). “You shouldn’t psych yourself out,” she continued. “Have fun with it.”
5. But there will be drama.
If you do want to be on reality TV, know that depending on the show, tensions can arise. “The actual drama in the house was real,” Christy said of Battle of the Ex Besties. Make sure you do your research before applying to a show to ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
6. It’s all about who you know.
Connections are key, and networking is a vital necessity in creating and sustaining opportunities. When talking about how she got cast, Christy said, “One of my old roommates that I used to live with knows this casting producer and they reached out to me first.” Reality TV was never on her radar but because of who she knew, it became a possibility. Even after winning The Voice, Alisan said she still kept in touch with people from her past that could help with her newfound stardom. “I had enough personal connections from before to really navigate what this new chapter in my life would be like,” she said. “If I don’t feel supported, it doesn’t feel right to me.”
7. The money is real but so is the responsibility.
Although the experience of being on TV is great, the money can be even more rewarding. “I’ve never even seen a check that big,” Christy said of her winnings. But sometimes the money can be so unimaginable that is seems overwhelming. “It can go so quickly because you think you have so much,” she said. Depending on the show itself, you may have to wait until the finale to cash in. “They wanted to make sure we didn’t tell anybody, so I actually just got the money three weeks ago,” Christy explained. Regardless of how much dough you make or how long it takes you to get it, use your hard-earned money wisely — but treat yourself too!
To hear more about what it’s like to win big on TV, listen to the full episode.