Comedian Ellen DeGeneres surprised the ASU community Tuesday when a crew from her talk show rolled onto the Tempe campus to film a segment and hand out cash prizes.
Hundreds of students crowded in front of ASU Gammage, carrying or wearing all sorts of items to win a challenge that DeGeneres announced via Twitter on Monday.
“Hey, Arizona State University (@ASU). Wanna be on my show & win some prizes? Pay attention to my tweets tomorrow,” she tweeted.
Early Tuesday, DeGeneres posted a tweet telling students to bring three items starting with the letters “A, S & U” to Gammage. The tweet emphasized for people to be creative in order to win “huge” prizes.
At the end of the night, the winning group took home $5,000 and three other groups won $1,000 each.
An ASU official was contacted by The Ellen DeGeneres Show Monday to organize the event, and the details of the segment weren’t revealed to the public until Tuesday afternoon.
DeGeneres informed the ASU community through her Twitter page. She hinted at a possible event at the University on Monday when she sent out a tweet.
“Ellen chose this place because it is iconic; it’s a signature building for Arizona and for ASU,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director of ASU Gammage. She received word of the event on Monday.
Students crowded outside the theater with their creative interpretations of “A, S, and U.”
Some came dressed as Avatar characters, Santa Claus or Smurfs. Many were wearing Snuggies, carrying ukuleles, and even riding unicycles.
A production assistant of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” walked around to select the students with the most creative ideas.
The finalists competed against each other on a taping of the show.
By: Jordan Frakes and Ashton Buccola
DeGeneres filmed the in-studio portion of the show in Burbank, Calif., and communicated with the ASU students on a large screen outside Gammage.
DeGeneres gave the finalists instructions to create a short song about why she should give them money for spring break. The finalists had eight to 10 minutes to create their song.
Performance junior Michael Bryce and earth and space exploration freshman Nicholas Knaus were both wearing afros, sunglasses and only underwear to represent their “A, S and U” items.
With Knaus playing an acoustic guitar and Bryce on vocals they wrote a song about removing clothing for spring break. Bryce and Knaus won the grand prize of $5,000 and were nearly brought to tears.
“We are going to Disneyland,” said Bryce. “We originally wrote a song before this so we lucked out that Ellen wanted to hear it.”
Bryce and Knaus said the original idea for an “S” was sunglasses as well as a song. They had prepared the song beforehand and tweaked it to match DeGeneres’ instructions.
The ASU students were given a suitcase full of cash upon the announcement of winning. The other three finalists each won $1,000.
Microbiology senior Candace Kim and taxation graduate student Christina Salhuaha arrived with green antennas and a sofa, and were wearing black unitards to represent their “A, S and U” items.
“This is really exciting,” Kim said. “I had no idea we would win anything after they announced the winner and it wasn’t us.”
Kim and Salhuaha were one of the three groups that won $1,000. They planned on paying bills and traveling for spring break with their prize money.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” episode featuring the ASU event is expected to air Wednesday at 4 p.m.
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