Families turn to Winning Streak to pay rising bills
HARD-PRESSED contestants are applying to Winning Streak in order to win money to cover their mortgages and day to day bills.
The presenters of the Saturday night gameshow said a large number of contestants are struggling financially and the gameshow is often viewed as a "last chance saloon".
"I remember we had a man who couldn't even pay his rent and he ended up winning €20,000," show presenter Geri Maye told the Herald.
"There are a lot of other similar situations where people's electricity has been cut off. The show can be fun but it can also be serious.
"It can get quite emotional when people under these kinds of pressures win big, it is a great feeling," she added.
The presenters of Europe's longest running game show say that the enthusiasm for the show has not changed over the years.
However, the recession has altered some people's reasons for applying to appear on the popular programme.
"We definitely have seen an economic element to the show," said co-presenter Marty Whelan agreed. "It's not all about holidays. A few years ago people may have been looking for extra cash to enjoy themselves, but the situation is different for a lot of people nowadays.
"This is the reality and the programme is making a difference. Cash does it for people these days," added Marty.
Winning Streak has had its fair share of heartbreaking moments as the reality of people's tough financial situations is transferred on to the screen.
Sometimes the situation can be quite emotional with the parents of young people who have emigrated to find work abroad revealing their pain live on air, according to the presenters.
"It can be quite emotional and we can see some upset parents for example, but in general it is a feel-good programme and it is great to see people's reactions when they do well," Geri said.
"We give out proper money and the show is changing people's lives," added Geri who joined the show last year.
Winning Streak forks out an average of €200,000 every week, with one contestant given the chance to win half a million euros if chosen to spin the big wheel.
"You see some game shows in other countries where it is not as financially rewarding and it can be hard to understand that, but we give out €200,000 every single weekend.
"I love seeing people do well," added Geri.
The new series, now in its 25th year, returned to our screens earlier this month and airs every Saturday at 8.20pm on RTE1.
"We continue to reinvent and rework the show, which is why it is still so popular," Winning Streak producer Claire Hughes said.
"It's an all round family show, a feel-good show and people love it," she added.