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Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Jessica Robinson talks to the media about winning $1 million on the NBC game show "Deal or No Deal."

Just because Jessica Robinson is going to use the $1 million she won on "Deal or No Deal" to move out of Utah doesn't mean she doesn't like the state.

However, she's never quite felt at home here.

"I live in Sandy. I'm from Houston, Texas," she said the day after she was revealed as the first-ever million-dollar winner on the NBC game show.

And financing a move to Austin is Plan No. 1 when the check comes in January — minus about 42 percent for taxes. But, Robinson insisted, it's not because she dislikes Utah.

"Oh, no. We love Utah," she said. "Every time I've been driving home since we decided we're moving, it's, like, 'Oh, those mountains are so beautiful.' But I hate snow. And it's not a personal thing for Utah. I hate snow in Colorado or in Alaska."

"It's the weather thing. But we love it here."

Robinson met her husband, Ross, when they were in college — he was at Brigham Young University; she was at Utah Valley. And then, after he finished school, Ross Robinson accepted a job in Utah.

"We got married right after we graduated and we've been here ever since," she said.

Robinson made it clear that what she really wanted to do was win enough money on the show to leave the Beehive state for the Lone Star state. She even thinks that helped her get on the show when she auditioned in Salt Lake City in April.

"I think it was, 'I'm pregnant and I want to go to Texas.' And I was totally crazy at the audition," she said. "It was like, Yee-ha! ... I'm not like that all the time. I promise."

By the time she taped her episode of "Deal or No Deal" in early July, Robinson was 30 weeks pregnant. (She's due on Sept. 30, her own birthday.)

The 27-year-old wife and mother of one used the show to announce the new baby's gender to her husband, Ross (in July), and the rest of her family — and the rest of America — on Monday.

An announcement had been randomly places in one of the suitcases, and when No. 13 was opened it declared, "It's a boy!"

The odds of becoming "Deal or No Deal's' first million-dollar winner were better than usual for Robinson. Instead of having one million-dollar suitcase out of 26, this episode had five.

"It was more than a pleasant surprise, but it also kind of messed up my strategy," she said.

Her strategy was to pick the suitcase she thought contained $1 million and pre-determine which two she thought contained the second- and third-highest amounts.

Robinson chose one of the five million-dollar suitcases as the game began and stuck with it until the end, even when she was offered $561,000 to give up and go home. Robinson spurned the offer, declaring, "I have Texas guts, y'all!"

She did have something to fall back on — she knew that if her suitcase didn't contain $1 million, it would contain $200,000. And that made it "a lot easier than if it was $200, because, obviously, I would not have gone for it. That is dumb.

"But I turned down more than half a million dollars," she said. "Go big or go home, right?"

At this point, her overwhelming feeling is one of relief.

"It's crazy. It's overwhelming," Robinson said. "But at the same time, I've known for a couple months. I'm just relieved not to have to keep any more secrets."

Her immediate family, of course, knew about the money because they were with her when she appeared on the show. But, contractually, she couldn't tell anyone else the results.

And that was "really, really, really hard," she said with a laugh. "People try to get it out of you.... Let me tell you how fun it was to go to church. Or go to any social event.

"I would tell people, 'I didn't win (only) a penny. It's a show worth watching. I'm not a total idiot on the show.'"

And, by taking a chance, Robinson became one of Utah's biggest TV winners without having to sing or dance.

"I think it's a fun show," she said. "It's funny to see crazy people or stupid people.... This is the best game show."


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com