"FAMILY FEUD" — KUTV, Jan. 10-12 and 15-16, 3 p.m. MST, TV-PG
SPANISH FORK — While on a Caribbean cruise last year, Cheri Erekson and her family had only one big question on their minds: Are we going to make it on “Family Feud?”
The family from Spanish Fork had auditioned when the TV show came to Salt Lake City in January 2017, putting on their best display of enthusiasm to win over the producers. After a long stint of fervent clapping and jumping up and down, the family was then told that in four to six weeks, if selected, a postcard would await them in the mail.
When the cruise came to an end, Erekson ran to her mailbox.
“When we got back, it’s the fourth week and we didn’t get a card,” Erekson recalled. “Then the fifth week comes and we didn’t get a card and I’m like, ‘OK, something’s weird. I swear they liked us.'”
But things changed on Feb. 13, when Erekson received a call from one of the producers saying, “Hey, we want the Ereksons to come to ‘Family Feud.’”
And the Ereksons did more than just show up. The family, whose episodes initially aired September 2017, ended up winning five games — the maximum a family is allowed to win. In total, each family member walked away with about $14,000. Those that missed the Erekson family’s long run on “Family Feud” can catch it the second time around starting Wednesday, Jan. 10.
Joining Cheri Erekson on the show was her oldest son — and the family’s team captain — Zac Erekson, former wide receiver on Brigham Young University's football team, and her three daughters, Ashley, Nikki and Brittany. On March 23, 2017, the family flew to the “Family Feud” headquarters in Atlanta to put all of their energy and preparation to the test.
But during the first day in the studio, the only game they played was the waiting game.
“They film four (shows) a day and four families got called before us. When that fourth family was called, the assistant producer comes over and talks to us and says, ‘Listen, tomorrow morning, you come back with that same energy and just know that we know what we’re doing.’ I was mad, I’m not gonna lie. But my kids were fine,” Erekson said with a laugh.
The next morning, the Ereksons ended up being the first family to go on the show, and they won every single game that day, plus their fifth game the next morning. When asked about her winning strategy, Cheri Erekson said it comes down to one simple thing: trust.
“The best part was being together with my children and experiencing something so awesome,” she said. “And we even said, ‘Even if we win one game, we’re going to be happy.’ We are such a tight-knit family, which people that know us know that we do almost everything together — that's just us — so we kind of trusted each other when we said, ‘No, this is the answer.’ We just trusted each other’s knowledge. It was awesome.”
Erekson did add that on a game show such as “Family Feud,” it’s important to not overthink things.
“I think that’s where you go astray is you’re thinking so much or so hard,” she said. “But when the 100 people answer these questions, they’re not thinking really hard. They’re thinking even some crazy things. And Steve Harvey even tells you, I can’t remember, something like, 'You gotta think like a stupid person.'”
Meeting the game show host was another highlight for Erekson, who was impressed with his warmth, kindness and faith.
“To film one show (takes) about two hours, and you only see 20 minutes of it because Steve Harvey talks and interacts with the audience,” she said. “And he’s a very faith-driven man now. He does kind of have a racy mouth, but he also believes in God and he makes that known. He talks to everybody about it. In between each game, he talks about his life and how he got to where he is, and halfway through his career he figured out through another man helping him that there is a God, and if you have faith in him, that things will work out if you do your part. He tells everybody that.”
Although each member of the Erekson family walked away with about $14,000 from their games in September, they didn’t actually receive their checks until Dec. 20, as the TV show has up to 90 days after the air date to pay its contestants. Erekson anticipates she’ll put the money toward traveling — maybe going on another cruise or taking her children and grandchildren to Disney World.
“I would never want to do anything without my kids and it was just awesome to be able to be with them (on the show)," Erekson said. "It was just the best thing to do with my kids, and one thing the executive producer said is, ‘Once in a while, you’ll find a family that truly loves and likes each other, and you guys are it.’”