Ellen Degeneres Show surprises Army spouse
March 24, 2009
FORT IRWIN, Calif. (Army News Service, March 24, 2009) -- For Shelea Diles, the meaning of green on St. Patrick's Day translated into dollars and lots of them.
On March 17, Diles was greeted by a production crew from The Ellen Degeneres Show at the home she and her husband, Sgt. Tommy Diles, share at Fort Irwin, Calf.
Diles, who was speaking on the telephone with an unrecognizable caller asks, "Who's this'"
"This is Ellen," Ellen Degeneres announced. "Ellen, Ellen'" Diles excitedly asked. "Oh my gosh!" Diles yelled, as she realized what was about to happen.
Diles had been selected for a special segment on The Ellen Degeneres Show called "Gold Digger Across America."
Simultaneously, a mobile Gold Digger booth pulled up in front of the Diles home.
Directed by the production crew, Mrs. Diles, her husband, Tommy and their nine year old daughter, Ayanna, ran to the booth located on the back of a Warner Brothers truck. Degeneres announced that there was $2,000 in the booth and for her to grab as much cash as she could.
Air blowing bills inside the booth, Diles grabbed and shoved bills in her pockets, boots, and her shirt.
When 30 seconds had passed, Degeneres said, "Tommy, thank you for writing in. We know times are tough. "So, why don't you go ahead and take the full $2,000."
Degeneres thanked Sgt. Diles for his service to the country. "Thanks for entertaining us," Sgt. Diles said.
Sgt. Diles, 58th Combat Engineer Company, returned from Iraq about four weeks ago and wrote an e-mail to the show discussing why his wife should get to participate.
"My wife has been a fan of Ellen for years," said Sgt. Diles. "I found The Ellen Web site saved in my wife's Internet favorites and wrote them an e-mail.
"Mounting student loans, her support as a mother, wife, accountant and the one who takes care of everything while I am deployed was reason enough. She does it all," Sgt. Diles said.
"The very next day, I was contacted by someone from the show that my letter was selected as a finalist. "I know thousands of people write in. I just never thought my letter would win," said Sgt. Diles.
In the closing minutes of the show, Degeneres asked Mrs. Diles to come back up to the booth for another $1,000. In total, the day produced $3,000 plus an additional 25 percent to cover taxes for the Diles family.
Asked what the Diles family plans to do with their winnings, Mrs. Diles said, "He has been gone for 15 months to Iraq. We may take a honeymoon now. "
"We have just never had the money or the means to do that with student loans and other bills. I am ecstatic," said Mrs. Diles.
(Kelsy Hustead serves as community relations officer with the Fort Irwin Public Affairs Office.)