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Meet the 1st male briefcase model to grace the ‘Deal or No Deal’ franchise

Since debuting on NBC in 2005, Deal or No Deal and its host, Howie Mandel, have become part of the game show lexicon. Now the series’s latest iteration is shaking things up with a few bold changes.

Premiering Monday on NBC, Deal or No Deal Island transports 13 players to the elusive Banker’s private island. Hidden on the island are 100 briefcases with a combined value of over $200 million. Players compete to retrieve the cases through a series of challenges. The last one standing will face the Banker to potentially win the biggest prize in the franchise’s history.

Don’t expect to see 26 women holding briefcases. The island is only big enough for the show’s host, Joe Manganiello, and two models. Ben Crofchick and Kamari Love, the only models on the show, also act as the Banker’s eyes and ears throughout the series.

While male models have appeared on episodes of the original Deal or No Deal series, a representative for NBC confirmed with Yahoo Entertainment that Crofchick is the first male briefcase model to become a series regular on the American franchise.

It’s a humbling achievement for Crofchick, who told Yahoo Entertainment that he nearly missed the deadline last year to send his audition tape to the show’s casting department.

“I guess it was meant to be,” said Crofchick, who was a sales rep before turning to modeling full time in 2019. “I still shock myself that I model at all, so to think that I’m the first [regular] male model to open the briefcase, it’s incredible.”

‘It’s about representing everyone’

For Crofchick, the job is about much more than opening a briefcase; it’s a testament to the growing demand to showcase “all kinds of bodies and experiences” on television, he says.

“Ben is so much more than a briefcase model,” Corie Henson, executive vice president of unscripted content at NBCUniversal, told Yahoo Entertainment. “With the move from a studio to this gorgeous tropical island, we wanted to reimagine the show, and part of that change is being more inclusive in how we cast.”

Crofchick takes that idea seriously.

“Deal or No Deal is an iconic show, and the female models are a big part of it,” he said. “It’s about representing everyone instead of a specific, generational idea of what beauty is. Everyone has a chance to see what appeals to them nowadays, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

Crofchick believes that TV models are no longer just “pretty face[s] who hit their mark,” but rather an embodiment of the idea that confidence looks and feels different to everyone.

“The modeling world is starting to show that beauty is on many types of spectrums,” he said. “Any model in my position or any model in the past that’s done what I’m doing, being a TV model, they’ll say it’s more than just the idea of standing there looking good. You’re selling something. You’re selling yourself.”

Kamari Love and Ben Crofchick are the model duo on NBC's Deal or No Deal Island. (Patrick Ecclesine/NBC)Kamari Love and Ben Crofchick are the model duo on NBC's Deal or No Deal Island. (Patrick Ecclesine/NBC)

Kamari Love and Ben Crofchick are the model duo on NBC’s Deal or No Deal Island. (Patrick Ecclesine/NBC)

That’s a feeling he had to tap into when he began modeling. Crofchick said that casting directors called him “overweight” and routinely criticized his body.

“We all have an idea of what sells to me, what sells to you,” he would tell himself. “I realized that when you find the beauty in yourself first, people can’t help but see it too. With modeling, you can help people who are insecure find their own confidence, and that’s what I try to do in the show.”

That’s especially true when Crofchick is tasked with revealing potentially life-changing news to contestants in the form of monetary prizes.

“It’s the easiest type of modeling because it’s the most pure. I never have to fake a reaction,” he said. “When it’s a good case, it’s easy to smile and sell it to them in a happy way. But when the show gets farther in the season, opening the case gets hard. I don’t want to open it and show what the amount could be because a lot is riding on it.”

Looking ahead, Crofchick said TV models have an important role to play for younger generations, to not be seen as an object but more of a role model. That’s an attitude he plans on taking with him off the island.

“Your humility and how you treat people is the most beautiful thing,” he said. “That’s going to carry you longer than anything else. If my career ended today, or if it continues for 20 years, that’s what I’ll take with me.”

Deal or No Deal Island premieres Feb. 26 at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC and is streaming Feb. 27 on Peacock.

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