Hawkinsville Family Wins Big on 'Ellen' Show, Plans Okla. Donation

2:49 PM, May 24, 2013   |    comments
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by Chris Horne, 13WMAZ.com


- Holly and Jeremy Goss of Hawkinsville flew to Los Angeles to appear on the "Ellen Degeneres Show."

- They won $20,000 from Viggle and a home makeover from JC Penney and HDTV.

- The family is donating their old furniture and electronics to victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes.

Holly Goss can barely speak now. Her voice is somewhere between a scratch and a whisper. She says she hasn't stopped crying for a week.

And she has no idea what's going on with her house or what it looks like today.

That's a good thing.

If you were watching the Ellen Degeneres Show on Tuesday, you probably know why. 

Holly and her husband, Jeremy, were not just guests on the popular talk show, but they were surprised with a home makeover and a suitcase filled with $20,000 in cash.

Well, the cash in the suitcase was fake, even though the prize money was real.

"Our bank called and asked if we needed a police escort to the bank," Goss said, laughing as she admitted she couldn't immediately tell it was just a prop.

Twists and Turns

It started with a surprise. First, a producer called to set up a Skype interview. 

As the 27-year-old mother of three waited for her interview, she received a call from the famous comedienne herself.

Then a knock on the door. A show producer.

The Goss family would be flying out to Los Angeles. Hollywood. 

But Jeremy had never taken a plane before. And how would the 10-month-old twin girls and 3-year-old Hunter handle it? The family would all be fish out of water.

"California is not Georgia," Holly pointed out, saying they had fun but... "I missed the dirt roads so bad."

In L.A., the couple stood backstage watching the show, never expecting to actually appear on TV. After all, they're from Hawkinsville, a tight-knit but tiny town of about 5,000 people.

Then Ellen called them out to join her, the crowd cheered and their 15 minutes of fame officially began.

"It's a big deal if you're just on Channel 13," Holly gushed.

Since the appearance, she says she's been humbled by the positive response from around the country. People as far away as Louisiana and Wisconsin -- and even one from Australia -- have congratulated her on Facebook.

But she's been bowled over by the kindness from the people back home.

"I went out to pay some bills and it took me four hours to get to three places," she exclaimed.

Big Hearts

Jeremy works long hours to keep a roof over their heads. Holly stays home with their three young kids. So the prize money will come in handy. The upgrades will be nice. 

But the life-long Hawkinsville residents were happy together before all that.

This August, the couple celebrates their fifth anniversary, having married just four weeks after they ran into each other at her sister's cookout.

They went to school together, but they weren't high school sweethearts. 

In fact, the first time they dated, it just didn't click.

"We were young and dumb." 

But the second time around?

"I knew immediately he was the one."

They don't need much because they have each other. 

"There's a difference between needing something and wanting something," she says.

On the way back to Georgia, their plane was diverted through New Mexico and Texas because of the storms over Oklahoma. When they landed, Holly says she was moved by how much damage was done by the tornadoes. 

So she decided to try to help others as she had just been helped.

"I was going to pay it forward to the people in my community, but the people in Oklahoma are so much worse off than we are right now," Holly says.

So as the professional designers from JC Penney and HGTV are refitting the old home with a new look, the Goss family arranged with producers to have their furniture and electronics sent to people and organizations in Oklahoma who need it.

"I don't feel like I deserve all this," Holly confesses.

The $20,000 prize came from a contest with Viggle, an app that rewards people for checking in when they watch TV. And it was already a big help. The trip out west was a real treat.

But Degeneres had one more card up her sleeve, one more kindness to bestow.

On the show, the couple said they had to stay with Holly's mother last winter because their home didn't have central heating and air.

The host took care of that by springing the home makeover on them, including an HVAC upgrade.

"It's just amazing that someone from across the country could care so much for you," Holly says. "Stuff like this doesn't happen to everyone." 

Down Home

At heart, Holly says she's just a country girl from Hawkinsville. She loves her family, treasures her friends. She doesn't need anything fancy. 

When they went with the designers to JC Penney to select the look for their home, Holly said they were so overwhelmed they couldn't "pick out the first thing." 

So they put it all in the hands of the professionals.

"That's why y'all get paid the big money, right?"

The only guidance she gave them: "I want it to be comfortable enough that the President could walk in, kick off his shoes and plop down on the couch and feel at home." 

Now, there's one more surprise to come.

Though they're back in their Pulaski County town, the Goss family hasn't seen their house in days because they promised not to peek while the designers went to work. 

They'll be flying back to Hollywood on Monday for another turn on national TV. 

But the folks back home shouldn't worry about this going to her head. Holly Goss is just grateful.

"From the bottom of my heart and Jeremy's, I just want to say to the people of our community -- and even the people in the surrounding counties -- thank you so much for all the kindness you've shown us." 

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