These Famous Faces Have All Been Briefcase Girls On Deal Or No Deal

Chances are you’ve probably seen an episode of Deal or No Deal at some point in your life. And maybe by doing that you caught a glimpse of somebody before they were famous. A number of the young “briefcase girls” on the show went on to bigger things – one in particular onto much bigger things.

The popular game show, presented by Howie Mandel in the United States, originally came from the Netherlands. Since its inception in 2002 the Deal or No Deal concept has been all around the world. There’s an element of math to it, but in all honesty you need luck as well as smarts to win.

The show makes for great television. Contestants must choose a briefcase that has an unknown sum of money inside. After learning how much cash they potentially stand to win, they can either “deal” and take an offer from the game’s off-screen “banker” or continue to pick out briefcases. Viewers will often be shouting at the screen while the player decides.

Obviously, taking the “no deal” option is a risk, because the contestant has no way of being sure what sum will be in the final box that they’ll be left with. Plenty of people have walked away with a large sum of money, but many others have gone home groaning about the decision they made.

Deal or No Deal is so tantalizing precisely because it’s very much possible to win big without needing any particular skill. You don’t have to answer questions or complete obstacle courses, you only have to open briefcases. And people have turned down the banker and walked away with a million dollars.

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And another reason the show is so popular is the briefcase girls. They provide a charming distraction for some of the players and viewers. They’re much more than pretty faces, though, and you’ve definitely heard some of their names beyond Deal or No Deal. So let’s learn more about them.

Claudia Jordan

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Claudia Jordan was unsurprisingly noted for her beauty before she entered the world of television. She competed in Miss Teen USA during 1990 and then seven years later she earned the title of Miss Rhode Island, which only one other African-American had ever done previously. But Deal or No Deal was her big break.

After her stint as a briefcase girl, Jordan moved on to other things. She became a reality TV star with the show Real Housewives of Atlanta, the franchise’s most-watched entry. Jordan also notably objected via social media to the dearth of racial diversity in the Real Housewives shows. So between TV and Twitter, she’s definitely a name to watch.

Katie Cleary

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Katie Cleary was a contestant on the debut season of hit show America’s Next Top Model. She also appeared in many commercials at the start of her career for the likes of Nike, Proactive and InterContinental Hotels. But it was her stint on Deal or No Deal that made her properly famous.

Cleary’s role on the show was briefcase girl #11, and that was more than enough to get people to notice her. She was even named among of the most beautiful women in the world by People magazine. Cleary has gone on to host multiple shows, including HDTV’s Get Out and various animal- and vegan- related series.

Cleary is amazingly devoted to animals. She does voluntary work for rescue charities, for instance, including the sanctuary for big cats set up by the famous actress Tippi Hedren. Not only that but she also has her own organization, Peace 4 Animals, which has done plenty of good deeds for creatures great and small.

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In a 2012 interview with K9 magazine Cleary was asked who inspired her. She chose both Cindy Crawford “because of her beauty, poise and strength as a powerful woman in the modeling world” and also Jane Goodall, because of all the activism work she’d done for animals. So far Cleary’s a combo of them both.

Marisa Petroro

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Petroro, a beauty with Argentine and Italian heritage, competed in pageants from a very young age. Then as a young woman she began to work as an actress. At the same time, Petroro took the role of briefcase girl #18 on Deal or No Deal. And she was so successful that she stuck around for four seasons.

After that Petroro continued to act. She’s had small roles in an impressive amount of very popular TV shows, including Scrubs, Dexter, Desperate Housewives and Rules of Engagement. She also had a part in the film Le Mans ’66, aka Ford V Ferrari, which picked up two Oscars.

Lisa Gleave

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Australian model Lisa Gleave worked on the U.S. version of Deal or No Deal, holding briefcase number 3. Before that, she’d been a “Barker’s Beauty” for The Price is Right. In a 2006 interview with website The Trades, Gleave said, “A lot of people have misconceptions about people in the business, especially models, being stuck-up when actually they’re probably the most down-to-earth people you’ll get to know.”

And that sweet statement apparently applied to Meghan Markle, Lisa’s fellow Deal or No Deal briefcase girl, as well. In 2020 the blonde told the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper that the Duchess had been “quiet but very sweet” and added, “I was so happy for her when I heard about the marriage.”

She’s no longer on Deal or No Deal, but the Aussie beauty queen has gone on to plenty of success. Gleave describes herself on her Instagram profile as an “internationally published model,” as well as an actress and TV host. And you might have spotted her in movies including 2006’s Accepted and 2013’s Night of the Templar.

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Leyla Milani

Leyla Milani wanted to be in show-business ever since she was a girl. She was a young model and even hosted a TV show at her high school before she’d reached her teens. And when she relocated to LA from Canada, the world was her oyster. She began working in fashion and at 20 she already had her own clothes brand in stores: Leyla Jeans Couture.

But Milani also wanted to do something not often associated with fashionistas or models… wrestling! In 2005 Milani competed in the WWE Raw Diva Search, and for eight weeks she wrestled against women selected from thousands of auditionees. She didn’t win the first prize, but Milani did end being ranked as the number two Diva in the competition. That’s not bad at all.

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Her work with the WWE helped make Milani famous. And after that she became even more popular as a Deal or No Deal briefcase girl. She held box 13, so Howie Mandel tended to refer to her as “lucky number thirteen.” He was right to, since her box had the $1,000,000 inside on numerous occasions.

Milani has been the host for wrestling shows such as 2010’s Wrestlicious Takedown, and she’s also expanded her fashion company with a hair-extension brand, Milani Hair. Speaking to the website Beauty Bay in 2020, she counted her Deal or No Deal role among her favorites. Considering all she’s done, that’s saying something.

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Hayley Marie Norman

Hayley Marie Norman was discovered by a superstar of the modeling world. In the fall of 2019 Norman told the website Voyage LA, “I got my start at just a few years old when my dad and I were approached by Cindy Crawford at Gladstones in Malibu. She suggested he get me into modeling, and who were we to not take Ms. Crawford up on her advice?!” Too right.

In that same interview Norman recalled the thing she was most proud of. “When I was cast as a co-host/briefcase presenter on Deal or No Deal, I was one of the only, if not the only, person on primetime television during this period who wore their afro,” the model recalled. “I got letters from women all around the world who were inspired to go natural after seeing me on the show.” So she’s not only famous but influential, too.

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Patricia Kara

Patricia Kara has been a briefcase girl on two separate iterations of Deal or No Deal. She appeared on the first show for four years from 2005 and then on the daytime edition between 2008 and 2010. When she wasn’t holding up the shiny silver suitcases, she presented various shows and red carpet events as well.

In a 2018 interview for the official Deal or No Deal website, Patricia was asked what her happiest time on the show was. She answered, “My favorite memory is all the people I worked with on both primetime and the daytime shows. It changed my life personally and professionally! I really love watching the contestants’ lives change for the better!” Awww.

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Laura Shields

Laura Shields was the only British woman to appear on the American version of Deal or No Deal. She held briefcase number 22 for one season. The half-Sri Lankan, half-English model is undoubtedly very beautiful, and she has a remarkable brain as well. She’s even a member of the Mensa organization for super-smart folks.

Laura graduated from high school with impressive grades and then began a chemical engineering degree while simultaneously competing in beauty pageants. In 2007 she spoke to the Manchester Evening News newspaper about her IQ of 150 and her ambitions as a model. At the time she was about to appear in the Miss England contest, and she shared her thoughts about the event.

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“The Miss World competition is changing,” the young model said. “Most of last year’s contestants spoke several languages. All the girls I’ve met so far have been lovely… But at the end of the day I’ve got my degree to fall back on and no one can take that away from me.” There you go: living proof that models aren’t dumb.

Chrissy Teigen

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A young Chrissy Teigen was discovered in a California surf boutique, and she just rose and rose from there. In 2007, after embarking on a modeling career that included being an “IGN Babe,” she became a briefcase girl on Deal or No Deal.

During an appearance on the Watch What Happens Live show in 2018, Teigen told host Andy Cohen about her experiences. “I got demoted because I couldn’t walk down the stairs,” she said. “Like I literally was fired, well not fired, but I couldn’t be a ‘briefcase girl’ so they made me a ‘banker girl.’ I don’t even know. It was a very blurry time.” Well, their loss was everyone else’s gain.

Teigen also worked alongside Meghan Markle on the show, and these days she’s very much “a fan” of hers. “I was on Deal or No Deal with her and she was lovely,” the star told the Daily Mail in 2018. “Now everyone asks me what she was like and I say, ‘Sorry, no dirt.’ She’s gorgeous.”

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“That could be me,” Teigen joked. “I could be Princess Harry.” Meghan wasn’t the only one who became one half of a super-couple, though. Teigen married singer John Legend in 2013. Ever since then, Legend’s been writing songs for her, including his global hit “All of Me.” They also have two children together.

There’s no doubt Teigen has been incredibly successful in showbusiness as well. In 2015 she became one of the hosts of the show Lip Sync Battle. And then a year later she released a cookbook that became one of 2016 ‘s highest sellers. All that, and she has a massive following on social media, too.

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Meghan Markle

Even though many of the briefcase girls have done extremely well, you’d find it hard to get much higher than royalty. As the world knows, Meghan was cast in the TV show Suits after her stint on Deal or Not Deal. And while working as an actress, she met a very eligible bachelor named Prince Harry.

Prince Harry and Meghan married in the summer of 2018 at Windsor Castle, just outside London, England. It was a ceremony that made headlines all over the world. Harry was overheard telling Meghan, “You look amazing,” at the altar, and indeed she did. Upon saying her vows, Meghan was officially titled the Duchess of Sussex.

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In January 2020 Meghan and Harry, now parents to a baby son, sensationally stepped down as working royals and made plans to become financially independent. At the time, the Queen was said to be shocked if not outright angry. But in the months since, the pair seem to have settled into their new roles.

The Duchess’ past as an actress and as a Deal or No Deal briefcase girl has naturally garnered plenty of attention. Meghan herself spoke about her experiences with the game show before she married Prince Harry. And though the series was watched by a lot of people, to the then-unknown actress it was just another job.

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Back during 2013 a pre-royalty Meghan informed Esquire magazine, “I would put [Deal or No Deal] in the category of things I was doing while I was auditioning to try to make ends meet. I went from working in the U.S. Embassy in Argentina to ending up on Deal. It’s run the gamut.”

“I would end up standing up there forever in these terribly uncomfortable and inexpensive five-inch heels just waiting for someone to pick my number so I could go and sit down,” Meghan added. “Definitely working on Deal or No Deal was a learning experience, and it helped me to understand what I would rather be doing.”

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But, according to Harper’s Bazaar, in August 2018 Howie Mandel went on the Television Critics Association press tour and said of the briefcase girls, “These are all accomplished people that have something substantial – they’re not just standing there holding a case. They have careers, they have hobbies, they have families, they’re entrepreneurial.” He was completely correct in that.

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