Large family from Belgrade auditions for ‘Family Feud’

Pictured (from left): Amanda Lieser, Katie Gruber, Tiffany Breitbach, Samantha Hemmesch and Stacie Braegelman pose next to a poster of Family Feud host Steve Harvey during their auditions to be in the show in Minneapolis.
Pictured (from left): Amanda Lieser, Katie Gruber, Tiffany Breitbach, Samantha Hemmesch and Stacie Braegelman pose next to a poster of Family Feud host Steve Harvey during their auditions to be in the show in Minneapolis.

By Kerry Drager

This fall, the nation may meet some of Belgrade’s finest on the game show “Family Feud.” This bucket list item has become a reality for five cousins. Tiffany Breitbach, Amanda Lieser, Stacie Braegelman, Samantha Hemmesch and Katie Gruber spent their childhood together while spending time with their grandparents, Mike and Rosie Gruber. Their family is large with 40 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren and growing. This family continues to make the trek back to Belgrade to celebrate every holiday from Easter to birthdays.

“We got so close because we continue to see each other pretty much every month,” said Tiffany Breitbach. “When we were kids, we would go with Grandma and we’d hang out with her during the day. We’d spend that time watching soaps. Then we’d go to the pool, come back and watch sports and game shows with Grandpa.”

A childhood together and watching the “Family Feud” with their grandfather sparked an interest. It would be a dream come true to be a contestant on one of their favorite shows.

“I love game shows. It’s on Sam and I’s bucket list to be on a TV show. I mean, do you know anyone who’s been on a game show? And it’s like a free vacation even if we don’t win,” said Breitbach.

To be selected for “Family Feud,” the cousins had to take part in the long process of interviews and mock shows, but the cousins had fun doing it every step of the way.

They first attempted to be candidates of the show when they saw that there were tryouts in Chicago. They were denied the opportunity to audition at that time, but they had left their contact information. Breitbach was later contacted, and she and her cousins were invited to audition in Minneapolis.

“Once you are there, they give you a sheet of paper that listed the things that they were looking for and what we have to do to be on ‘Family Feud.’ They tell you to cheer and say, ‘Good answer,’ even if the answer is really silly. They rationalize that if your own family doesn’t cheer for you, the nation isn’t going to cheer you on either. You need to be very enthusiastic and you need to smile a lot. Don’t ever say the words ‘I don’t know’ and don’t ever say nothing.”

The women came up with fun ways of introducing themselves, telling a bit about their personalities and putting a big emphasis on the fact that they are part of a large family from a small town in Minnesota. Each family is allowed to have six people tryout, but only five can play. The sixth is an alternative option. Breitbach, who is currently pregnant with her second child, pointed to her stomach and said that her baby is their alternative.

They had fun with the mock game where they went up against another family. They lost that round, but they had the right stuff and were chosen out of hundreds of people to be candidates.

Breitbach is their team captain and has been working with her family and the game show to arrange their trip to Atlanta. They are scheduled to begin taping on May 28 and will be leaving for Atlanta this week.

“My cousins and I have decided that we want an extended vacation. We want to stay an extra day and enjoy Atlanta. We asked if we can fly to Atlanta early and they were very accommodating. We just have to pay for the hotel room the extra night.”

The cousins will be accompanied by other members of their family to Atlanta and will explore Atlanta’s culture.

“We want to rent a car and see the beach. There are a lot of cool festivals in Atlanta with their jazz arts and Caribbean carnivals. The Red Sox are playing against the Braves. We’d like to go to that game,” said Breitbach.

Baseball is as important to this extended family as game shows. If they win the “Family Feud,” the money will be shared among them all.

“Grandpa was big on sports and was a die-hard Minnesota Twins fan. If we have enough money to buy everyone in the family Twins tickets, we’ll go down and see a game next summer.”

There will be one final audition before the family is guaranteed a spot on the show. Outcomes of the game show are to be kept secret until after the show has aired, which should be sometime between September and December. Any winnings are withheld until after the show airs; this prevents anyone from knowing that they had won.

Even if the cousins do not win or do not make the final audition, they are excited for having the opportunity to spend time together in a way that their grandfather would have loved to see.