Something's funny here Winners: A Davidsonville family won the top prize of $10,000 in an "America's Funniest Home Videos" episode that aired last night.

March 24, 1997|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

They were sworn to secrecy when the program was taped in California, but now the secret is out -- the Donohue family of Davidsonville was the big winner on the episode of "America's Funniest Home Videos" broadcast last night on the ABC television network.

The prize: $10,000, and a chance to compete with the top winners from eight other episodes for a grand prize of $100,000 -- to say nothing of another all-expense-paid trip to the West Coast for the family of five.

When Jeff and Rachele Donohue made their video in 1986, they were a family of four. The subject was the reaction of sons Jeff, then 5, and David, 3, to the news that their mother's new baby would be a girl.

The boys were not pleased, but that was then.

Sister Katie is 10 now, and by all accounts they get along just fine.

The now-famous video had been shown and amused family and friends before the idea came up recently to submit it for the program. A few weeks later, the Donohues were informed that the show's producers had selected it as one of the top three for a coming episode -- and that meant a free trip to Los Angeles this month to appear on the program and visits to Hollywood and Universal Studios.

"To be honest, we've taken all this stuff in stride," Mr. Donohue, who works for Washington Homes, said, "We had a great time in California. They treated us like royalty.

"My wife and I were as shocked as anybody that we won, although the boys thought we had it in the bag," he said with a laugh. "You know how boys are.

"Considering how much it costs to send a family of five to California, the trip alone made us feel like winners."

Receiving the winning check from host Bob Saget also entitles them to a return ticket to California in May for the finals.

"The producers told us that they only take the winners of the nine new shows," said Mr. Donohue, "so you have to figure we have a one-in-nine chance of winning."

While producers pick the top three for each episode, the studio audience votes for the favorite among them to receive the $10,000 prize.

At the grand finale in May, the votes will come from the studio audience in Los Angeles, along with audiences in two as-yet unnamed cities that will be linked through a satellite hookup.

"It was very hard to maintain that code of silence about winning before the show aired," Mr. Donohue said, noting that even relatives were kept in the dark.

Pub Date: 3/24/97

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