The Daily Gamecock

This year's luckiest Gamecock

Coast Guard recruiter wins $50,000, Super Bowl tickets


“2010 was an amazing year for me,” Coast Guard recruiter, first-class petty officer and nontraditional first-year sports and entertainment management student Tim Manske said.
Having won $50,000, a trip to the Bahamas and Super Bowl tickets in the past year alone — that’s quite an understatement.


The 29-year-old Dallas native was working in Baltimore one Monday in September 2009 when his boss at the time, Chief David Malone, asked him if he’d like to take Friday off and come with him on a day trip.

Not one to turn down a good thing, Manske agreed, asking where they’d be going. Malone, who had worked in New York for years and had contacts in the New England area, replied that he’d received an email about an audition for the game show “Deal or No Deal,” and that they’d head up to New Jersey to check it out.

When they got there, they joined about 900 service members also auditioning for what would be a military-themed group of shows. They were put in groups of about 100, and then brought one-by-one on stage to be interviewed “by some Ryan Seacrest-looking dude.” When Manske was called, he went up and they started talking sports, his forte.

“They asked me where I was living,” Manske said. “I said, ‘Baltimore.’ Then they asked me what I thought of it, and I said, ‘I’m going to be straight up with you, dude — it sucks. The only football there is to watch on Sundays is the Ravens and the Redskins. I’m a big Cowboy fan.’ They loved it. I kind of got on a roll the more we kept talking.”

With his no-nonsense, honest-yet-humorous approach, Manske had the interviewers eating out of his hand. Two weeks later, 35 out of the original 900 had been picked for a callback. Manske, as well as Malone, who had won over interviewers with his outgoing approach singing “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, both received calls to come to Waterford, Conn., for the show’s filming on Sept. 10.

Sept. 10, however, was the Friday before the Dallas Cowboys’ 2010 Monday night season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Manske, an avid Cowboys fan, had tickets and plans to meet up with his family and several friends in Tampa for the game. He called his mother, who he’d promised to take on the show with him if he were chosen, to tell her they were going to have to miss the filming.

His mother told him in no uncertain terms that she would be accompanying him to the filming whether they missed the Cowboys game or not.

So Manske reluctantly made the trip with his mother and girlfriend to Waterford, Conn., sure that not only would he not be picked, but he’d be stuck in Connecticut for the whole weekend and miss seeing his beloved Cowboys. Sure enough, out of the 35 contestants, Manske was the first one picked.

“It was surreal,” he said excitedly, “especially since I had to be talked into even going.”

The game started with Manske knocking out a bunch of the low numbers, but he soon hit a cold spell, taking the $500,000; $250,000; and $75,000 cases out of the game all in a row. By the end, he was down to the $400 case and the $10,000 case, with the game’s banker offering him $5,000 not to take the 50-50 chance. Manske was ready to take the deal and walk with the $5,000, but his girlfriend and mother urged him to go for the $10,000.

“And I’m not going to go against my mom on national television,” he said, justifying his decision.

He went for it. “No deal.” He opened his case, No. 8, and won $10,000.

“I honestly thought Ashton Kutcher was going to pop out and say, ‘You’ve been Punk’d!’” Manske said about his reaction.

And since he was the first one picked, he was able leave the show and hop on a plane to Tampa in time to catch up with his family and watch the game. Contractually obligated not to reveal the outcome, he told them, “I did all right,” when they asked about the show.


The “Deal or No Deal” episode aired in February, and a month later, Manske was in Atlantic City, N.J., for a friend’s bachelor party.

He had brought $600 with him for the weekend, and by 2 a.m. the first night, he had lost all but $75 playing Texas Hold ’em and three-card Poker. Buzzed after several drinks and disappointed by his losses, he was ready for bed. The bachelor, his friend Greg Ashworth, wouldn’t have it. He pulled Manske to his table and told him to play this new game he’d just learned. Manske warned him he only had $75 left for the whole weekend, but reluctantly sat down as his friend bought rounds of Crown Royal and water.

“This game, Pai Gow, is a kind of Chinese poker,” he said. “It’s basically seven-card stud.”

A few minutes in, an increasingly tipsy Manske noticed that all his cards were black. Then he looked more closely and noticed they were all spades. Then he shuffled them around a little and noticed a pattern. He’d drawn a seven-card straight flush.

Pai Gow involves a $25 ante with a $5 bonus bet. Manske had hit the jackpot — the highest payout on the table. He showed his cards, and the Chinese men next to him went crazy.

“8,000!” they exclaimed. He excitedly thought he’d won $8,000. What they meant, however, was that he’d won 8,000 times his bet — $5 — or $40,000.

“We lived like rock stars for three days,” Manske said. “Money didn’t even matter at that point.”

He and his friends made such a good impression on the casino staff that they received complimentary suites, and he and Ashworth stayed until Monday. Two of the men had to be home Sunday for family obligations, and the casino sent them home from New Jersey to Baltimore in a stretch Hummer limousine.


In February 2011, Manske’s girlfriend won free Super Bowl tickets through a drawing at the real estate agency where she works, and this month, she won a trip to the Bahamas. Though the Cowboys weren’t in it, the Super Bowl trip landed Manske in his hometown of Dallas on his 29th birthday. He’s headed to the Bahamas next week.


Manske is stationed in Columbia for the next four years, on assignment as a Coast Guard recruiter. He’s also technically a freshman at USC, studying part-time to get his bachelor’s degree in sport and entertainment management.

“I talk to all kinds of folks, both people right out of high school and with bachelor’s degrees about a career in the Coast Guard, either enlisted or as an officer,” Manske said. “It’s a competitive process, especially with such high unemployment.”

His plush apartment in The Lofts at Village Square overlooks the Publix in the Vista. He’s toned and muscular, working out at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center six times a week. He drives a Mercedes-Benz. Manske’s life almost seems too good to be true.

“It’s not all glory, though. I’ve missed Christmases babysitting Cubans and Haitians, and I’ve had many a turkey sandwich for Thanksgiving dinner at sea.”

For now, though, he’s here to stay. That is, unless he wins another trip.