Oprah's Big Give: April 2008 Archives

There were no losers Sunday on the final episode of ABC's "Oprah's Big Give." In a surprise ending even viewers didn't expect, everyone went home a winner.

Stephen Paletta, a 42-year-old contractor, took home the top prize of $1 million, keeping $500,000 and receiving another $500,000 to keep giving back to the community.

"I'm in shock," Paletta said. "It was such an incredible honor and privilege to be part of this show and to be chosen as the biggest giver with all these wonderful people."

Today's episode of the Oprah show -- at 9 a.m. and 11:05 p.m. on ABC in Chicago -- will have a complete wrap-up of the "Big Give" challenge.

Paletta and two other finalists helped raise more than $160,000 for the Chicago Hope Academy, a college prep school on the Near West Side. Chicago's Blue Man Group donated $100,000 of the money raised.

All seven of the show's eliminated contestants -- including Chicagoan Marlene Snipes -- returned for the final episode and took home $30,000 each.

After eight weeks of intense strategy and competition, one person is going to go home with $1 million -- $500,00 to give back, and $500,000 to take home -- and they didn't even know it.

But that's not all, the two running up contestants will get $100,000 to do with what they want.

In a quick ending to a the two-month series, episode front-runner Stephen just took home the top prize and was joined onstage by his family.

In her final thoughts, Oprah challenged everyone to try and give big in their own way and to continue following a cause dear to her heart.

Want to hear more from tonight's winners? They'll appear on tomorrow's episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, but in case you miss it, check here for a complete "Big Give" wrap up tomorrow.

They took on the challege of giving big, and getting nothing back. Now, the three remaining contestants are about to get a BIG surprise: the winner of the competition wins $1 million.

All of the seven eliminated candidates candidates from the show have returned to the stage for the final show, and for a big surprise.

Oprah friend and ever-so-poised Jennifer Aniston reveals to contestants the surprise ending to their eight-week journey ... they're all getting $30,000 for being on the show.

"It's such an amazing, fantastic thing," Aniston said. "Especially at a time right now where we could use something like this."

Oprah: In my mind, you all won weeks ago

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With mjust minutes before the winner of the "Big Give" is announced, Oprah and the judges drop in for the final critique of the contestants.

What have they learned?

Stephen thinks it isn't just about big giving, it's about big hearts. While Cameron says life gives to givers, and takes from the takers.

Up next: Jennifer Aniston with a "Big Give" surprise.

The big -- and little -- reveals

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It's time for the big reveal, but where are Brandi and Cameron?

The show's begun without the duo, who left Stephen to try and raise money for another cause.

As the show judges watch on, Blue Man Group donates $50,000 to the school and another $50,000 to the school's music and arts program.

Not really the most exciting revel we've seen this season, but the team (mainly Stephen) raised a significant amont of money in just two days.

With the Chicago Hope challenge behind them, the team banded together again to help the kids at Shriner's.

The executive chef of Rosebud not only showed up for a free cooking class for the kids, but agreed to keep doing it.

In the judges eyes, it's a gift that keeps on giving.

But who's the front runner? Stephen seems like the only one not bitter about the final challenge, other than that the disjunciton among the group inhibited doing more.

With only 24 hours left, what would you do?

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So far, Cameron's raised the money and performance from Blue Man Group. Stephen's raised a free lunch from Potbelly for students. But what about Brandi?

"The guys ideas suck," Brandi says, deviating away from the group and deciding to take on her own challenge.

Next thing you know, Cameon joins her (but for good?), leaving Stephen, who carries on and raises another $60,000 for the school.

Brandi's idea: To raise money for Shriner's Children's Hospital in Chicago -- providing free medical treatment for kids.

But look out, giver-turned-Diva Brandi has secured the top chef of Rosebud in Chicago to perform a cooking class for the kids at Shriner's.

Taping of the show moves to Blue Man's Briar Street Theater (which ironically I used to live next door to up until two months ago. How would that have been for a bird's eye view?)

Claws come our during final challenge

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With two and a half days left, no budget and no direction, the three candidates set out to make a difference.

The trio's last challenge will force them to work as a team, but to be judged individually.

At first, the team rallies behind Stephen's idea to raise money for the Chicago Hope Academy, but then Cameron and Brandi draw back from the idea.

Blue Man Group have agreed to a private performance for the kids of the Chicago Hope Academy -- as well as donating $100,000 to the cause of raising a new athletic field for the school

Brandi and Cameron have clearly formed an alliance in the last episode of the "Big Give." Who knew giving could be so cut throat?

Judges for Oprah's "Big Give" stunned the audience, contestants and even Oprah herself last

week, not eliminating a contestant and sending three people into the final round of


This week, Cameron, Brandi and Stephen face their biggest challenge ever: with no money,

they'll have to come up with a to give big. And what they don't know is the biggest giver

will become the biggest winner, winning a $1 million cash prize from Oprah herself.

The catch, none of the contestants knew about the $1 million prize when they signed up, and they won't find out until the end of tonight's episode.

The three remaining contestants joined Oprah in Chicago's Union Station in the opening segment of the show.


And then there were three. Cameron, Brandy or Stephen will be one of the lucky three who'll go home tonight with an unexpected $1 million prize on the finale of ABC's "Oprah's Big Give." Who's it going to be? Jennifer Aniston, Blue Man Group and other surprise guest make appearances on the final show of Oprah's primetime show. Blog with us starting at 7 p.m. as the countown to finding out who the biggest giver begins.


Click here to watch Sunday's episode

obg.jpg After seven weeks on the road, the remaining three contestants on Oprah's Big Give zipped to our town -- Chicago -- for their next challenge.

Shooting the opening scenes in the city's beautiful Grant Park, Oprah unveiled Cameron, Stephen and Brandi's newest challenge: they'd have to go home and give big.

For the first time in months, the remaining three would be reunited with their families -- and to make a difference in their community.

Three contestants. Four days. Each with $10,000.

TRAV.jpg In the end, the contest would end with a big twist -- not as big as the final $1 million giveaway from Oprah will cause -- but enough to make you tune in to see what happens next week.

Unable to make a decision as to who was the biggest giver, the show's judges didn't' send anyone home (Oprah pal John Travolta delivered the new after making a cameo appearance on the show) -- and all three contestants moved on to the final round.

Here's how it all played out:

Just minutes into the opening scenes, the trio was whisked off in an over-the-top departure in a helicopter flown by Nate Berkus (maybe he wasn't the one who actually was flying the copter, but is there anything dear Nate doesn't do?).

So how'd their homecomings and Big Gives go?

She hit the ground running when she got back to her hometown of Sierra Vista -- focusing not on just one family, but trying to spread the money she was given among several families, including one with five autistic children. Her big give in the end was to a young girl named Aly Nelson, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

"The worst part of being sick is having to lie in bed, you can't go anywhere," the young girl said.

Being a former Miss Sierra Vista herself -- Brandi arranged for Aly to get the royal treatment for a day, parade and all.

The tissue factor: 3 out of 10. A great wish granted which brought a smile to a girl who definitely deserved it, but not the best give of the night.

He says he strugged going home -- finding it hard to balance being with his family and dedicating time to giving big. With the help of his wife and other members of his community, he not only raised a year's worth of groceries for a women's shelter, but $43,000 in total. (Wow.)

The tissue factor: 6 out of 10. Stephen raised a lot of money for the shelter, but in the end dedicated a bouquet of flowers to his wife, calling her the biggest giver in her eyes. (Definitely an "aww" moment on the show.)

Cameron was the biggest winner Sunday night, whose big give was reminiscent of a Ty Pennington "Extreme Home Makeover" moment. (I cried, I'll admit it).

He didn't raise the most money, but I thought his give was the best, having a significant impact on the life of Skylar Corvin.

Suffering from a playground injury, Skylar and her family found out she was suffering from bone cancer.

With hundreds of people gathered, Cameron presented Skylar with a new laptop -- and a newly designed Web site -- so she could have a diary to chronicle her life. The upbeat Skylar also saw her room -- and her family's living room -- decked out in brand new furniture.

That wasn't all.

The family was also given a brand new 2007 Ford Fusion (with a little help from Cameron's dad) and the whole check for $10,000 he was originally given).


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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oprah's Big Give category from April 2008.

Oprah's Big Give: March 2008 is the previous archive.

Oprah's Big Give: May 2008 is the next archive.

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