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Strong set for her 'Minute' of national fame


FLOWERY BRANCH, GA —Think you've got what it takes to move a cookie from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands in under a minute?

How about keeping two feathers up in the air at the same time?

Natalie Strong enthusiastically did. During a normal Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders practice, coach Chato Waters told the team she had been contacted by NBC, asking if a couple of cheerleaders would come to an open casting call in Atlanta for the hit game show "Minute To Win It."

"Already being a huge fan of the show, my hand couldn't have shot into the air fast enough," Strong said. "I went with a few of my fellow cheerleaders downtown after a long Saturday practice to interview with the producers, and the rest is history."

Strong was chosen to be a contestant on the show, which is hosted by Guy Fieri of Food Network fame. The episode featuring Strong's talent for unusual games using household items will air at 8 p.m. ET today.

When Strong was selected to be a contestant, she began a rigorous process of practicing. On the show, contestants are required to complete each of 10 games of varying difficulty in under a minute. As the difficulty of the game goes up, so does the opportunity to win big money — the highest prize being $1 million.

With more than 100 games that could potentially be put in front of Strong, she set about to make sure she knew as much about each as she could before her appearance.

"I found that I was best at games that had to deal with food products, ping pong bouncing and cardio stamina," Strong said. "I am not, however, good at games that deal with stacking and balancing. Being a nervous Nelly and worrier by nature, my whole body seems to shake and tremble."

Strong's practice routine included leaving Atlanta and spending two weeks in Los Angeles for a sort of training camp of her own. The experience was exhausting.

"You literally bounce ping pongs and balance bottles on your head from noon to night," she said. "Your emotions run the gamut from excited, frustrated, a little slap-happy, but always determined."

Being such a big fan of the show, it was a bit of a dream for Strong to get chosen to appear and compete.

She's having a big viewing party tonight, and guests will include fellow cheerleaders and friends. Her whole family is having a gathering in Memphis to watch, as well.

Strong played so that part of her winnings would go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of her mother's winning battle over cancer.

Even watching other people play the games on TV, she has a tendency to get a little excitable. It's a sure bet that she'll be just as intense watching her own performance.

"I love getting into the show at home, and I have a very, very patient fiance who lets me act out the games and jump up and down on his couches, cheering for the contestants," Strong said. "It's so hard to believe that now I am one."

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