The United States' version of "Deal or No Deal" was based on the Netherlands game show that had premiered in 2002. The main objective of the game was identical: Select a case containing a mystery cash amount, then - after being asked to narrow the field of cases by a certain number at various intervals - decide whether to take a cash buyout offered by an unseen "banker" ("Deal") or reject the offer and continue eliminating cases ("No Deal"), knowing he/she could win the grand prize of $1 million... or far less. Each new game begins with 26 cases, each randomly distributed and held by a sexy model.
The contestant chooses one case, which is placed at his/her contestant's podium. The cash amount inside could be as little as 1 cent ($. 01) or as much as $1 million. The player then is asked to eliminate six of the remaining cases, calling out the corresponding numbers one at a time. After each number is called, that case is opened, revealing one of the 26 cash prizes; that prize is then eliminated from play. After the six cases are opened, host Mandell receives a call from The Banker, who makes an offer to buy back the player's case. The offer is based on the cash amounts still in play; although this initial offer is fairly small, it is usually higher if more of the small amounts - usually, those under $10,000 - were taken out of play.
If the player chooses to accept the offer ("Deal"), he/she presses a button at his/her podium to confirm the decision. At that point, his/her game ends, the amount inside the case, and the cases remaining in play are revealed. However, should the contestant refuse The Banker's offer ("No Deal," which always happened at least on the early deals), he/she is then directed to eliminate five cases from play, after which another deal is offered, which - depending on what prizes are eliminated during this round - may be higher or lower than the previous offer. Subsequent rounds have the contestant eliminating four, three and two cases from the remaining field, with Banker deals after each elimination round; thereafter, the contestant withdraws one case each time. During these latter rounds, the contestant often received advice from a group of supporters (his/her family, friends and others) on whether to accept or decline the offer. This process continues until two cases remain - the player's and the one yet to be eliminated - and one final deal is made. Should the contestant refuse the final offer, one of two things may happen.
If the game's outcome is rather anti-climatic (i. e. , only very small amounts remain), the contestant's case is opened and he/she wins the cash amount inside. However, if at least one of the large amounts remains in play, he/she is offered a chance to swap cases and then given another final deal; after the player's decision, the player's case is opened and he/she wins accordingly. "Deal or No Deal" premiered on NBC in December 2005 with a week's worth of shows to promising ratings; a second set of five episodes in Februrary and March 2006 did just as well, earning a twice-weekly spot on the NBC prime-time schedule. During each game, home viewers are invited to play a "Lucky Case" game, in which they enter - via their cellular telephone keypad - which of six cases they believe contains the $10,000 grand prize. Those who select the right case are entered into a random drawing, with four winners selected (one from each time zone) to win the $10,000 prize.