WAYNESBURG — The cat is finally out of the bag about the outcome of Lincoln County Middle School drama teacher Lisa Johnson’s turn on a popular game show — and the cat is wearing a lei.
Two downstairs rooms of Johnson’s house were packed Friday night with friends and family anxious to finally see her compete on CMT’s “The Singing Bee.”
Johnson had said before she left for Los Angeles in late February to tape the show that her dream was to win the $10,000 top prize so she could take her husband of 25 years, Bobby, on a trip to Hawaii.
“I was raised to keep my promises,” she said Friday night, halfway through the show, when friends were still pressuring her to break her promise to not tell the outcome of the show until it had aired.
Even Bobby didn’t know, he said.
“I think we figured it out,” he said, nodding to a friend across the room who agreed.
The promos for her appearance started playing three weeks ago. One of Johnson’s friends Tivo’ed the spot and had slowed it down and they had watched it over and over.
Not only was she not nervous during the taping of the show, she was very nearly stealing the show from host Melissa Peterman who is best known for her role as Barbra Jean on the “Reba” TV show and quite the personality.
Johnson had been a bit concerned the producers might make a last-minute programming change and her episode would not air Friday night, but it aired as promised. She gave shout-outs to her town and her school and her students, even promoting their upcoming performances of “Beauty and the Beast.”
One by one, she calmly knocked out the competition by missing only a few words in the karaoke-meets-spelling-bee competition. The show mostly features contemporary country songs but also threw in an old Kenny Rogers tune and a song by Grand Funk Railroad in which she dropped a word.
The other five contestants were crushed by Johnson’s cool and her familiarity with the material.
The large crowd watching Friday night at Johnson’s house cheered and sang along with Johnson on screen. Her phone was nearly blowing up with text messages coming in nonstop saying that, no matter the outcome of the show, Johnson is a winner.
With only seven minutes left in the hour-long competition, tiny Lisa Johnson in her pink cowboy boots stood alone on the stage having bested the others. She had not yet actually won a dime; the final game would decide if she would leave with a big secret to keep for the next two months.
She calmly made eye contact with the camera and said, “I got this. I teach middle school.”
A few minutes later, confetti rained down both on screen and off.
Lisa Johnson had won $10,000.