As a kid, she 'messed with bugs' on FM Beach. Now she's surviving 'Deal or No Deal Island'

Miranda Harrison has already appeared in two episodes of "Deal or No Deal Island." But TV viewers really don't know much about her.

They know she kills bugs and rodents for a living. And they know she's from Fort Myers.

That's about it.

And that's by design, she says.

Harrison, 30, says it's all part of her strategy for the reality show that's part "Survivor" and part classic game show "Deal or No Deal."

"I'm, like, laying low," she says and laughs. "I wanted everybody to kind of go at each other's throats while I stood back and watched. ...

"And that was probably the smartest thing to do. Because people were painting targets on people's backs. … So it's better to be quiet."

"Deal or No Deal Island" host Joe Manganiello and Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers on episode 103 of the show ("Are You Fearless?")
"Deal or No Deal Island" host Joe Manganiello and Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers on episode 103 of the show ("Are You Fearless?")

That should change in the coming weeks, though. And Harrison expects you'll see her start appearing more on the show.

"You will see me start to really double down and really see who I'm gonna trust," she says. "There might be some drama coming with it, too.

"Just because I'm quiet now doesn't mean I'll be quiet in the future (laughs)."

Harrison and the rest of the "Deal or No Deal Island" cast return Monday, March 11, for the show's third episode. Here's everything else you need to know about Harrison:

Her wild and adventurous childhood on Fort Myers Beach

Harrison was born in Seattle and moved to Fort Myers Beach when she was about 7 years old. Her dad worked at Boeing, and her mom had her own wedding business. Her parents live in California now.

"It was the best childhood ever," Harrison says about Fort Myers Beach. "I grew up there with my twin brother and my older brother and then all of my older brother and twin brothers' friends. So I was always out in the mangroves."

It was good preparation for a survival reality show like "Deal or No Deal Island," she says.

"We'd be out there for hours and we would be messin' with bugs," she says. "In order for me to hang out with them sometimes,  you know, they would have to entertain themselves by making me eat a bug or catching a snake. Something dangerous."

Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers competes on the new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island."
Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers competes on the new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island."

Harrison calls herself "a former tomboy" who later competed in beauty pageants. She even won Miss Fort Myers Beach and Miss Florida.

She loves bugs and being outdoors

Harrison lived on Fort Myers Beach until Hurricane Ian damaged her home. Now she lives in Fort Myers.

But her job as a Terminix exterminator takes her all over Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island.

She loves getting to know her regular customers, she says. And she's fascinated by insects.

"I actually like the study of bugs," she says. "I love insects and how they work."

Cast members on "Deal or No Deal Island" in episode 103 (pictured left to right): Jordan Fowler, Miranda Harrison, Stephanie Mitchell, Aron Barbell and Alyssa Klinzing.
Cast members on "Deal or No Deal Island" in episode 103 (pictured left to right): Jordan Fowler, Miranda Harrison, Stephanie Mitchell, Aron Barbell and Alyssa Klinzing.

She also loves being outdoors, including fishing, wakeboarding, hiking and playing with her dog, a 1-year-old Bernedoodle.

"Her name is Peaches," Harrison says. "And she's a barker."

How Harrison got from Fort Myers to 'Deal or No Deal Island'

Harrison says she has a lot of self-confidence. And that led to her decision to try out for a reality-TV show ― especially a survival show where contestants battle insects and the elements.

"I'm literally chasing after rodents and snakes every day ― and roaches," she says about her job as an exterminator. "So one day, after watching the show 'Outlast' on Netflix, I'm like, 'Man, I really gotta put myself out there.' …

"I'm like, 'Man, I literally don’t mind going out and surviving. The only thing that's gonna stop me is DEATH, and I'm not afraid of that."

Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers in episode one of the new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island."
Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers in episode one of the new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island."

So one day after work in April 2023 ― still in her Terminix uniform ― she recorded a one-minute video and submitted an application for an upcoming reality show. All she knew was that it involved a jungle island and a treasure hunt. She didn't even know the name of the show.

But soon she got a text message from the show's producers. And that led to a few Zoom calls before she was cast on "Deal or No Deal Island."

How Harrison prepared for 'Deal or No Deal Island'

Harrison had two or three months to prepare for her time on 'Deal of No Deal Island.' To get ready, she drank lots of water and tried to eat healthy food.

And she did a ton of cardio.

"I went to the gym a lot," she says. "I hired a personal trainer who kinda kicked my butt.

"I'm good with weights and everything. But cardio? I don't run unless a zombie's chasing me or, you know, I'm after a football or something."

She's glad she did the cardio, though.

"There was a LOT of running in the show," she says. "So it really helped me."

Filming 'Deal or No Deal Island'

The TV show was filmed in September 2023 on an undisclosed Panama island. The show's producers have dubbed it "Banker's Island."

Harrison isn't allowed to say how she did on the show. But she will say this: She had a blast.

"It was so exciting," she says. "It is what I needed. I'd just turned 30 years old, and to me it was the most exciting thing of my life."

Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers (front) wades through mud with other players to snag briefcases full of money in the first episode of new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island."
Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers (front) wades through mud with other players to snag briefcases full of money in the first episode of new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island."

Some of the other players had a tough time on the survival show, but not Harrison.

"I had to be on the ground with monkeys and roaches and rodents and all that other stuff, but I was so used to it," she says. "To me, I was on a little mini vacation.

"And I also got to do all these challenges and really challenge myself. … I was so happy to be able to have that chance to push myself."

The show hasn't spent much time on her yet. The producers have been mostly focused on other characters, including "Boston Rob" ("Survivor" series regular and eventual "Survivor: Redemption Island" winner Rob Mariano). But Harrison says she's had some great moments already.

In episode two, for example, she was able to climb a tree and snag eight arrows. Her partner needed them to shoot targets attached to metal cases full of money.

"It doesn't show it, but I actually got a personal offer and won $20,000," she says. "Because I climbed up the tree and I got all of the arrows. My partner only needed three arrows, but I managed to get her eight."

More thoughts on 'Deal or No Deal Island'

Harrison says there wasn't a single thing she didn't love about the show.

"Everything that happened was just the most wonderful experience I've ever been in," she says. "And I'm actually deeply sad, because I would do season two all over again."

Contestants on the new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island." Pictured (left to right) are Rob Mariano, Nicholas Grasso, Alyssa Klinzing, Stephanie Mitchell, Brantzen Wong, Jamil Sipes, Miranda Harrison, Amy McCoy, Jordan Fowler, Aron Barbell, Kim Mattina, Dawson Addis and Claudia Jordan.
Contestants on the new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island." Pictured (left to right) are Rob Mariano, Nicholas Grasso, Alyssa Klinzing, Stephanie Mitchell, Brantzen Wong, Jamil Sipes, Miranda Harrison, Amy McCoy, Jordan Fowler, Aron Barbell, Kim Mattina, Dawson Addis and Claudia Jordan.

Harrison loved the show's democratic nature. Everyone had different skills and different life experiences. And everyone had a good chance to win the show and go home with millions of dollars.

"It was just all about luck," she says. "You didn't have to be a pro athlete. You didn't have to be a runner, a track star.

"Anybody who got on the show had a chance to win over $200 million. … And I also made life-long friends at the same time."

If she wins the money, she plans to take her parents on a few vacations: Italy for Mom, the Super Bowl for Dad.

She also wants to donate money to Fort Myers Beach Elementary School. The school reopened in December after being damaged by Hurricane Ian. She and her brothers both attended there, she says.

More about 'Deal or No Deal Island'

'Deal or No Deal Island' premiered Feb. 26 and airs at 10 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC. The TV series also streams the next day on Peacock.

In the show, 13 players have been competing in various challenges on the mysterious Banker's private island. At stake: A final briefcase full of millions of dollars.

"We're talking life-changing money here," host Joe Manganiello told the players on the debut episode. "Because over the course of this game, there will be more than $200 million up for grabs."

Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers is competing on the new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island."
Miranda Harrison of Fort Myers is competing on the new NBC reality TV show "Deal or No Deal Island."

"Deal or No Deal Island" is based on the classic TV game show “Deal or No Deal.” The Banker makes the rules and has the players compete to win briefcases full of cash scattered throughout the jungle.

Then, each night, the players "battle the Banker" in a version of the game show "Deal or No Deal." The winnings from each game are added to a group pot that will grow throughout the season.

At the end of the season, the last player standing faces the Banker to potentially win what the show calls "the biggest prize in 'Deal or No Deal' history."

The show's other remaining contestants are:

  • Dawson Addis, 25, of Muskego, Wiconsin

  • Aron Barbell, 26, of Champaign, Illinois

  • Jordan Fowler Bull, 29, of Nashville, Tennessee

  • Nick Grasso, 29, of Brooklyn, New York

  • Claudia Jordan, 50, of Dallas, Texas

  • Alyssa Klinzing, 26, of Kansas City, Missouri

  • “Boston” Rob Mariano, 47, of Perdido Keys, Florida

  • Kim Mattina, 63, of Anthem, Arizona

  • Amy McCoy, 42. of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • Dr. Stephanie Mitchell, 41 of Gainesville, Alabama

The show is hosted by actor Manganiello ( "Spider-Man," "True Blood") and executive produced by Howie Mandel.

For more information on "Deal Or No Deal Island," visit nbc.com/deal-or-no-deal-island.

Charles Runnells is an arts and entertainment reporter for The News-Press and the Naples Daily News. To reach him, call 239-335-0368 (for tickets to shows, call the venue) or email him at crunnells@gannett.com. Follow or message him on social media: Facebook (facebook.com/charles.runnells.7), X (formerly Twitter) (@charlesrunnells), Threads (@crunnells1) and Instagram (@crunnells1).

This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: 'Deal or No Deal Island': Interview with Fort Myers' Miranda Harrison