Oklahoma City residents Charan Rose and Blake Overstreet had no idea what they were in for when they found out they were invited to be part of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" studio audience last week.
Rose and Overstreet, her son, were two of about 300 people in the audience for the premiere episode of the last season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which was taped in Chicago on Thursday but aired Monday. The audience knew Winfrey would likely do something big to commemorate the occasion, and there was fervor in the air that had the audience in hysterics before Winfrey made the big announcement.
"We're going to Australia!" Winfrey shouted over deafening cheers from the studio audience. "You and you and you and you, are going to Australia!"
Behind her, John Travolta clad in a pilot uniform emerged from a fake jet. Confetti rained on the uproarious audience, which waved tiny Australian flags while crying and hugging each other in disbelief.
"It was a very surreal moment," Rose said. "At first I thought, 'Well, that's Oprah.' Then I thought, 'Did she just say she was going to take us to Sydney, Australia, all expenses paid?'"
Winfrey said that not only would her entire audience receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Australia (paid for by Tourism Australia) in December, but Travolta would fly them there.
Still, Rose said she wants to forfeit her trip to someone else. In fact, it was her own story of giving to others that landed her in the audience.
'Dumpster diving' show inspired woman
A couple of months ago, Rose responded to television ads looking for Winfrey's 300 "Ultimate Viewers."
In order to qualify, viewers had to send in their stories of how an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" touched and changed their own lives. The episode that changed Rose's life was about how some people depend on "Dumpster diving" for their food and basic needs.
Shortly after seeing that episode, Rose and a friend were looking for materials to use to insulate her dog houses before a big snowstorm. Behind a local clothing store, she saw a little coat sleeve sticking out of a Dumpster.
"It was a perfect little child's coat," she recalls. "And Coats for Kids was going on. We looked in there, and there were a ton of coats in this Dumpster."
The coats were ripped, she said.