MAXTON — Despite the show’s name, a local family’s experience on the hit game show “Family Feud” has brought them closer together than ever.
The Hines family, whose roots are in Maxton, competed in May on the nationally televised show. “Family Feud” is an American television game show during which two families compete to name the most popular responses to survey questions in order to win cash and prizes.
“We were able to represent Maxton,” Nina Hines said. “It doesn’t matter how much money we won or didn’t win. The experience was worth more than money.”
Hines’ younger brother, Johnnie Hines Jr.; his daughters, Shanece and Sharae Hines; and Nina and Johnnie’s aunt, Sarah Williams, made up the five-member team. Williams was the alternate family member and took the place of Nina and Johnnie’s, older brother, Kenyotta, who died in September before the family was able to compete.
Johnnie, Nina and Kenyotta’s father, Johnnie Hinesm was one of the first black sheriff’s deputies in the county, Nina said. She and her siblings grew up in Maxton and attended Maxton High School for a year before it merged into West Robeson High School, which is now Purnell Swett.
“Maxton will always be home,” Nina said.
The younger Johnnie is a retired soldier from the U.S. Army and lives in Maryland. One of his daughters, Shanece, works at a call center in Fayetteville. His daughter Sharae is a textile designer for Belk and lives in Charlotte. Nina Hines works at Duke Research Clinical Institute, and Sarah Williams is a Human Resources specialist for Duke University Medical Center. They both live in Durham.
“Everybody was on board because for years we actually talked about participating and applying to participate,” Nina said. “We had the games at home and would play as a family.”
It was Nina who first saw the ad on Facebook to apply for the show. The advertisement asked potential participants to submit a short paragraph and video describing the family.
“I sent that in, a short paragraph about my crazy family,” Nina said.
Nina described each member of the family. Nina and Johnnie’s older brother, Kenyotta Hines, was included in the initial entry but he passed away before making it to the show.
“He was the most enthusiastic of us all,” Nina said.
In the paragraph, she described herself as being the “intellectual one,” her younger brother as being the “goofball” and her nieces as being the “fashionista” and “business-minded one.” After applying, the family traveled to Charlotte, where a statewide audition was being held in November 2017. As many as 800 families from across the state were there to audition, Nina said.
“It was a huge audition,” she said.
The family was called to meet with the show’s executive producer and were told they would receive a card in the mail. Around February 2018, they received a list of taping dates to choose from but did not hear back from producers for the entire year, Nina said.
“In the beginning of February this year, I get a call out of the blue,” she said. “It was a total surprise, we just really thought we missed the cut.”
After being invited, the family was flown to Los Angeles for an all-expense-paid trip. Eight other family members came to support the team in the audience.
“They treated us like royalty.” Nina said. “It was just a great experience.”
“They made you feel at ease,” Johnnie said. “They made you feel like you were going to talk to your uncle.”
The family did not able to meet the host, famous comedian Steve Harvey, until the competition started.
“There’s no meeting prior to that time,” Nina said. “He wants everything to be authentic and genuine. Mr. Harvey was just so down-to-earth and humble.”
Williams was one of the strongest players on the team, but it was Johnnie Hines who stood out on the show and connected immediately with the host. The show has created a national promotion featuring Johnnie answering the survey question, “Name something that you know exists but you cannot see?” Hines answered, “Bigfoot.”
Another highlight featured on the game show’s YouTube channel is Johnnie’s answer to the question: “Name a sexy fabric that makes a good stripper name.”
“She might be from the hood Steve, so I’m gonna say Polly Esther,” he said.
“This my dude here. I told y’all, before he said it, I said “Y’all fixin’ to learn something,” Harvey said after Johnnie gave the answer.
The show only lasts 30 minutes but it took two hours to film.
“Every answer that my brother had, had Steve laughing on the floor,” Nina said.
Johnnie said he’s always been a fan of Harvey and was pleased they connected so well.
“He said during the show that I was his alter ego,” Johnnie said about Harvey.
Harvey even recognized the town of Maxton when the family told where they were from.
“He actually knew where Maxton was, right off (U.S.) 74,” Johnnie said. “He said in his earlier days as a comedian, he would have to drive everywhere and he actually rode through Maxton,”
The family was only able to bring in $540 on the first day. Johnnie and Nina played “Fast Money” but only accumulated 108 points, falling short of the 200 points needed to win $20,000. They still were able to compete again, but lost in the second competition. The winnings will be split between the five and sent in separate checks to each family member who competed.
“We don’t know what were going to do with it yet,” Nina said. “We still haven’t gotten the check yet.”
Nina said it was bittersweet not being able to experience the show with their late brother, but they all had the opportunity to honor him by wearing pins with his photo on both episodes.
“Mr. Harvey asked me about the pins and allowed me to talk about my brother nationally,” Nina said.
“We really appreciated that,” Johnnie said.
Members of a family from Maxton, Nina, Johnnie, Shanece, and Sherae Hines, and Sara Williams, competed on the hit TV game show “Family Feud,” which was filmed recently in Los Angeles. The family competed twice on the show and accumulated $540.
Shown is the Hines family with “Family Feud” host Steve Harvey. Scenes featuring Johnnie Hines have been featured on the show’s YouTube Channel and during a promotional video.