“Ellen’s Game of Games” winners Judy Good (left) and Patty Vattilana, holding one of her congratulatory cards.

Sisters bask in $75,000 prize, camaraderie in Calif. sun

Ken MammarellaCulture, Entertainment, Featured, Headlines, Scene About Town

The sisters in some of the T-shirts that they purchased as souvenirs.

The sisters in some of the T-shirts that they purchased as souvenirs.


Thanks to “Ellen’s Game of Games,” five local sisters had 10 days or so of fun together in California, and their children’s educations will benefit from the $75,000 that they won.

“We absolutely love her,” Judy Good said of host Ellen DeGeneres. They also love games.

“We went out with the attitude of having fun,” Patty Vattilana said. “And there was so much fun being together.”

The sisters (nee Conomon) are Joanne Mathewson, a Pennsylvania resident and Penn-Delco teacher; Becky Pettoruto, a Pennsylvania resident who with her husband Tony runs Insta Signs Plus in New Castle; Judy Good, a Pennsylvania resident and retired Avon Grove teacher; Jackie Szczerba, a Delaware resident and teacher at Marbrook Elementary near Prices Corner; and Patty Vattilana, a Delaware resident and teacher at Tower Hill School in Wilmington.

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Jackie had started a letter-writing campaign years ago to get tickets for Ellen DeGeneres’ popular talk show, and the 50th birthday in May of triplets Judy, Jackie and Patty led to another round of communication.

Considering pandemic restrictions, the 18th season talk show was a no-go, but how about playing in the fourth season of DeGeneres’ game show?

The Garland, a hotel in Studio City, was reserved for show contestants and staff, and so off they went. They kept to the hotel except for a walk to pay homage to the nearby house used for exterior shots in “The Brady Bunch.”

The sisters used Instacart to get refreshments and Amazon to order Aggravation, a board game to while away their poolside hours.

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Their California adventure was in August, but they were required to keep mum about what happened until the show aired this week.

That news blackout turned out to be a problem when Judy and Patty surprisingly got their winnings in November. The checks weren’t expected until 60 to 90 days after the airdate.

Judy kept her check in a drawer, and Patty did as well until she was worried that the check might become dated too far in the past to be cashed. The show gave her permission to tell her husband, Anthony, but he didn’t want to know what happened until he saw it on TV. So she secretly set up a separate bank account so that Anthony wouldn’t see the big deposit.

The appearance has turned the sisters into celebrities, as witnessed by a selfie request Judy got while shopping and the loud accolades Jackie got while eating at Goober’s Diner, the buzzy new restaurant in Trolley Square.

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“We’re still very excited,” Patty said a few days after the show aired.

Judy said one recurring question has been what’s really at the bottom of that 30-foot drop she experienced for the Know or Go game. DeGeneres had joked that what was at the bottom had only baby teeth.

The truth: a lot of foam cubes to cushion her fall and a guy who immediately asked if she was OK. More than OK. “I’d love to do it again,” she said.

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