Wilton Woman Has a Buckin’ Good Time on Ellen Degeneres’ Game Show

photo: NBC

“J.D.I.” may represent the first initials of her three children’s names but it’s also, coincidentally, an abbreviation for “just do it,” Lynn DiNanno’s family motto. The Wilton resident stayed true to that adage during a recent opportunity to showcase her adventurous and competitive spirit–and sense of humor–in an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres prime-time game show, “Ellen’s Game of Games”.

DiNanno appeared in Season 4, Episode 14, which aired last Sunday, March 14, at 9 p.m. on NBC.

DeGeneres opened the show by saying, “Welcome to my Game of Games where we literally jump through hoops to entertain you!”

Contestants compete in various physical stunts, word games, and trivia, all for comedic effect, for a chance to make it to a final round, with prize winnings up to $100,000.

DiNanno competed in a segment called “Buckin’ Blasters,” a contest in which she and an opponent rode mechanical bull-style cannons while trying to shoot cannonballs at three targets. DeGeneres and her co-host, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, controlled the bucking movement of the cannons as the contestants tried to fire the cannon shots.

DiNanno outperformed her competitor by avoiding a fall from the cannon, but unfortunately, she had fewer hits with her cannon shots and was eliminated after that round.

The entire episode can be seen on NBC’s website. NBC also shared the Buckin’ Blasters segment on Instagram:

DiNanno applied to be a contestant on “Game of Games” back in 2019, after enjoying the show with a family member. “I thought, it looks really fun,” said DiNanno. “It’s just right up my alley in terms of the fact that it’s so random and silly.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, DiNanno assumed nothing would happen with her application, but was surprised when she got a call from casting. Only after being satisfied with the safety protocols that would be in place (which included 3 COVID tests leading up to the day of filming, her own trailer on the set, and other precautions) did DiNanno agree to make the trip to Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

DiNanno praised the many people she observed working hard to make the show happen during the challenges of the pandemic, including DeGeneres herself.

“It was a great experience,” said DiNanno. “It brought a lot of laughter to people that needed it [during the pandemic]. I was so impressed and honored to be a part of it because of the effort that went into it. And I never felt like I was doing something that wasn’t safe.”

DiNanno is known by many in town from her stint as an instructor at JoyRide, the chain of spin studios that for a time was located in Wilton Center. She is also an accomplished athlete, no stranger to competition.

But DiNanno says Game of Games had less to do with competition and everything to do with laughter. “The laughter that it brought my kids and to a lot of people, that’s a win to me. It’s not about winning all the time, but finding the win. Of course, I didn’t go out there to lose, but I did it to get outside my comfort zone. This show is simple fun.”

(photo: NBC) Lynn DiNanno on “Ellen’s Game of Games”

Thought six feet apart, DiNanno and DeGeneres had a brief introduction before the show. DiNanno described DeGeneres as “the real deal” and said she was “down-to-earth, smiling, charming, and witty” in their encounter.

DiNanno hopes seeing the show makes people happy and maybe even inspires someone to try something new. “It’s always worth a shot,” she said.