JEB Stuart Grad Wins $100K in Tongan Adventure

KristinaWhen Kristina Beall first began playing games on the Canadian Club website, she could not have imagined that she would soon be the $100,000 grand prize winner of an international scavenger hunt as part of the whisky producer’s decades-long promotion.



(Photo: Jasmin Shah, courtesy of Canadian Club)

When Kristina Beall first began playing games on the Canadian Club website, she could not have imagined that she would soon be the $100,000 grand prize winner of an international scavenger hunt as part of the whisky producer’s decades-long promotion.

Canadian Club, from 1967 to 1991, hid 25 cases of its whisky in remote locations across the globe – from the Great Barrier Reefs to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The company put clues to where to find the cases in its print advertisements and invited the public to embark upon a quest to find the cases and indulge in the 12-bottle reward. Sixteen cases had been found, but nine cases were still out in the world, undiscovered, so the company launched a new campaign through its website to entice thrill-seekers to look for the cases. They also sweetened the deal by offering a $100,000 grand prize.

Beall, a Falls Church native and graduate of J.E.B. Stuart High School, learned about the campaign through a Facebook advertisement and, admitting to her “nerd” tendencies, began playing the puzzles and trivia games the website offered, encouraging her husband, Erik, to do so as well. The duo racked up points in the games, earning enough that they could submit plea videos along with hundreds of other contestants for the chance to compete for the grand prize. From those videos, 30 were selected for public voting, and Kristina’s video made the cut.

It wasn’t until reviewing these videos that Kristina began to suspect that the contest might take her to Tonga, as the last question of the trivia contest asked players to identify the country based on its 176 islands.

“A lot of people put in their videos that they wanted to go to Tonga. Everyone had a hunch,” Beall said. Traveling to Tonga would be especially significant for Beall, as her father was formerly a Peace Corps director in the South Pacific country.

With the help of friends and family members voting daily along with others across the globe, Beall was selected as one of the eight contestants that would take the trip to Tonga, and she was quick to call her father with the good news, even though his State Department work meant she would be making a long distance call to Iraq.

“He was super excited,” Beall said. “He was jumping up and down and crying for excitement. I called him in Iraq and told him, and he was over the moon.”

With travel-hungry parents, and much international travel experience under her belt, Beall and her family greeted the thought of traveling across the globe for an adventure without trepidation.

“A lot of (families) would be really nervous, that I was going to this remote island by myself, but my family is really well traveled,” Beall said. “Mostly they were just excited for me.”

She also brushed off another cause for concern, the fact that she was the only female of the eight contestants chosen for the trip.

“I was never really upset or nervous about that,” Beall, a triathlon runner and self-described “active person,” said. “I just kind of felt like I had the weight of all feminists on my shoulders.”

From learning Tongan language and culture, to taking classes on GPS navigation, Beall did all that she could in the days leading up to her April 8 – 14 trip to prepare herself for the challenges ahead. She also geared herself with a pragmatic approach to the competition.

“From the beginning, I didn’t want to be overly confident, because I knew that there were going to be some really tough competitions. I didn’t want to get myself psyched up for disappointment.”

Beall was one of four contestants from the United States, who played against four contestants from Canada. In challenges that featured such feats as boat racing, bike riding, and even performing a balancing act by walking across a pathway atop New Zealand’s tallest building, the teams made their way to Tonga in competition. When the Canadian team was eliminated, the U.S. team members were pitted against one another on two teams. Beall’s team of two made it through competition, leaving only herself and Robert Gale, of Connecticut, to duke it out for the final prize in a scavenger hunt for the lost case of whisky.

Thanks to her GPS training, Beall was able to arrive at the volcanic lake where the case had been hidden 20 years ago. From there she donned diving equipment, inviting Gale to take part in the task, and began the search for the case in the sulfer-smelling water. After searching for half an hour, the duo could not find the case, but Beall was declared the winner for arriving to the lake first.

Beall has since returned to her everyday life in Alexandria and her work in international development, but the reality of the win hasn’t fully set in.

“It still seems like a dream that happened,” Beall said.

As for her winnings, Beall has less exotic plans – much of the money will be spent paying on loans for her University of Delaware undergraduate education, and her current master’s work in public health at George Washington University. But for winnings earned through such adventure, Beall admitted she would be remiss if she didn’t save a bit for travel with her husband.

“We have to go on a vacation, just to do something really fun with it,” Beall said.