Since when does the word "contingency" find its way into a marriage proposal?
A prenuptial agreement or a business deal, maybe. But a down-on-one-knee proposal? But then, who in their right mind--outside of contestants on a reality show, of course--would plan to stage his proposal in cahoots with television news producers and broadcast it?
A businessman like Glenn Stearns would.
Glenn, of course, wasn't just any fiancé-to-be when he proposed to Forest Grove native Mindy Burbano, now 35. She's a former dental hygienist who, in 1996, made a name for herself thanks to a rooster call when she was in the audience of the Oprah Winfrey show. Since that first appearance, Mindy has worked as a morning radio DJ, an Entertainment Tonight reporter, a gym teacher in the film The Princess Diaries and, most recently, a Hollywood reporter for a Los Angeles television station.
Glenn, a 40-year-old Southern California real-estate tycoon, is a self-made multimillionaire who buys Jimmy Buffett concert tickets by the hundred and tends to win at the blackjack tables in Las Vegas.
In September 2002, he hit the jackpot when he met Mindy at the Palms Casino. Well, the couple didn't exactly meet that night; rather, Mindy was with girlfriends and happened to notice a handsome stranger wearing sunglasses while he gambled.
"He was one of those obnoxious gamblers," she recalls. "He wasn't gonna steal our thunder."
After catching Mindy's attention, Glenn joined her and her friends at their table. At the end of the night, the two said goodbye and good luck. Hardly any flirting. And no exchange of phone numbers, or even names.
Days later, Glenn was flipping TV channels back home in Newport Beach, Calif., when he caught another glimpse of Mindy on the evening news. He decided to send an email, despite feeling like a stalker. As Glenn recounts the story, he claims he wasn't in the habit of contacting virtual strangers, but there was something about Mindy that forced him into action.
Ever the good businessman, Glenn followed up his unreturned email message with a phone call and an offer of tickets to a Jimmy Buffett concert. That concert was followed by front-row tickets to see Paul McCartney a few weeks later. Over dinner before the concert, Glenn started talking. He talked about his late mother and his four children. By the end of the night, Mindy says, she knew she'd marry him some day.
The couple's relationship hit high speeds shortly thereafter. Mindy invited Glenn to her parents' house in Forest Grove that Thanksgiving. "He got unanimous approval," Mindy says of her family's reaction.
By the next spring, the couple was deeply in love, and they'd found their dream house. This was not some California beach shack but, rather, a $12 million mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Newport Beach. In a killing-two-birds-with-one-stone maneuver, Glenn decided to pop the question the same day he bought the house.
He enlisted the help of her bosses, who duped Mindy into believing she was on assignment reporting a story about palatial Southern California homes, one of which happened to be the house she and her boyfriend were buying. As she walked a camera crew through the place, she had no idea Glenn was waiting in the bedroom.
"Today is the day we are removing the contingencies on the house," he said. "So, I'd like to remove the contingencies of our relationship."
In other words: Will you marry me?
Mindy accepted the proposal, right in front of the cameras.
The couple followed up that made-for-TV moment with a wedding that cost, at Glenn's estimate, about $1 million. Never shy in front of a camera, Mindy and Glenn had their wedding filmed for Oprah.
This time, when Mindy appeared in front of Oprah's cameras, she wasn't cock-a-doodle-dooing like a rooster. This time, she brought her new husband with her.
And--in front of Oprah, at least--he certainly wasn't talking about contingencies.