KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Local entrepreneurs got their chance for a shot at the big time as representatives for ABC’s Shark Tank rolled into Knoxville Thursday.
The line was out the door, the ideas were in hand and people were excited. Normally, Shark Tank does their casting in cities like Chicago or Los Angeles, but this time they were looking for creative minds right here in Knoxville.
Rural/Metro Firefighter Mike Robinson was the third person in line. He camped out overnight. He invented a tool that would lower the body temperature for firefighters coming out of a burning home and could possibly save lives.
“As firefighters, we wear heavy protective gear and this gear literally cooks us. And our body temps are 103 and above when we exit a hazardous environment,” said Robinson. “I developed a misting tool that attaches to a fire truck and it turns the fire truck into a cooling station.”
Jamie and Beth Anna Spafford are from Alcoa. They love to tailgate and have created a fun way to do just that.
“When we were watching a fan try to set up a pop up, It took him forever and once he got set up, campus police had to make him take it down because he couldn’t keep it in his parking space, so this is the solution for that,” they said.
ABC Supervising Casting Producer Scott Salyers says there was a lot of talent from people in the Knoxville area.
“What we’re looking for today are people with that passion with that energy, that are like you have to invest in this because this is how great my business is,” said Salyer.
Tom Kifer and Linda Losey traveled all the way from Charles Town, West Virginia just to audition.
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“It was scary. You’ve been preparing for a couple weeks, then you finally go in there and have it down to a minute,” said Tom Kifer and Linda Losey. “We grow lemons, raspberries, black walnuts and pumpkin,s and everything we do is farm fresh all natural. Then we put it with 190 proof moon shine, pure cane sugar, water, fruit and its delicious.”
Gina Yelencich says she has been preparing for this moment for years.
“It was a little nerve-racking, but the speech that was given before we went in really helped to calm my nerves,” said Yelencich. “The gentleman that I spoke with was very good to go back and forth with. We had a good banter. He asked questions. I was able to give answers.”
Yelencich invented “Dugout Pal” for softball and baseball players.
Slideshow: ‘Shark Tank’ comes to Knoxville
“It helps the parents to know their investment in the equipment is safe because its not on the floor and it helps the coaches to know the children are always going to be ready to get out on the field when they need them.”
“It went great it was a wonderful interview. I think the sharks really enjoyed what we had to say and they liked our product,” said Mike Robinson.
ABC producers say they saw more than 200 people. If you auditioned and the casting directors are interested your idea, you should hear something as soon as two weeks from now.
If you didn’t get a chance to audition today you can always audition online.