‘Jersey Shore’ Sweepstakes Winner Has ‘Surreal’ Experience in Seaside

Deena Cortese and sweepstakes winner Jessica Mercado (Photo: Nicole Murphy)

For 20 years, MTV has famously told the true stories of several strangers “picked to live in a house.”

In late August, MTV and XFINITY teamed up for the true story of several friends picked to live in the world’s most famous beach house courtesy of the “‘Jersey Shore’ Summer Getaway Sweepstakes.”

College students from across the country flocked to the Xfinity4College Facebook page to enter for a chance at winning an unprecedented prize – a one-week stay at the Seaside Heights, New Jersey beach house famously featured on the popular MTV reality series “Jersey Shore.” For the first time ever, MTV would award a winner and up to nine of their friends the opportunity to eat, sleep and fist-pump in the same house as Snooki, JWoww, Deena, Vinny, Sammi, Ronnie, Pauly D and The Situation.

The lucky victor, 23-yeard-old Stockton College student Jessica Mercado, was shocked when she was notified that she had won the grand prize. “I didn’t really believe it at first,” Mercado said, explaining that she’d been a fan of the show since it began in 2009. “I watch it all the time. It’s crazy. So unreal.”

“Do you know how hard it was to pick nine people to go?” she added.

When Jessica and her friends arrived for their first day at the Italian flag-bearing beach house, they had no idea that there were even more surprises inside. Just one month after finishing the sixth and final season of “Jersey Shore,” cast member Deena Cortese (and boyfriend Chris Buckner) had returned to the house to greet the guests.

Jessica arrives at the 'Jersey Shore' house (Photo: Nicole Murphy)

Mercado took her first steps into the house and dropped her purse on the now-famous black leather couch before spotting the cast’s self-proclaimed “blast in a glass.”

“I knew it!” Mercado exclaimed before turning to her friends, who had now entered the house. “Guess who it is?”

Deena congratulated Jessica and warmly welcomed each of the houseguests before settling into comfortable small talk. Moving to the outside deck, Deena provided an update on her then-pregnant pal Snooki and regaled the group with a brief description of life as a reality star before posing for photos and recommending local bars, clubs and hot spots.

“[The house] looks a lot smaller than I thought,” remarked Mercado as the friends went back inside. Even Deena and her boyfriend remarked about how different the house looked (i.e. cleaner and much darker) when it’s not packed with a film crew and rowdy roommates. Almost every inch of the house’s ceiling is covered in holes where light rigging was once attached.

At last, Deena gives Mercado and her friends a tour of the house, beginning with her room (her “nook,” as she called it), followed by Snooki and JWoww’s room, where Snooki had personalized a dresser with a leopard-print decal. “This is so surreal,” Mercado remarked, as the tour moved from Ron and Sammi’s room to the upstairs floor. Next, the group was introduced to the boys’ bedrooms, the infamous “smush room” (where the cast goes to get “romantic”) and the confessional room, which now sports a small bed.

Jessica chats on the duck phone (Photo: Nicole Murphy)

After the tour, Jessica and her friends dispersed throughout the house to take photos (the “duck phone” was a popular attraction) and, perhaps, claim their bed. One of Jessica’s male companions already knew which room he wanted. And which room he didn’t.

 “Probably one of the upstairs rooms,” he said. “Hopefully not the ‘smush room.’”

Another friend peeked out the front window of JWoww and Snooki’s room to check out the growing mob of shore-goers who had been attracted to the house by the parade of black SUVs and general activity. Among them was a pair of British women who claimed to have delayed their flight back to London when they heard Deena was possibly inside.

“Crazy,” said one friend.

“They probably think we’re the new cast,” Mercado remarked with a laugh.

And just like the actual “Jersey Shore” cast, Jessica and her friends quickly learned to ignore the onlookers and settled in to their new digs. Some trekked to the deck for a cigarette. Others cozied up to the massive dining room table for lunch, which was provided by the cast’s favorite Italian restaurant, Rivoli’s. Deena was treated to a surprise reunion with Danny, the actual landlord of the “Shore” house and owner of the adjacent “Shore Store,” who stopped by to greet his temporary tenants. Outside, Jessica retrieves her bags from an SUV.

“Is Deena inside?” one of the British girls asks.

“No, she left,” Mercado says with compassionate smile.

Undeterred, the girls turned their attention back to the house as their fingers clicked away at their cell phones. Welcome to the Jersey Shore.

Deena, Jessica and her friends (Photo: Nicole Murphy)

Are you a college student? “Like” Xfinity4College on Facebook today. Don’t miss the sixth and final season premiere of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” on October 4th.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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