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Denver Teacher a DIY ‘Stud’

10/23/2006 8:06 AM Eastern

Gionni Thompson, a 35-year-old high-school science teacher from Colorado, will host a home-improvement series on TV next year after winning DIY Network’s Stud Finder contest.

Thompson, who teaches chemistry at Hinkley High in Aurora, Colo., was selected among hundreds who attended open casting calls or submitted videos. Network officials cited his smile, personality and do-it-yourself skills.

“When we saw the tape from Gionni’s audition in Denver, we knew he had star quality," DIY general manager Kathleen Finch said in a news release. "He’s totally relatable and we really believe he will connect in a very special way with the DIY audience.”

Thompson will take his first trip to New York to appear on NBC’s Today,and he will be profiled in a one-hour DIY special early next year.

DIY said its camera crews surprised Thompson of Centennial, Colo., in front of his class last week with the school principal, marching band and cheerleaders in tow. Thompson’s wife, Tonya, an assistant middle-school principal, and their five-year-old son, Gio Gio (short for Giovanni), were there, as well.

DIY vice president of programming Freddy James added in the release, “I remember seeing the auditions in Denver and spotting Gionni on the line. It was clear that he had the good looks necessary to make it on television, but I was hoping he had the skills to back it up. He’s naturally funny and approachable and will be a terrific addition to DIY’s lineup.”

Thompson cited recent home projects in the release: “I just put up a 42-inch plasma screen behind a two-way mirror in my bathroom. That way I can watch the news while my wife puts on her makeup.” He also made a shoe rack for his wife a few months ago. “Tonya has more shoes than Imelda Marcos, so this was more of a necessity -- she was tripping over herself in her own closet,” he said.

Scripps Networks-owned DIY said runners-up were full-time firefighter Darla Pitts, 31, of Chicago, who enjoys rehabbing old homes and flipping them for profit; and Matt Blashaw, 30, a self-employed handyman who lives in Brea, Calif.

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