As host of HGTV’s Designed to Sell, Monica Pedersen knocked out more than 90 episodes in neighborhoods all over Chicago before the show stopped filming last year. “The nicest homeowners are firemen, cops, and teachers,” she says. “They were fun about it, never afraid to get their hands dirty.” Any day now, Pedersen will knock on a lucky HGTV viewer’s door to give away a Vermont vacation home plus $500,000 in cash and a new car, worth more than $2 million total. “The winners know nothing beforehand—I hear it all, I’m wearing an earpiece,” she says. Pedersen met her lawyer husband at a Blackhawks game 13 years ago, and the two are supporters of Lyric Opera of Chicago and other causes. On nights off, Pedersen gorges on reality television shows such as Bravo’s Real Housewives series.
Photograph: Maria Ponce