This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #9: Game/Quiz Shows.
"Well?" asks Howie Mandel. "Would you like to keep your case or switch it with the final one?"
You freeze in panic. How did you get into this situation?
You think back to the events that led to this conundrum...
When you were initially selected to be a contestant on the game show Deal or No Deal, you were thrilled. The day of the game came all too quickly.
As the lights shone and the camera rolled, you strode onto stage and surveyed the scene. On stage, 26 beautiful models held 26 briefcases numbered from 1 to 26. Each briefcase held a different amount of money. A video wall displayed the amounts in play (but not disclosing which case held which amount), ranging from \$4 to \$76,556,574.
"Why such strange amounts?" you asked.
"Well, it's a special puzzling edition," answered Howie. "Just remember, you don't get to see what value is in each briefcase unless you open it. And once you open a briefcase, it's out of play. Now select a briefcase to begin, and keep it closed!"
You selected briefcase #15, your favorite number. The model who held it handed it over with a smile. A good omen, you thought.
Things looked promising as the game progressed. Briefcases 17-26 were opened and contained middle-ranged dollar amounts. The four largest amounts, including the big prize of $76,556,574 were still in play!
But now, all the cases have been opened except two: Case #15, which you initially selected, and Case #16, held by the model Rocky Mindi Reese Holtan.
You need to decide if you should keep Case 15, or switch it with Case 16. And thrillingly, the big prize hasn't been found - which means it's in one of those two cases!
You definitely want to walk away with the grand prize... but which case to select? You consider what Howie said about a special puzzling edition. Cases 17-26 seem pretty random, but there is definitely some sort of pattern hidden in the first 14 cases which were opened. The dollar amounts in them are nearly in ascending order! Should you select case 16 because it's the highest number remaining? But Cases 5 and 6 don't fit the pattern... maybe you should take 15. Besides, it's hard to trust a model with two middle names...
Sweat beads on your forehead. Howie stares at you intently. "You look like you could use a hint. Here, take this." He hands you a cryptic looking crossword grid.
You contemplate the crossword and the almost-pattern you spotted in cases 1-14. What should you do? And can you complete the crossword?
Information you have gathered:
Case # Model Name $ Amount 1 Ti Heard $4 2 Ariel Evens $6 3 Callie Alice Reynolds $34 4 H. Pranava Middlesex $65 5 Penny Lane $752 6 Dot Ice Curt $564 7 Stu D. Finglas $7,664 8 Doctor Lira Street $5,574 9 Hope Yafter Backrate $75,655 10 Opal Tuccen Lost $56,674 11 Alabama Post-Fact $755,633 12 Stormy Emma Alchatti $475,544 13 Paulina Comtot Windswept $5,775,553 14 Comet Love Just $5,676,744 16 Rocky Mindi Reese Holtan