Monday, August 31, 2009

The Trivia Maven Gets The Hot Seat

Many of you may know that over the last couple of years, I have tried out numerous times to be a contestant on the TV game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." I entered through the web site, went down to ABC's studios in Manhattan, and took the written exam: 30 questions on all different subjects, with a choice of four each.

I actually passed it a few times, and was interviewed by a producer for about five minutes afterward. Then, every time I passed, I would get a card in the mail 2 or 3 weeks later saying that my name was not put in the contestant pool and that I should go back to the drawing board and try again.

Last year I thought I was done with it. I figured that for some reason I would never get on the show, and I should stop banging my head against the wall and just move on with my life.

Only, I couldn't do it. From the first time I saw "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," I've dreamed about getting my shot on the show, to sit in "The Hot Seat" and see what the pressure to answer trivia questions in front of a live audience and a TV one was like. So this year I went back, in secret, to see if I could make it.

I told no one. I entered through the web site again, and didn't pass the test. (They only tell if you passed, and don't say what the passing score is.) The test was actually a bit harder than the previous year, but this year they said before the test that you could come back the next day and wait in a stand-by line to try and take the exam again.

On July 16th, I did just that. I was one of about 100 people to get in that day at the 5 PM exam, and off the stand-by line. And lo and behold, I passed it. Only 10 people did, and after being interviewed by a producer, I was interviewed again, this time on video. And I was told in about 3 weeks I'd get a card telling me whether I was selected for the contestant pool. I waited it out, but I was prepared to get that "you didn't make it, try again" card.

Four weeks went by, and I didn't hear from them. I wasn't sure if it was a good sign or a bad one. But on August 13th, I got the card in the mail that I WAS selected to be in the contestant pool. I was excited, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll be picked for the show.

A week later, I was on the set of "The Bounty" filming my extra role, when I checked my cell phone for messages. There was one from a producer of the show, informing me that I was chosen to be a contestant for a future "Millionaire" episode.

I went back to my position on the set at Belmont Park in a complete daze. Holy mackerel. I'd watched the show for 10 years, and I was finally getting my shot.

I still can't believe it.

On October 1st, I'll go before the cameras at ABC and sit in The Hot Seat, chat with Meredith Viera (a Red Sox fan!) and we'll see what happens. My father and my friends Chris and Betty will be my lifelines. The show will be taped in advance, and it will be shown either later in the year or in early 2010.

For those you fans out there who want to come in and root me on, you can click this link, which will take you to the form for audience tickets. (One problem: there are two taping times on October 1, 12:30 and 3:30 PM, and I don't know which one, or maybe both, I will be a part of.)

BTW, if I win any money on show, I will be legally prohibited from saying exactly what I won until the show airs, so I can't mention anything about it after the taping here. I just want to do respectably. That will make me very happy.

But I can't wait until October 1. Am I nervous now? You bet! I've got a month to get ready. And that's a special date, too. Let's just say that someone from above may have been pulling strings, making this dream of mine happen.


Tex said...

Congrats to YOU!!!!
I could NEVER do that. I'd blank out. Love how people can know sometimes random trivia.

What an awesome opportunity as well for you to get a shout out for being Trivia Guy in NY at Prof Thom!!

One more reason to look forward to October this year!! I can't wait to hear how it goes

and GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!

The Omnipotent Q said...

Thanks for the kind words, Tex. And the fact I'm a Red Sox fan will be mentioned prominently when I'm on. Meredith Viera's a big Sox fan, so we'll have something big to chat about!

Peter N said...

Wow!!!!! Congrats, John. Please let us know the air date in advance. If I'm not home at that time, my DVR will take care of it.

P.S. I've always had a "crush" on Meredith and always watch the prime time show with Regis and sometimes the daytime version.

GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unknown said...


I was one of the lucky to get on and play this past year (air date was end of Sept. 2008). Enjoy it.

If you are not aware of it, there is a site called which has a lot of folks who talk (some may say obsess) about Millionaire, former contestants, soon to be contestants and those who will be contestants once the folks at Millionaire pick them. It also has links to great resources in preparing for the show. Stop by and introduce yourself.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Thanks so much for leaving the site address. I'm preparing for my appearance right now, and hopefully that will help me.