Turn out the lights, the party’s over. What began with a “oh fuck, why not?” phone call turned into a once in a lifetime journey that spanned three months, yet somehow took up seven months of blog time. Look at the date on that first post in this series… April 11th. Not even I knew on that early Spring day that it would be three seasons and 32 weeks later when I would finally type up the final entry in this crazy storytelling project I undertook only because I ran out of Flashback Friday ideas. How in the hell did I milk this game show tale for over 50,000 words and even more pathetic attempts at humor?
I did not extend this story one final chapter to
brag pontificate over how long it ran… but to merely serve as an epilogue to the main plot, while also tying up a few loose ends and including some cool things I forgot. Like the fact that I was an unwitting pawn in an online contest…
No really… I made thousands of people (besides all of you reading this) boo and jeer me!
During the first few months of 2001, ABC ran an online contest based on a similar game that was a hit on their sporty sister ESPN’s website. It was called Hot Seat Draw 3, and each night the show aired, you could log in and get a random draw of three of the finalists (the carryover was also thrown into the mix) along with three ways each of those contestants could score points for you. Since all of the ways to score points involved at the very least making it to the Hot Seat, anyone who drew my card had no chance of winning the valuable prize of a TiVo for accumulating the highest nightly score. To make it up to those people who still curse my name to this day, here’s a potential draw of my card that would have given them much better odds:
They even took special photos of us in the Ring prior to the taping to use for their HSD3 profiles. Do I still have the image of that HSD3 photo? Yep, thanks to a kind message board buddy to emailed it to me long, long ago. Am I gonna share it with you…. not a chance. It looks even worse than my on air intro still does. Given the number of unfortunate looking people that were on my show, I’m surprised our group’s foray into the world of fantasy game show leagues didn’t kill off the franchise…
Probably the most intriguing loose end that dangles over my prolonged tale of woe is whether or not Amy Turner’s incessant stalling in the Hot Seat, as well as the show’s unwillingness to edit the majority of it out, cost me a chance to fuck up a third fastest finger question. Despite only seeing eleven questions, Amy took up almost 25 minutes of the show’s 42 minutes and change of airtime…. or about 60% of the show was dedicated to her.
The key to unlocking this mystery lies in the fate of Kevin O’Neill, who finished off my show by making quick work of his first nine questions. If we could have squeezed another five, or perhaps even ten minutes of time into his run that was instead used to listen to Amy babble over fingernails and petty officers, would he have vacated the Hot Seat before the final horn sounded?
The answer is most likely no… because Kevin wound up seeing four more questions when he carried over to the next show, and not a single one of them went as quickly or smoothly as the nine we got to see him breeze through in the waning moments of my taping. He used his three lifelines, one a piece, on each of the next three questions before finally deciding he had 125,000 reasons to walk away from his $250,000 question that asked who the then poet laureate of the United States was. While I never saw that show to get an idea of the time it took Kevin to finish off his stack, I sincerely doubt it could have been crammed onto my show even if Amy had played a bit more smoothly. And after all, we got a huge break anyway in the way carryover Ed Toutant got prematurely ejected from the Hot Seat… so in a way, everything balanced out in the end. It just wasn’t meant to be…
Coming from a message board that was full of Millionaire wannabes at the time, I’ve seen many, many others walk the same path I did of making it all the way to New York only to leave with the Turtle Wax. To say that the experience didn’t sit all that well with a good number of those people would be an understatement. And I can certainly understand why it could cause bitterness… after all, I am positive I’d have won at least $32,000 had I not managed to brain fart on either of those two fastest finger questions. Though it’s no million bucks, that’s a lot of money to have so temptingly close only to see it vanish in a puff of smoke at the sound of a horn. And if I say I don’t still think about how that may have changed my life 13 years ago, it would be the biggest lie I’ve ever told on this blog.
But being one of the most self depreciating squirrels you’ll find has its benefits, and rather than be bitter and depressed over a once in a lifetime opportunity squandered, I have instead chosen to embrace what happened and just marvel over the fact that some insignificant moron like me was even a blip on the radar of one of the most highly rated game shows at the peak of its popularity. The entertaining tale that’s been told here every Friday for as long as you can remember could have never been spun by someone who only looked back on the misfortune through piss and vinegar glasses. Right off the bat, I decided to just let it go.
Besides, even coming home a loser still managed to turn me into somewhat of a local star. My co-workers at Mecca who were around when this all happened still tell the newer people that the
dictator guru of the paper goods and chemicals department was once on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I can’t tell you how many times in the months after the show aired that customers after chewing me out over an out of stock recognized me and stopped to ask if I was the local guy they saw on Millionaire. I experienced deja vu of the celebrity phenomenon in 2004 when The Game Show Network (Now just GSN) picked up the original primetime episodes of Millionaire to add to its lineup. I’ll admit it was fun to have people pick me out in public as someone they saw on TV for the brief time that it lasted… but I’m extremely happy I don’t have to go through it every day like real celebrities do…
So could there ever be a repeat of the Millionaire Journey (Assuming there’d be enough time left in the universe to chronicle it, that is)? Well, despite the fact that I’m still not a fan of whoring myself out at an audition, I did attend two more local tryouts for the show… one in August 2001, and the other for the watered down syndicated version of Meredith Vieira Millionaire in October 2010. Given the quick brush off I got from both experiences, I gained an even greater appreciation for how lucky I was to slide through the original audition. And I also picked up this cool GTFO souvenir from the latter of those two complete wastes of time…
And….. well, there you have it folks. I promised you a recap of my experience on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and I gave you an epic novel that spanned over half of the year instead. I do hope you enjoyed it though, and were able to find joy in even the obscure tangents, pretty pictures, and totally predictable 168 hour cliffhangers I provided. For hanging in there with me for so long, I think you all deserve a special badge to commemorate making it all the way to the end of this cybermarathon without keeling over from old age….
And so there will be no more talk of lunulas or glowing potatoes. No more gagging over mystery meat and continental breakfasts. No more condemning shitty airlines and fleabag hotels that have since rightly gone out of business. No more caterpillars, curses, T-shirts or scary limo rides. No more babbling, stalling, show tune singing, or waiting until next Friday. And absolutely no more unsightly visuals of Regis trying to pronounce “Wynema” while taking a dump….
This is the end, my friends. The end of The Millionaire Journey.
Thanks for reading!