Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (updated with video!)

Well, personally, I wouldn't mind a bit. The things I could do... pay off my debts, travel, maybe go back to school. Augment my son's somewhat meager college fund, sock away a bit for retirement. Then I could help some family members and friends who are in financial straits. Perhaps a little renovation to my house, or build one to my own specifications on a piece of land away from the maddening crowd that is now Tallahassee (it's definitely not the same little town I grew up in).

Alas, the odds of me becoming a millionaire are pretty slim the way things are going now. I still have my job. I still have my debts. My son is still signed up for the 2+2 prepaid college fund (no bells OR whistles). I can't help other people much though I try when I've got a few extra dollars.

My brother Jay, however, had the opportunity to become a millionaire! On a whim one night, he was googling around and landed on the application page for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" - and he filled out the application, went to take the written test and was one of 15 people who passed. Then he had to wait. The wait to get on the show can be a couple of years, I hear, so he didn't expect anything anytime soon.

Then he got a call. They'd had a cancellation and could he be in the studio the next day? He had to fill out a questionnaire and recruit friends to be in the studio audience. There was a frantic round of phone calls to family asking for funny stories because he was drawing a blank. I reminded him of trying to learn how to drive - for a guy so good on his feet, he just couldn't get the gas/brake/clutch concept. It was raining and we were on a dirt road. He remembers it as a hurricane. Anyway, after a sleepless night stressing out over all this stuff, he went to the studio - checked in and waited. They didn't get to him that day, but he was in the next set of tapings. It was probably a good thing, as he actually managed to sleep before he had to be on stage.

All this happened back in October before we went to Korea. I had him alone in a foreign country and he STILL wouldn't tell how he did. And I'm pretty good at keeping secrets. Of course, there was a non-disclosure clause... If he told, he wouldn't receive any winnings he might have made - so he told NO ONE. Not even me.

Last week, we finally got the word - his episode would air Tuesday, January 18th. In our area, that would be at 12:30pm, right after the noon news on ABC. I taped it at work so I could show ZBoy after school. I swear, every TV at the TV station was tuned to "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" today! There was much kibitzing between offices and my friend Kelly kept buzzing me on the intercom to comment from across the building.

Jay looked GREAT! He was smiling and happy and bouncy and you could see Meredith Viera was having a terrific time with him. He was confident! Then the first question... which he passed because even though he knew Vasco de Gama was from Portugal, one of the other options was Spain which caused just enough doubt that he jumped the question (passed on answering and on the money that went with it). He jumped the third question as well, but got every single other question right - including one no one believed he'd answer correctly. He actually KNEW that answer, and wowed the audience both in studio AND at home! And on to round two with $55,300 in his bank!

Round two didn't start off well, though. The first question stumped him. He asked the audience and they agreed with what he thought the answer was, so he went with the audience. They were wrong. That was the end of the game for him - but he walked away with $25,000 after answering the question incorrectly (if he'd walked away before answering, he'd have kept his $55,300). Oh well... he took his shot and it's $25,000 more than he had when he walked in there! Not a bad day's work!

He doesn't get paid until about a month after his episode airs. Uncle Sam will take his cut (about a third, I'm guessing - winnings are taxed differently). Inevitably there will be a few family and friends approaching with hands out - strangers too. People get greedy when someone wins and think they can horn in on good fortune without having to put in effort to make their own. I hope he takes care of himself first though - he needs a new computer. He wants to do a little traveling. And he quit a job he hates - this money will give him the ability to look for something he really wants to do and still pay the rent for a couple of months. Amazingly, $25,000 isn't that much in the end, but it affords him a chance to relax a little, which he's certainly earned - more than most.

Congratulations, Baby Brother!!! We're so proud of you!

For those of you who are interested, but didn't get to watch, here's his episode!


Jan n Jer said...

Wow..that is so cool..wish I knew earlier..I would have tuned in! Congrats to your Baby Brother!!!

Bethany said...

Very cool! $25,000 is a nice chunk of change!

Faye said...

Congratulations to Brother for taking a chance and then doing so well. And perhaps he should consider Secret Service or CIA for next career if he's that good at keeping a secret.

The Church Lady said...

That is soooo cool! Congrats to your brother!

Island Rider said...

He sounds like a smart guy! Congrats to him!

Sandy said...

I watched this before I knew that he was related to you! He is one of the most charming, least annoying contestants I have seen in a long time. I so wanted him to win but unfortunately I had the same answer he did. Oh, well.

Tell him to enjoy his money and just have some fun.

PinkPiddyPaws said...

I blame the audience! *snort* It was the best show ever and I'm not just saying that because I adore you and your family! (well...maybe just a little) :)

Kid Brother said...

I'm blushing over here! I'm really glad everyone enjoyed it. Definitely some of the most fun I've ever had in my life... and maybe if they're picked up for a tenth season they can invite me back for more!

Pamela said...

I watched when you posted on facebook

He really was a fun guy to watch. (fungi?)

grace said...

I love him Sayre!! I wish I had read this earlier and watched it earlier. congrats to him.

karmyn R said...

Where was I when this happened? So absolutely cool....and your brother is a real cutie!

Ann Ward said...

That is so cool!! He really has a great camera presence too. Congrats to him on his 25k - it wasn't a million but it's a lot!