So maybe I won’t be a millionaire

Sept. 19, 2000

Loews L’Enfant Plaza

3:05 p.m.

I have been obsessed with game shows for as long as I can remember. I can vividly recall coming home from pre-school, sitting in my den and watching the Price is Right while eating a peanut butter sandwich on cinnamon raisin bread. I subscribe to the game show network and can watch reruns of game shows from the 70s and 80s for hours. Yes I know this does sound somewhat pathetic but the idea of being able to win fabulous prizes has always appealed to me.

When I heard Who Wants to be a Millionaire was coming to D.C. to hold auditions for its first-ever college edition, I knew I had to give it a shot. I always fancied the games on television that required no intelligence like Wheel of Fortune, Press Your Luck and the Price is Right. I wasn’t sure how well I would fair against all the smart people who would try out, but hey, the worst thing that could happen was I wouldn’t make it.

The audition started at 2 p.m. and students were allowed to line up at 1 p.m. One would think with a million dollars on the line that more students would have jumped at the opportunity, but only 73 students attended the audition.

Everyone in line was friendly – no one was trying too hard to psyche out the competition. I realized that while I might be a diehard game show fan, these students were gung-ho Millionaire fans. One guy said he tried out and qualified to be on the show 53 times by calling but never got a call to be a contestant. Anyone can call the show for a shot at qualifying, which requires answering three out of three questions correctly. Others in line bragged about how ironic it was that they were missing class to audition for the show, and several people came from as far as Delaware to audition.

After the producers brought the group of students into one of the rooms at the hotel, they read a bunch of rules and tried to make small talk with us. Some students were studying almanacs and others, including the guy next to me in line, were trying to win over the producers with their personalities. I just kept thinking to myself, yeah, personality does count, but only if you are smart enough to pass the test, so just be quiet.

At about 2:15 p.m. the Millionaire staff finally took us to another room, where they distributed the test, which consisted of 30 fast-finger questions asking us to rank four things in a specific order. We were told we had 15 minutes to finish the exam and if anyone was caught cheating they would be disqualified. The test was handed out and off I went.

Question one, no problem I think I had that one. I was a little hazy on question two. Question three, I had no idea. And on it went throughout the exam. I knew I was never excessively book smart, but this was ridiculous. I finished the test in 8 minutes – when you don’t know the answers, there is no need to dwell on it. Would you be able to rank the order from the earliest release data of the following cereals: Cream of Wheat, Trix, Shredded Wheat and Oreo O’s?

At about 3 p.m. my hopes and dreams of being on a television game show were crushed. I didn’t pass the exam and I would not be moving on to the interview stage of the audition.

One thing I learned from this whole experience: I better stick to the game shows that require luck and not intelligence if I plan on winning any of those fabulous prizes.

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