Who Wants To Be A…

At Disney-MGM, they have a show based on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. It uses an actual set (that gets used when the syndicated show tapes in Orlando), and the audience gets to participate for a chance to win prizes. Each seat is fitted with A-B-C-D buttons. The show starts with a fastest finger, and the fastest person in the audience (not just in the 10 seats at the bottom) gets to compete in the hot seat. But, instead of cash, you’re playing for points, and at each of the tiers on the normal show, you get a prize. At the 5000 tier, you win a baseball cap. At the 64000 tier, you win a polo shirt. And, if you get the 1,000,000 point question right, you win a 4-day, 3-night Disney cruise.

Scott had heard about this from his friend from work (and our neighbor), Andy, and being the game show nut that he is, he wanted to do this while we were at MGM. Also, being actuaries, they had figured out some strategies that could be used to get into the hotseat. The fastest finger, for example…on the real show, you’re competing against 10 people, so accuracy is key and speed is a tiebreaker. In this version, you’re competing against like 300 people, and there’s only 24 combinations of A-B-C-D. So, being fast is more important than being accurate, because assuming a random distribution of answers, at least 12 people are going to pick the same combination as you. Given this, we went into the show planning to just put in a set combination (his being different from mine), and put it in as fast as we can without even paying attention to the question.

Once the fastest finger person gets up, the next in the chair is determined by score. The audience plays along, and…if you’ve ever played NTN trivia in a bar, it’s kinda like that…there’s some (hidden) clock that is counting down when you’re answering, and your points decrease the longer it takes you to answer once the buttons activate…but it only counts if you get it right, and only your first answer counts.

On the Tuesday of our Disney vacation, we planned to spend the day at MGM. We got to the park not long after it opened. I caught a showing of the Beauty & the Beast show, and Scott went on Tower of Terror and the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster. We timed things to be ready for the first WWTBAM show of the day. Our plan was to go to as many of the shows as we could manage during the day, to try to get into the hot seat.

During the first show, we saw 3 people go in and out of the hot seat. Conclusion: People, like kids, are dumb. πŸ™‚ But, the good part is that one show ended right in time to go into another one. So, we headed back in. For the second one, we were better prepared, and we knew how the buttons worked. We were amused by seeing the same cast members do the same shtick again. On the fastest finger, it was putting states in order from east to west. After we entered our (totally random) guesses into the keypad, Scott realized the correct answer matched his randomly chosen entry. So, we got excited…and sure enough, he ended up in the hot seat!

Unlike most people, my sweetie is smart. He got to the 5000 level without using a lifeline (unlike most people, surprisingly). He had to use a lifeline on some questions before the 64000 level, but he made it there without too much trouble. One of the questions he used a lifeline on was, “What was the original name of Ivory soap?” Now, before I talk about this question, I should mention that unlike the real Millionaire, they give you a time limit on this version. That’s to keep it moving. You have to answer before time runs out or else you’re out of the hot seat. So, for this question, Scott used a lifeline called “Phone a Complete Stranger”. The other lifelines were normal, but obviously, when they’re cycling through 15-20 “contestants” a day, 7 days a week, they aren’t going to do the phone a friend. What they do is call out to a phone that is in the park, where an employee picks up and hands it off to a random person walking by. So, poing being, it’s almost completely useless as a lifeline…except that it buys you time to stare at the question, which is how Scott ended up using it. The possible answers were A-Clean Soap, B-Fresh Soap, C-New Soap, or D-White Soap. Scott had no idea and neither did the complete stranger…but after staring at it without as much pressure, Scott figured White Soap was a good guess…and correct! So, he keeps getting ’em right…and then…he makes it to the 1,000,000 point question! πŸ™‚

It was so cute. They do pan the camera to the people the person is there with at one point during the show, so everyone in the audience knew I was with Scott. There was this kid sitting in front of us who kept turning around going “Are you excited?” And the guy next to me kept telling me how proud I must be and how smart Scott is. Heh. πŸ™‚ So, I bet you want to know what the million point question was, right? Here goes:

In the 1997 NCAA Division II men’s basketball championship, who won?
A- Northern Kentucky
B-Cal State Bakersfield
C-Kentucky Wesleyan
D-Metro State

So, unless you happen to be from one of those schools or are a really huge sports geek, you probably don’t know that. I mean, I’d have no clue even if it was Division I, but Division II…that’s not the kind of stuff they go on about on ESPN. Scott took a guess that it was C, based on there being 2 Kentucky teams listed, but he was wrong. (The correct answer can be viewed here.)

So, he got escorted back to the prize room to get his commemorative pins, his hat, his polo shirt, and to be consoled by the Disney staff, who were really truly rooting for him, because they’d never gotten to fill out the form for a cruise (the last cruise winner was several months back)…and also because they really wanted an engaged person to win so that the trip would be the honeymoon. After getting help from some of the staff, I met Scott in the prize room and hugged him. He was a minor celebrity after that. We went outside of the show and there were some people who had been in the audience hanging around that were all like “Wow! You’re really smart!” and other comments of that sort.

There was one more show before the schedule had a break in it (probably a lunch break for the crew), so we decided to go ahead into another show. We had nothing better to do, and while Scott couldn’t be in the hot seat again, I could.

Fastest finger was putting Beatles albums in order from newest to oldest. And sure enough…my random combination came up, and I ended up in the hot seat next. Yes, that’s right. On the very next show. When all the crew (that is still the same, mind you) had just seen my fiance be up and had seen me cheering him on. But…nothing illegal about it, just dumb luck really…and a bit of actuarial strategy. πŸ™‚ Scott figured out the probability of our random combinations coming up as they did…I think he said it’s like 256 to 1 or something like that.

So, do you really think it would have taken me this long to post this if I’d won a cruise? πŸ™‚ I mean, I hate to spoil the story, but you know I wouldn’t sit on info like that. So, let’s get to the gist. I got all the way to 64,000 without using any lifelines. (Scott was out of lifelines at 128,000) I used a 50/50 at 64000 on a question about the location of Mt. Aconcagua. It was funny, too, because the only reason I even had a clue on that question is that the conference rooms at my old job in Arlington Heights were named for the highest mountains. The biggest room was Everest. So, I almost giggled as the host stumbled over the pronunciation (to my understanding, it’s like Ack-con-cog-wa, but with less emphasis on the “c” in “con”). I was pretty sure it was Argentina, but I wasn’t absolutely sure, so I used a 50/50, and that confirmed that Argentina was a possibility, so I went with that…and I was right. Oh yeah…the 32,000 question was “What is the answer to the life, the universe, and everything in A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?”. πŸ™‚ Should have been the 42,000 point question, right? That was another one that I almost giggled at when I heard it.

Yep, I didn’t have a single sports question. Things seemed to be coming up roses. And then they got me on the 128,000 question. Question was “Which of the following should be italicized in a formal paper?”. Possible answers: A-Sacred Books, B-Magazine Articles, C-Works of Art, D-Song Titles. Well, I knew it was B or D, and I had sworn I’d save my lifelines for ones where I couldn’t eliminate it down to a guess between 2, because I’d need a lifeline if I had a sports question. Time was ticking down…and books are supposed to be italicized, I remembered. I couldn’t figure out why they said Sacred Books, but books are to be italicized. So, I went with Sacred Books. But beep! Wrong-o!

So, here’s the thing. I’ve researched it since then. Books can be underlined *or* italicized, per the sources I’ve found, so I wasn’t wrong in my reason for my guess. Underlining was used because typewriters couldn’t italicize, but a human could go through and handwrite an underline where needed. So, some places still say to underline a book and some places say italicize, and some say either is fine. Works of Art have the same caveat. I can point to several sources that say books should be italicized. But remember, it was *sacred* books. The internet gets a bit fuzzy on that count. I did find several places that say that you neither italicize nor underline them. I also found places that said you should italicize them. Either way…Works of Art…most correct. πŸ™ They might be underlined or italicized, but there’s not the fuzziness that there is on Sacred Books.

And yeah, I’m bitter. Do you know how many times I’ve replayed that scene in my head since then? It’s not that I got it wrong…it’s that I got it wrong on something that by all accounts, I should have gotten right. I know english geek stuff. If I’d gotten the 1997 Division II champion wrong, I couldn’t fault myself for that. It’s not my area of expertise, and I’m not insane. But this??? There’s all sorts of reasons that I should have known that…or at least that I should have realized/remembered that Works of Art are italicized (from Japanese Painting class if nothing else) such that it would have clued me in that the reason Sacred Books was Sacred Books and not just books might be because they’re treated differently or something. All sorts of things I could have caught…but I didn’t. Who wants to be a loser? Apparently, me. πŸ™

Pictures from our Disney trip are in the Gallery, if you’re interested. πŸ™‚