|Regis Philbin 1999-2002, 2009|
Meredith Vieira 2002-2013
Cedric the Entertainer 2013-present
ABC 8/9/2009 - 8/23/2009
|Valleycrest Productions/Celador (1999-2007)|
Valleycrest Productions/2waytraffic (2007-present)
|Buena Vista Television (1999-2007)|
Disney-ABC Television (2007-present)
OPENING SPIEL (August 1999): From the four corners of the continent, we have flown them to New York City. People just like you, who called our phone number dreaming of instant riches. Will one of them seize this day, and have the knowledge and the courage to change the course of their lives in one short evening? Starting tonight, and every night for the next two weeks, join us from New York City as we play "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
OPENING SPIEL (November 1999-Fall 2000 Primetime): Last time/night on Who wants to be a Millionaire? (clips from the last episode of the show) Now, join us from New York, for (night [insert number] of) "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
The U.S. hit game show where players have to answer questions to win money. The more questions they answer, the more money they can win toward the grand cash prize of $1,000,000.
The host asked up to 15 questions. Each question has four possible answers (A, B, C & D). All the contestant has to do is to choose the one that is correct. The answer is not official until the contestant confirms it by saying "Final Answer" usually right after the host asks the famous question, “Is that your final answer?” If he/she is correct, the contestant wins money for that question and moved on to the next, but if at any time the contestant chose an incorrect answer, the game is over.
Here's how they score for each question (amounts in bold are guaranteed sums, though the amounts themselves are not cumulative):
If by chance a contestant is stuck on a question, he/she can call for a lifeline, thereby giving the contestant an added advantage. The contestant can use more than one lifeline on a question, but each lifeline can be used only once.
- 50:50 - Two incorrect answers were discarded by the computer leaving only one incorrect answer & the correct answer, of course. This lifeline was discontinued in 2008.
- Ask the Audience - The audience was given the same question as the contestant, and their job was to vote on which answer they think is correct by pressing one of four lettered buttons on their keypads. This lifeline is the only one of the original lifelines remaining. During Halloween Week 2012, this lifeline was known was Pick the Audience's Brains.
- Phone-a-Friend - The contestant can call a friend or family member and ask the current question for 30 seconds, and the phoned friend gave his/her answer. This lifeline was discontinued early in 2010 because of an increasing trend in contestants’ friends using Internet search engines to look up the right answer. While it was not necessarily a rules violation, it was contrary to the original intent of this lifeline. In return for the discontinuation of Phone-a-Friend, Ask the Expert became available immediately.
- Switch the Question - If the contestant thinks that question was too hard to answer, he/she can ask the computer eliminate that question and generate a new one. This lifeline was only given after answering the $25,000 question. This was only shown in the syndicated run starting in 2004, and was discontinued in 2008. However, any lifelines used prior to this one were not reinstated when the new question was shown.
- Double Dip - The contestant gets two chances to answer the question. No other lifelines nor decision to walk away was offered in this situation. This first premiered on Super Millionaire in 2004, and was used on the syndicated run from 2008-2010. Even though it never happened on Super Millionaire, it was possible (when available) to use 50:50 and then Double Dip to get the correct answer by the process of elimination.
- Three Wise Men - The contestant can consult a group of three experts, one of whom was a former million-dollar winner from the show, and at least one of whom was female, for 30 seconds. This lifeline was used on Super Millionaire in 2004.
- Ask the Expert - Similar to Three Wise Men. The contestant called for an expert face-to-face via Skype, and have that person collaborate on an answer he/she could use. The lifeline was originally available after the contestant got the fifth question correct, then moved to the beginning of the game after Phone-a-Friend was removed. Unlike Three Wise Men, there was no set time limit and the contestant and expert were allowed to discuss the question. If a video link to the expert was unavailable, the expert joined the show via phone instead.
- Jump the Question - Debuting with the "shuffle format" in 2010, this lifeline can be used twice in a single game. At any point prior to selecting a final answer, a contestant can use Jump the Question to skip to the next question; unlike the retired Switch the Question lifeline (see above), Jump the Question reduces the number of questions a player must correctly answer. However, if the contestant uses Jump the Question, they do not gain any money from the question they choose to skip (for example, a contestant with a bank of $68,100 may jump the $100,000 question, but will still have only $68,100 instead of the typical $100,000 when they face the $250,000 question). Unlike other lifelines throughout the show's history, this lifeline cannot be used on the $1 million question. During Halloween Week 2012, this lifeline was known as Bat Away the Question.
- Crystal Ball - Only available during Halloween Week 2012, and only available in Round 1, this lifeline allowed the contestant to see the amount of the question currently in play prior to giving an answer; it could also be used alongside Pick the Audience's Brains and/or Bat Away the Question. This lifeline was revived for the week of January 21, 2013.
Should the contestant run out of lifelines, he/she from here on out will have the option to stop and take any money he/she won up to that point. Upon deciding to stop, the contestant was asked by the host, "Is that your final decision?" However, should the contestant miss a question, the contestant won safety net money should he/she answer the 5th or 10th questions.
From 2008-2010, all questions were played against the clock. These are the times contestants faced when answering the questions:
|# of Questions||Time Limits|
|Questions 1-5||15 Seconds|
|Questions 6-10||30 Seconds|
|Questions 11-14||45 Seconds|
If any contestant reached the million dollar question, the time it took him/her to answer that question (and possibly win the million dollars) was 45 seconds plus the total amount of leftover time to answer the first 14 questions.
The format was revised again for the beginning of Season 9 in the fall of 2010. The clock was removed, and there are 14 questions instead of 15. Additionally, the first ten questions will be played for one of ten random amounts of money: $100, $500, $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, $5,000, $7,000, $10,000, $15,000, or $25,000. The ten categories for the questions are also randomly shuffled, as well. Each correct answer will add the question's value into the contestant's bank; however, the question value will not be revealed to the contestant until after they have either provided a correct response or use the Jump the Question lifeline. Contestants may still choose to leave the game prior to answering the tenth question, but in doing so they will forfeit half of their total winnings banked to that point. The final four questions are played for set values ($100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000) and augment the contestant's winnings to that point for a correct answer as before. A contestant who misses a question prior to answering the tenth question leaves with $1,000. Once the contestant reaches the eleventh question, the safe point increases to $25,000.
Players have three lifelines in this iteration: "Ask the Audience," and two "Jump the Question" lifelines, which allow contestants to skip any question except the million dollar question without adding its value to their bank. Using a "Jump the Question" during questions 11-13 leads to the contestant's winnings not being augmented to the question's value. For example, if the $100,000 question is answered correctly and the $250,000 is skipped, on the $500,000 question a player is able to either answer or walk away with their winnings of $100,000.
The stage has also been significantly redesigned. There is no more "Hot Seat", and the questions (and other pertinent information) are now seen by all on a large screen in front of the contestant. The contestant and host now stand.
In the event that a contestant leaves and time is running out, a random audience member is given one chance to win $1,000 by answering the next question intended for the previous contestant. Regardless of the outcome, the audience member receives a copy of the Millionaire video game for Nintendo's Wii console or Microsoft's Xbox 360 console.
Fastest Finger QuestionEdit
In the ABC prime-time shows, 10 contestants (minus the ones who already played) played a qualifying round called Fastest Finger for the right to play for the $1,000,000. All questions required the contestants to put four answers in the proper order. If a mistake is made, the player can hit the Delete button and re-start, but once the OK button is hit, the answers are locked in. The contestant to place the answers in the proper order in the fastest time earned a chance to play for the million. If two or more contestants tied for the fastest time, the tied contestants would play another question to determine who would move on to play. If nobody got the question right, that question was thrown out; another question was played in the same manner. If any of the contestants are visually-impaired, the host would read the question and 4 choices all at once (which are included in an envelope), then repeat the choices after the music began.
Various special editions and tournaments have been conducted which feature celebrities playing the game and donating winnings to charities of their choice. During celebrity editions, contestants are allowed to receive help from their fellow contestants during the first ten questions. Additionally, other special weeks have been conducted featuring two or three family members or couples competing as a team, as well as both a Champions Edition (where former big winners returned and split their winnings with their favorite charities) and a Zero Dollar Winner Edition (featuring contestants who previously missed one of the first-tier questions and left with nothing).
Other themed weeks featured college students, teachers, and brides-to-be. The syndicated version has aired a Walk In & Win Edition annually with contestants who were randomly selected from the audience without having to take the audition test.
In February 2001, there was a Tax-Free Edition in which H&R Block calculated the taxes of winnings so the contestants could earn stated winnings after taxes.
Special weeks have also included shows featuring questions concerning specific topics, such as professional football, celebrity gossip, movies, and pop culture. During a week of episodes in November 2007, to celebrate the 1,000th syndicated episode, all contestants that week started with $1,000 so that contestants could not leave with nothing and only had to answer ten questions to win $1 million. During that week 20 home viewers each day also won $1,000 each.
Progressive Grand Prize JackpotEdit
By January 2001, no contestant had won $1 million on the prime time version in the 71 shows that aired over a period of five months. The top prize was then changed from a flat $1 million to an accumulating jackpot that increased by $10,000 for each successive show in which none of the contestants could answer all fifteen questions correctly. $710,000 was initially added to the jackpot for the previous 71 shows that produced no millionaire.
On April 10, 2001, Kevin Olmstead answered the final question correctly and won $2.18 million, making him the biggest winner in television history at the time. After Ed Toutant's initial appearance, in which he answered a question containing an error, he was invited back for a second attempt to answer all fifteen questions for $1.86 million, the jackpot at the time of his original appearance. Toutant completed the task and won the jackpot; his episode aired September 7, 2001.
Million Dollar Tournament of 10Edit
Beginning in syndicated Season 8, in response to the show's lack of a top-prize winner since Nancy Christy in 2003, the program introduced the "Million Dollar Tournament of 10”. For the first 45 episodes of season 8, each contestant's progress was recorded, and the top ten performing contestants were seeded based on how far they progressed and how much time they banked.
In November 2009, the top ten seeds returned one at a time at the end of each episode to answer a single question valued at $1,000,000 without the use of any lifelines. Contestants risked previous winnings in the event of an incorrect answer and could walk away with their winnings from their prior appearance if they chose not to answer the question. Correctly answering the question placed the contestant in the running for the $1,000,000 prize, while incorrectly answering the question reduced the contestant's previous winnings to $25,000.
In the event that more than one contestant correctly answered the $1,000,000 question, only the top seed would win the top prize. Sam Murray was the only contestant to correctly answer the question and increased his original $50,000 winnings to $1,000,000.
Who Wants to Be a Super MillionaireEdit
In 2004, Philbin returned to ABC for 12 episodes of a spin-off program titled Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire in which contestants could potentially win $10,000,000. The program aired five episodes during the week of February 22, 2004 and an additional seven episodes later that year in May.
Contestants again answered a series of 15 multiple choice questions for higher dollar values.
Contestants were given the standard three lifelines in place at the time (50:50, Ask the Audience, and Phone a Friend) at the beginning of the game. However, after correctly answering the $100,000 question, the contestant earned two additional lifelines: Three Wise Men and Double Dip.
In 2008, the Double Dip lifeline was added to the syndicated version of the show replacing 50:50. In addition, the "Switch the Question" lifeline was also eliminated from the syndicated version and replaced with a new lifeline called "Ask the Expert," a modification of Three Wise Men.
Only one millionaire came from this version: Robert “Bob-O” Essig. Bob-O answered 12 questions correctly to win $1,000,000. He refused to even look at his $2,500,000 question.
Tenth Anniversary SpecialEdit
To celebrate Millionaire's tenth anniversary, the show returned to ABC prime time in August 2009, with Philbin hosting, for an eleven-night event. The Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire and the 2008 economic crisis helped boost interest of renewal of the game show.
The episodes featured gameplay based on the current syndicated version (including the rule changes implemented in the 7th season of the syndicated version) but used the Fastest Finger round to select contestants. The end of each episode also featured a celebrity guest playing a question for a chance at $50,000 for a charity of his/her choice but still earning a minimum of $25,000 for the charity if the celebrity got the question wrong. The celebrity was allowed to use any one of the four lifelines, and had no time limit.
The finale of the tenth anniversary special on August 23, 2009, featured a contestant named Ken Basin, an entertainment lawyer, Harvard Law graduate, and former Jeopardy! contestant, who went on to play the first $1 Million Question in the Clock format era. With a total of 4:39 (banked time of 3:54 + 45 seconds) at this level, Ken was given a question involving Lyndon Baines Johnson's fondness for Fresca (see photo for actual question). Using his one remaining lifeline, Ken asked the audience, which supported his own hunch of Yoo-hoo rather than the correct answer. With 1:12, remaining on the clock, he decided to answer the question and lost $475,000, the first and so far only time in the U.S. version that a $1,000,000 question was answered incorrectly.
After the show’s broadcast, Ken posted an entry in his blog about his experience in the show, including why he went for Yoo-hoo. He explains that he remembers seeing a photo of LBJ meeting the Beatles and drinking a Yoo-hoo, a photo which he has not been able to find since.
Here are the contestants (so far) who have won the million dollars.
- Date of Win - November 19, 1999.
John Carpenter was the first top prize winner of all international versions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and the only person to accomplish this feat in the 1990s. He also became the all-time American game show winnings leader from 1999 to 2000, before being eclipsed by Rahim Oberholtzer. In a rather memorable moment, he used his Phone-a-Friend on the final question not as a means of help, but to inform his father that he was going to win the million dollars. This was the only time he used a lifeline during his run.
- Million Dollar Question: Used his Phone A Friend on the Final Question.
|Which of these former U.S. Presidents appeared on the television series Laugh-In?|
|• A: Lyndon Johnson||• B: Richard Nixon|
|• C: Jimmy Carter||• D: Gerald Ford|
- Date of Win - January 18, 2000.
- Million Dollar Question:
|The Earth is approximately how many miles away from the Sun?|
|• A: 9.3 million||• B: 39 million|
|• C: 93 million||• D: 193 million|
- Date of Win - March 23, 2000.
Joe Trela became the youngest person to win a Million Dollars on a U.S. game show until Jamie Sadler won a Million Dollars on the Power of 10. He also became the first person to win the million with his lifelines having been used before the top tier of questions ($64,000-$1,000,000)
- Million Dollar Question:
|Which insect shorted out an early supercomputer and inspired the term "computer bug"?|
|• A: Moth||• B: Roach|
|• C: Fly||• D: Japanese beetle|
- Date of Win - June 13, 2000.
- Million Dollar Question: 50:50 and Phone a Friend were used on the final question.
|Which of the following men does not have a chemical element named after him?|
|• A: Albert Einstein||• B: Niels Bohr|
|• C: Isaac Newton||• D: Enrico Fermi|
- Date of Win - July 6, 2000.
- Million Dollar Question:
|Which of the following landlocked countries is entirely contained within another country?|
|• A: Lesotho||• B: Burkina Faso|
|• C: Mongolia||• D: Luxembourg|
- Date of Win - July 11, 2000.
David Goodman was notorious for using all of the available lifelines on the final question to confirm his answer.
- Million Dollar Question: Used his 50:50, Ask the Audience and Phone A Friend on the Final Question.
|In the children's book series, where is Paddington Bear originally from?|
|• A: India||• B: Peru|
|• C: Canada||• D: Iceland|
- Date of Win - April 10, 2001.
Kevin Olmstead ended a 9-month drought of top prize winners on the show and with the top prize bonus in play, he would win $2,180,000, becoming the all-time American game show winnings leader from 2000 to 2004, before being eclipsed by Ken Jennings.
- Million Dollar Question: ($2.18 Million)
|Who is credited with inventing the first mass-produced helicopter?|
|• A: Igor Sikorsky||• B: Elmer Sperry|
|• C: Ferdinand von Zeppelin||• D: Gottlieb Daimler|
- Date of Win - April 15, 2001.
- Million Dollar Question: Used his Ask the Audience and 50:50 on the final question.
|What letter must appear at the beginning of the registration number of all non-military aircraft in the U.S.?|
|• A: N||• B: A|
|• C: U||• D: L|
- Date of Win - September 7, 2001.
Ed Toutant originally answered his $16,000 question incorrectly and left with only $1,000 on January 31, 2001 when the top prize bonus was still available. It was later discovered that there was a mistake in his $16,000 question. He was then invited back to play for the $1.86 million prize that he previously played for, and ultimately went on to win the prize. He is also the most recent top prize winner in the prime-time edition of Millionaire.
- Million Dollar Question: ($1.86 Million). Used his 50:50 in the Final Question.
|During WWII, U.S. soldiers used the first commercial aerosol cans to hold what?|
|• A: Cleaning fluid||• B: Antiseptic|
|• C: Insecticide||• D: Shaving cream|
- Date of Win - February 18, 2003.
Kevin Smith ended a 14-month drought of top prize winners (the longest at the time) and became the first person to win the top prize in the syndicated version of Millionaire. He recalls when he was on the show (with no direct reference to the prime-time version) where he and a contestant both misread a question that the contestant eventually missed, so he allowed Meredith to read him his question again.
- Million Dollar Question:
|The U.S. icon "Uncle Sam" was based on Samuel Wilson, who worked during the War of 1812 as a what?|
|• A: Meat inspector||• B: Mail deliverer|
|• C: Historian||• D: Weapons mechanic|
- Date of Win - May 8, 2003.
Nancy Christy became the first and only female so far to win $1,000,000 in the US, as well as the second person to win the million without the use of lifelines on the upper-tier questions.
- Million Dollar Question:
|Who did Grant Wood use as the model for the farmer in his classic painting "American Gothic"?|
|• A: Travelling salesman||• B: Local sheriff|
|• C: His dentist||• D: His butcher|
- Date of Win - November 20, 2009. Banked Time - 2:38.
Sam Murray became the only person to win the top prize under the clock format. He won during the Million Dollar Tournament of 10 in 2009. He initially gained the tournament leadership on November 11, 2009 by correctly answering his million dollar question. Because nobody else took a risk for the million, and because Sam was the only person to do so, he therefore was declared winner of the tournament. Sam is also, as of 2009, the most recent top-prize winner of the U.S. version to date.
- Million Dollar Question:
|According to the Population Reference Bureau, what is the approximate number of people who have ever lived on Earth?|
|• A: 50 Billion||• B: 100 Billion|
|• C: 1 Trillion||• D: 5 Trillion|
Here are the past and present spin-offs and special editions of Millionaire:
- Celebrity Edition
- Champions Edition
- Top of the Charts Edition
- Zero Dollar Winner Edition
- Family Edition
- College Edition
- Twins Edition
- Couples Edition
- Tax-Free Edition
- Play to Play for Your Wedding Edition
- Teacher Edition
- Walk In & Win Edition
- Super Bowl Edition
- Pop Culture Edition
- Celebrity Scoop Edition
- Netflix Million Dollar Movie Edition
- Academy Awards Edition
In Popular CultureEdit
- In MAD TV, there are two versions that Millionaire has been in popular culture for. First, the celebrity edition and then a version parodying the name of the show as "Who wants to be the President?" Also, Lorraine, one of the characters on MAD TV, appeared in one of the episodes where Millionaire was a skit in the show. Regis was not in the episode where Lorraine came in; he only did the first two skits of Millionaire.
- In a Cartoon Network commercial for the Powerpuff Girls, Mojo Jojo is sitting in the Hot Seat when he is trying to answer a question. He decides to call someone with Phone a Friend. The Powerpuff Girls are sitting back at home watching Mojo and Blossom says, "Jeez Luis! Can you believe this guy?" Then Buttercup says, "About time already, for cryin' out loud!" Regis Philbin made an off-camera appearance in this.
- There is a movie based on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Slumdog Millionaire. It's about a man named Jamal Malik and he's trying to win 10 million rupees, but before he can do such a thing, he goes on one big adventure.
- Saturday Night Live parodied this show, both with its original title and as Who Wants to Eat?
- In The Lion King 1½ DVD, there is a special feature game called "Who Wants to Be the King of the Jungle?". The format is similar to the regular game play on Millionaire but the questions are shortened to 10 instead of 15. There are two lifelines that are different in this version as well. The 50/50 lifeline stays the same. The two different lifelines are "Poll the Herd" (Ask the Audience) and "Phone an Animal" (Phone a Friend). The viewer plays as Timon trying to help him be "King of the Jungle". Timon plays for grub, not cash. Meredith Vieira does make an appearance as host in this special feature. The questions are Lion King questions. Pumba also makes an appearance. 5 years later, Disney released a special DVD game called "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: The Lion King Edition featuring the classic style with questions about The Lion King, The Lion King 1½, & The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride, as well as behind the scenes questions. 50/50 & Ask The Audience lifelines are normal, but Phone a Friend is Phone an Animal (the only lifeline from King of the Jungle to carry over to the DVD game but uses the normal Phone a Friend symbol). You play as Timon the meerkat, one of the Phone a Friend choices is Pumbaa (despite Meredith saying you can call any animal if you're stuck on a question), and you win food (in this case "grubs") instead of cash.
- A PC CD-ROM parody game was released, Who Wants to Beat Up a Millionaire?
The following are a list of Countries that have aired their versions of Millionaire:
- Afghanistan (Pashto & Persian language)
- Arab Maghreb
- Arab World
- Belgium (French & Dutch language)
- Canada (English language Only)
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong
- India (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali & Bhojpuri language)
- Ivory Coast
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka (including Sinhala and Tamil languages)
- United Kingdom (Country that originated the program)
Photo of the original set in a 3D rendered styleEdit
Based on the British show by David Briggs.
"Is That Your Final Answer?"-Regis Philbin
"Final Answer?"-Regis Philbin
"From New York, everybody, Good Night!" - Regis Philbin
"From New York, everybody, Bye-Bye." - Meredith Viera
|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|
Original online game
GSNN Extra's coverage of Super Millionaire
10th Anniversary Play-at-home game rules
Blue Room's Portfolio of the Season 7-8 Millionaire graphics
Andy Walmsley's Millionaire portfolio
Josh Rebich's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Rule Sheet
John Carpenter becomes the first person to win the million
Dan Blonsky becomes millionaire #2
Joe Trela's Million Dollar Win
Kevin Olmstead becomes the biggest winner in Millionaire history
Nancy Christy becomes the first lady to win the million
Sam Murray answers his million dollar question correctly only to become the latest Millionaire via the Tournament of Ten
Meredith Vieira explains the discontinuation of Phone-a-Friend