Mark L. Walberg & Liz Hernandez
Syndication (California): 1/17/2009 – 7/3/2010
3 Ball Entertainment
Milestone Entertainment
California Lottery

Make Me a Millionaire is the California Lottery's short-lived replacement/spinoff for The Big Spin, where 12 contestants play a series of games to win cash and prizes. And at the end of the show, one lucky contestant will play a bonus round for a progressive million-dollar jackpot.


The show has four random-play games, and does not retain the Big Wheel or Dream Machine from the show's predecessor. The games are described here in the order of their appearance in the show. Some other merchandise is also given away in addition to the stated prizes.

Lucky PennyEdit

Lucky Penny gives to each of three players a prize of either $2,000 in cash or a car. Each player begins with ten "penny" tokens and gets four turns to generate a random number from 1 to 9 that matches or comes close to a target number; the target number in each turn is a different digit in the retail price of the car. At each turn, the difference between a player's random number and the target number is the number of pennies that the player loses; matching the target number exactly wins back two of the previously lost pennies (a player cannot have more than ten pennies).

At the end of the game, each player with at least one penny left wins that car; with no pennies, a player gets $2,000.[1]

The game appears similar to The Price is Right's pricing game Lucky $even, but with the fundamental difference that Lucky Penny is purely a game of chance.

Safe CrackerEdit

In Safe Cracker, two players compete for cash prizes ranging from $2,000 to $92,000. The game offers two rounds, but only the first-round winner gets the option of continuing to the second round.

In the first round, each player begins with $2,000 and gets up to five turns to increase that prize. The players alternate in choosing from a set of ten safes. When chosen, a safe is opened to reveal its contents and remove it from further play. Seven of the safes have amounts ranging from $1,000 to $20,000. The other three are empty. Players accumulate values until one of the players has chosen two empty safes. That player leaves with half of his or her accumulated amount. The other player receives a $5,000 bonus and the option to leave with the accumulated winnings or go to the second round.

In the second round, the player chooses one safe out of five. Three of those safes will double the player's winnings, but the other two will halve the winnings.[2] Regardless of the outcome, each player receives 500 Make Me a Millionaire scratchers.

California CoolEdit

California Cool is a one-player game with up to four rounds and cash prizes ranging from $5,000 to $200,000. In each round, the player picks a number from one to five, to reveal a statement about California. The player gains money only when the choice reveals a true statement. After each round, the player may leave with the accumulated winnings or continue to the next round.

In the first round, the player wins $5,000 for each choice that reveals a true statement. The round begins with one play in which all five statements are true, ensuring a win. The game is reset with one false and four true statements, and the round continues until the player picks the false statement. At the end of the first round, the player's accumulated winnings may range from $5,000 to $25,000.

For the remaining rounds, the payoff is either a doubling (for a true statement) or halving (for a false statement) of the winnings, with one play per round; a false statement also ends the game. Round 2 has one false statement; another false statement is added in each successive round,[3] so that there are only two true statements in round 4. A player who wins round 4 will have doubled the first-round winnings three times, resulting in total accumulated winnings ranging from $40,000 to $200,000.


All six contestants who have not been in a game yet appear on stage, and the host calls the name of the one person who gets to play the last game. The remaining five each receive $2,000 and 500 Make Me a Millionaire scratchers. Millionaire pays a minimum of $10,000 with a jackpot starting at $1,000,000 and increasing by $200,000 each time it is not won.

On March 21, 2009, Josefina Sineriz won the $2.8 million jackpot, becoming the first millionaire from this show.[4][5] Five months later, on August 22, 2009, Natalie Marston won $5.2 million, becoming the second multi-millionaire on the show.

The Millionaire game was played similar to Card Sharks but without the cards.

The game begins by generating a random number from 1 to 50, which counts as the first winning number and awards the player $10,000. Each subsequent winning number awards them an additional $10,000. Play continues to get up to ten more winning numbers by guessing whether the next random number will be higher or lower than the previous winning number. Winning all eleven numbers (each number represents one letter of the word "millionaire") augments the earnings to the jackpot. After one wrong guess, the player must choose before each turn whether to leave with the accumulated earnings or continue to play (by saying the show's title). A second wrong guess ends the game and the player's earnings are halved (the $10,000 minimum is not halved).[6] From the show's premiere through the July 18, 2009 episode, the player won only $10,000 when the game ended from a second wrong guess.[7]

Regardless of the outcome, the winner receives 1,000 Make Me a Millionaire scratchers.

Set PicsEdit

Similar ShowEdit

Flamingo Fortune - Clone of this show for the state of Florida from 1995-99 (Though the format similar to this started in 1997.)


J.D. Roth


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  1. Make Me a Millionaire Premiere, 1/17/09, Part 1 of 4. Retrieved January 19, 2009.
  2. Make Me a Millionaire Premiere, 1/17/09, Part 2 of 4. Retrieved January 19, 2009.
  3. Make Me a Millionaire Premiere, 1/17/09, Part 3 of 4. Retrieved January 19, 2009.
  4. "New Lottery TV Show Makes First Millionaire", 2009 1st Quarter Press Releases, California Lottery, March 21, 2009. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
  5. Make Me a Millionaire $2.8 Million Dollar win Retrieved March 23, 2009
  6. Make Me a Millionaire Episode 128 - Air Date 7/25/2009, from 17:25 to 18:12 of the recording. Retrieved August 7, 2009.
  7. Make Me a Millionaire Premiere, 1/17/09, Part 4 of 4. Retrieved January 19, 2009.


Official Site
Full episodes of the show from the California Lottery
Pics of the set

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