|Regis Philbin (1999–2002, 2004, 2009)|
Meredith Vieira (2002–2013)
Cedric the Entertainer (2013–2014)
Terry Crews (2014–2015)
Chris Harrison (2015–2019)
Jimmy Kimmel (2020-present)
ABC: 4/8/2020 - present
Embassy Row (2020-present)
|Buena Vista Television/Disney-ABC Domestic Television|
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (or Millionaire later on in the syndicated run) is the hit U.S. game show based on the British game show of the same name where contestants 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.
Gameplay (1999-2010, 2015–2019, 2020-present)Edit
The host asked up to 15 (later 14) 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 moves on to the next question.
Here's how they score for each question (amounts in bold are benchmarks, in other words, guaranteed sums; therefore, it's yours to keep). However, 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 are removed by the computer, leaving only one incorrect answer and the correct answer. In the primetime version's first three seasons, the incorrect answers that are to be taken away were determined by the show's production team; when the show moved to syndication, the incorrect answers were taken away randomly. This lifeline was discontinued in 2008 but was resurrected in 2015. When the lifeline returned, so did the practice of having the production team select the answers to be taken away; those answers are predetermined but not random.
- Ask the Audience – The audience is given the same question as to the contestant, and their job is 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 to never be removed from the game.
- Phone-a-Friend – The contestant could call a friend or family member and ask the current question for 30 seconds, and the phoned friend or family member gave his/her answer. This lifeline was ended 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. The lifeline would eventually be replaced by Plus One in 2014. The lifeline was used in the 2020 revival.
- Switch the Question – If the contestant thought that question was too hard to answer, he/she could ask the computer to 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 beginning in 2004 and was ended in 2008. However, any lifelines used prior to this one were not reinstated when the new question was shown.
- Double Dip – The contestant got two chances to answer the question. No other lifelines nor a 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 to 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. Also, during the Clock format, if a player used this lifeline, got the first answer wrong, and time ran out before they could give their second answer (as the timer continues after the first wrong answer), it would be considered a wrong answer, meaning they had to go back to the last milestone that they reached.
- 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. The lifeline was removed in 2010.
- Plus One – Debuting in Season 13, this lifeline allows a contestant to call upon his or her companion to come on stage and help answer the question. This lifeline is very similar to Phone a Friend; however, the contestant's companion cannot look up the correct answer on the Internet (the looking up of answers by companions on the Internet resulted in Phone a Friend being removed in 2010).
- Extra Help – Used during Off to College Week in Season 14 and play is similar to Plus One, this allowed a player to consult another companion for help; this could only be done after Plus One was used.
- Ask The Host – This allows a player to ask the host to see what answer does the host thinks is right. This was used in the recent primetime Jimmy Kimmel era episodes since there was no studio audience in attendance due to COVID-19.
- Ask The Guest – Used during the revival and play is similar to Plus One, this allows a player to consult a guest for help; this could only be done after Ask The Host is used.
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, if a player got past at least question 5 or 10, they would win the milestone money that would be gotten, even if they were to give a wrong answer along the way.
The Clock Format Edit
From 2008 to 2010, in addition to the questions having specific categories, all questions were played against a clock. The Wii video game by Ludia and Ubisoft uses this format.
These are the time limits that contestants faced when answering the questions; if time ran out, the contestant left with their earnings up to that point:
|# of Questions||Time Limits|
|Questions 1-5||15 Seconds|
|Questions 6-10||30 Seconds|
|Questions 11-14||45 Seconds|
|$1,000,000 Question (The Golden Clock)||45 Seconds + Total amount of time left over from the first 14 questions.|
Gameplay (The Shuffle Format, 2010–2015)Edit
The format was revised again for the beginning of Season 9 in the fall of 2010. The clock was removed, and there were 14 questions, not 15. Additionally, the first ten questions were 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 categories for the questions were also randomly shuffled, as well. Each correct answer would add the question's value into the contestant's bank; however, the question value would not be revealed to the contestant until after they had either provided a correct response or used the Jump the Question lifeline. Contestants could still leave the game prior to answering the tenth question, but in doing so they forfeited half of their total winnings banked to that point; should they reach the eleventh question, they could leave with the entire bank, up to $68,600. The final four questions (referred to as "Classic Millionaire") were played for set values ($100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000) and augmented the contestant's winnings to that point for a correct answer as before. A contestant who missed a question prior to answering the tenth question left with $1,000. Once a contestant reached the eleventh question, the minimum increased to $25,000.
In Seasons 9-12, players had three lifelines in this iteration: "Ask the Audience," and two "Jumps". If a contestant thought a question was too hard, they could use this to jump to the next question. The catch was that the money behind that question was out of play in Round 1; in Round 2, using this would immediately jump to the next question inline (i.e. jump the $100,000 question, and the next question you see would be for $250,000) Unlike other lifelines, this could not be used on the final question. There were two of these from 2010 to 2014; this was reduced to one with the addition of Plus One for 2014-2015.
Another lifeline exclusive to this format was the 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 the other lifelines. This lifeline was revived for the week of January 21, 2013.
During special "Whiz Kids" weeks (where preteens played the game), players were offered a lifeline called Cut The Question. Played similar to Switch the Question, this allowed a player to swap out a question and replace it; however, this did not affect the money behind it unless the player jumped it.
The stage was also significantly redesigned. There was no more "Hot Seat", and the questions (and other pertinent information) were now seen by all on a large screen in front of the contestant. The contestant and host now stand.
Another feature exclusive to this version was "Double Your Money Week", where the value of one of the questions was randomly double, up to $50,000. In addition, as tie-ins for various sponsors, certain weeks had bonus prizes attached to certain questions, such as trips and the like.
For Season 13, one of the "Jump the Question" lifelines was removed and replaced with a new "Plus One" lifeline, described above. In addition, the categories for the Round 1 questions were discontinued. Plus One was retained for the switch back to the classic format in 2015.
Starting with the shuffle format in 2010, if time is running out at the end of an episode, in lieu of starting a new game, one of three audience games would be played:
Who Wants to Be a Thousandaire? – (originally called "The $1,000 Question" from 2010 to 2013); A random audience member is given one chance to win $1,000 by answering the next question intended for the previous contestant. No lifelines were given to the contestant. From 2010 to 2013, 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. In 2012, the prize was Facebook Credits for the Millionaire Facebook game. In 2013 only, this became a separate question, rather than the next question for the previous contestant. In 2014 [with the elimination of the categories in Round 1], this was reverted back to the next question intended for the previous contestant. For "Double Your Money Weeks", answering the question won $2,000.
Team Millionaire – (2014) Two players get a question, and both lock in their answers separately. If both are right, they each get $500 and a bonus question with which they could double their money, but if at least one is wrong, they get 20 seconds to try and come up with the right answer as a team.
Fastest Feet – (2014) A variation of "Fastest Finger". Four audience members hold answers to a question, and after being given the question, they must arrange the answers in the correct order. Once they think they have the correct order, they must shout out "Final order"; if wrong, they must keep arranging until they get it right; if right, they each win $250.
Since its inception, games can straddle between questions. Meaning, after a contestant answers a question, the show would go to a commercial. If time runs out in the middle of the game, a horn would sound signaling the end of an episode. The contestant will then see the next question on the next show. Only twice in the show's history had the $1,000,000 question played at the beginning of the episode; the first was Tom O'Brien from 2000, he already had $500,000 at the end of his last episode, but chose to walk away at the $1 million question; as it turned out, he would've been right. The second was Jeff Gross from 2004, who also chose to walk away but would've been wrong.
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 $1,000,000. All questions required the contestants to put four answers in the proper order. If a mistake was made, the player could hit the Delete button and re-start, but once the OK button was hit, the answers were locked in. The contestant to place the answers in the proper order in the fastest time earned a chance to play for the million. Before the Fastest Finger Question was revealed, the host asked the in-studio audience for complete silence so the contestants don't get any answers blurted out and thus are humiliated. 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 were visually-impaired, the host would read the question and 4 choices all at once (which were 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 they couldn't 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 on 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 face the Golden Clock for 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.
For "Three Wise Men", the contestant could consult a group of three experts, one of whom was a former contestant from the show (million-dollar winner or not), and at least one of whom was female, for 30 seconds.
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 answer the $2,500,000 question.
10th Anniversary SpecialEdit
To celebrate Millionaire's 10th anniversary, the show returned to ABC prime-time in August 2009, with Philbin hosting, for an 11-night event. The Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire and the 2008 economic crisis helped boost the interest of the 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 10th anniversary special & final date on Sunday, 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 minutes & 39 seconds (banked time of 3 minutes & 54 seconds + 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 a minute & 12 seconds remaining on the clock, he decided to trust the audience... and lost $475,000, making this the first 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 on 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 that he has not been able to find since.
20th Anniversary SpecialEdit
On January 8, 2020 in the wake of its 20th Anniversary celebration it was announced that it would become a celebrity edition with limited-run episodes of specials with Jimmy Kimmel as its new host (and executive producer) along with being on its original network (ABC) to air it. According to the article, in this version, celebrity contestants can invite a guest with them such as a family member, a beloved teacher or a famed trivia expert to help them answer questions correctly. Additionally, viewers at home will be able to play along with a new interactive mobile game that will allow them to compete to win the same amount of money that the celebrities are playing for on the show. The revival is set to be aired on April 8 after the series finale of the sitcom Modern Family. Original creator Michael Davies along with former EP of The Price is Right and former host of shows such as Beauty and the Geek and Divided Mike Richards will executive produce this version along with Kimmel.
Here are all of the contestants (so far) who have won the million dollars. When someone won the million dollars, confetti in a rainbow of colors, rained down in the studio.
- 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. Regis didn't count this as a lifeline though, as he mentioned at a later time when John came back on the show for charity, finally having to use his lifelines for the questions, that John went 15 questions without having to use a lifeline.
- 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: Didn't use any lifelines.
|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 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: Didn't use any lifelines.
|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: Didn't use any lifelines.
|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) Did not use any of his lifelines since they were already used up earlier in the game.
|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|
Ed Toutant (1951-2018)Edit
- 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 dollar 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. Ed passed away on November 6, 2018 due to brain cancer.
- 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 a 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: Didn't use any lifelines.
|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 contestant 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.
She held the record for the most amount of money won by a female contestant on a game show for more than four years until it was overtaken by Ashlee Register (who won $1,795,000 on Duel) in December 2007.
- Million Dollar Question: Didn't use any lifelines.
|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 the winner of the tournament. Sam is also the most recent top-prize winner of the U.S. version.
- Million Dollar Question: Didn't use any lifelines.
|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
- TV Week
The List of Guest Hosts (Vieira era/Syndicated version only)Edit
From 2007 until 2011, when Vieira was concurrently working as a co-host of Today, guest hosts appeared on each season of the syndicated version. among them were the following:
- Al Roker
- Tom Bergeron
- Tim Vincent
- Dave Price
- Billy Bush
- Leeza Gibbons
- Cat Deeley
- Samantha Harris
- Shaun Robinson
- Steve Harvey
- John Henson
- Sherri Shepherd
- Tim Gunn
- D.L. Hughley
- Regis Philbin
(NOTE: Philbin's guest host week of shows were aired out of order to coincide with his hip replacement surgery in 2009. Of the contestants that appeared on weeks featuring the guest hosts, almost none of them carried over to the following week.)
On January 10, 2013, Vieira announced that after 11 seasons with the syndicated version of Millionaire, throughout which she had hosted more than 1,900 episodes (not counting the guest host weeks) and offered a vast multitude of contestants with a combined total of $70,000,000, would be leaving the show as part of an effort to focus on other projects in her career. Vieira finally taped her last batch of episodes in November 2012. Vieira's successor as host of the syndicated version of Millionaire for the twelfth season was comedian and former original King of Comedy Cedric the Entertainer, who in turn was succeeded by former NFL player and actor Terry Crews in the thirteenth season, then by Chris Harrison in the fourteenth season.
This was a loyalty program that allowed members to earn points for watching and shopping; members could redeem those points for rewards just like any other loyalty program. Viewers got a special code, which was really a question similar to those of the Hot Seat. This lasted from September 5-December 6, 2011, in Season 10. It is unknown what happened to any members' points.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It!Edit
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It! was an attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida from April 7, 2001, until August 19, 2006, and at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California from September 14, 2001, until August 20, 2004. The attraction itself was a modified version of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire television game show.
The attraction's theater was a replica of the television show. Sessions of the game ran seven times a day; each session was 25 minutes long (but did wait until the current contestant vacated the hot seat to stop) and seated 647 park guests.
The Disney Theme Park version of the game differs from the television version in several ways:
- Contestants competed for points, not dollars (most likely because it would have been too expensive or time-consuming). A contestant won a Disney Collector's pin for each point level he/she passed (minus any down to the previous milestone if he or she got a question wrong). A prize table can be found below.
- Every audience member had his or her own A/B/C/D keypad. The ten contestant row seats were not special in any way (other than a video display of the camera work). Access to these seats were chosen in a number of different ways before the show, including random selection, quizzing of guests waiting in queue, and special "Magic Moment" coupons dispense from the attraction's "Fast Pass" dispensers telling the bearer to present their Fast Pass to an attraction cast member for special seating. There were several times where just asking before the show began would grant access to one of these seats if they are still available for the next show.
- To begin a session, the fastest finger question was asked. The audience member who got the correct answer in the shortest time got the hot seat.
- The hot seat contestant had only fifteen seconds to answer each of the first five questions (100-1,000 points), thirty seconds for the next five questions (2,000-32,000 points), forty-five seconds for the next four questions (64,000-500,000 points), and fifty-five seconds for the final million-point question; the real show internationally carried a variation of this format from 2008 until 2010.
- Each audience member could answer a question on his or her keypad at the same time as the hot seat contestant did. Contestants won points by pressing the correct button quickly; at the 1,000 and 32,000-point levels the game was paused briefly to show the top ten scores. If the hot seat contestant got a question wrong or decided to walk away, instead of additional fastest finger questions, the top scorer in the audience took his/her place, as long as there was time remaining. (Usually, only two full games were played.) The player with the highest score on the last game only won congratulations from the host, if that.
- The three lifelines were: 50:50, Ask the Audience, and Phone a Complete Stranger. Ask the Audience is immediate; the audience's answers can be instantly polled. because the audience already had a chance to enter their answers. Phone a Complete Stranger connected the contestant to a Cast Member outside the theater who found a guest to help.
- Disney Cast Members were not permitted to participate.
- Park guests playing as hot seat contestants were required to sign a waiver after completing their game. This waiver declared the "Fair Market Value" of all prizes received (in Walt Disney World by regulations set by the Florida Gaming Commission) and an agreement that the guests would be ineligible to participate as hot seat game players for a pre-determined amount of time. (100-500,000 point winners had a 30-day blackout. 1,000,000 point winners also had the 30-day blackout, but were also prohibited from winning the million-point prize again for 365 days).
- Questions based on Disney parks and films often appeared at any point during the game.
- Usually, because the Fastest Finger First could be won by a younger audience member randomly selecting the correct one of the 24 possible orders and inputting it in a ridiculously small amount of time, the first five questions were usually easy enough that anyone in the audience could answer them correctly.
Upon correctly answering each question, the player received a collectable label pin with the attraction's logo and question point value. Various other prizes were awarded at milestone questions. The chart below references all the prizes obtained by achieving each milestone. Unlike the real show, no cash prize was awarded.
|5||1,000 Points|| "Play It!" lanyard|
100-1,000 point pins
1,000 point baseball cap
|10||32,000 Points|| "Play It!" lanyard|
100-32,000 point pins
1,000 point baseball cap
32,000 point embroidered shirt
|15||1,000,000 Points|| "Play It!" lanyard|
100-1,000,000 points pins
1,000 point baseball cap
32,000 point embroidered shirt
1 million point leather jacket
1,000,000 point medallion
Disney Cruise Line vacation for four
In the early days of the attraction, contestants would also achieve a copy of the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" First Edition CD-ROM game (for which you can see in the "Merchandise" section for details) upon correctly answering the 32,000 point question.
During the original television run of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire", contestants would receive a trip for two to New York City to see a taping of the television game when correctly answering the Million point question, in lieu of a Disney Cruise vacation.
During Disney's Hollywood Studios' Star Wars Weekends, the first two games of the day featured questions based on the Star Wars films and the universe and began with Greedo in the hot seat, answering questions in the alien language Rhodanese. The lifelines in the "Star Wars Weekends" version of the game worked exactly like the regular game but were named: 50:50, Ask the Jedi Council, and Phone a Stormtrooper.
During ESPN The Weekend, also based at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Play It! consisted of sports trivia questions; contestants got to "team-up" with ESPN personalities and sports figures, according to the official ESPN: The Weekend website. For this edition of the game, the "Phone a Complete Stranger" lifeline was replaced with a chance to ask an ESPN expert (either Howie Schwab or the Sklar Twins) for assistance.
Both Disney's Hollywood Studio & Disney California Adventure's version of the attraction offered FASTPASS on these attractions. FASTPASS at Disney's California Adventure's version of the attraction was available for the whole run, while Disney's Hollywood Studios version was taken out when the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show arrived.
The attraction's former sound stages at Disney's Hollywood Studios are now the site of the interactive Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction.
The sound stage and Millionaire attraction at Disney's California Adventure were built as a quick fix to the initial criticisms and low attendance the park faced upon its opening in February 2001. Though the building has been unused since the attraction closed in 2004, it was rumored to be used as the park's temporary main entrance while it undergoes a major renovation project. Now the temporary entrance will be next to Soarin' over California.
When the Millionaire attraction in Disney Hollywood Studios (Orlando, FL) closed, most of the props from the studio were removed and given to a 3rd party company that sold them online. Such items include all of the audience member keypads, fastest-finger chairs, monitors covers, and more. Jeff Gross (former $500,000 winner of the U.S. syndicated version of the show, and also a contestant on the British version of the show where he witnessed the coughing antics of Tecwen Whittock during Charles Ingram's infamous run in which he would later not receive his million-pound winnings) announced in November 2008 during an appearance as an 'expert' for Millionaire's new "Ask the Expert" lifeline, that he was the successful bidder for the auction of Play It!'s contestant hot seat. The hot seat reportedly sold on eBay for more than $400.
On several occasions over three years, the attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios hosted tapings of the television show for later broadcast.
The following are a list of countries that have aired their versions of Millionaire:
- Afghanistan (Pashto & Persian language)
- The Arab Maghreb
- Arab World
- Belgium (French & Dutch language)
- Canada (English language only)
- Costa Rica
- The 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 (the country that originated the program)
For some episodes of the 1999-2002 run, as well as some episodes of Seasons 9-11, usually depending on the content on the questions; as well as on the celebrity-themed weeks. This rating was primarily used on the Super Millionaire and 10th Anniversary primetime runs. Beginning in the Cedric the Entertainer run, this rating was used on a full-time basis.
Used the same theme as the original British version by Keith & Matthew Strachan from 1999 to 2010 & 2020 to present.
Ah2 music composers Jeff Lippencott and Mark T. Williams composed a new theme for the shuffle format's introduction in the 2010-11 season.
At the time, Meredith Vieira was the second female to win a Daytime Emmy award for the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (or Millionaire for short) for "Outstanding Game Show Host" twice in 2005 and in 2009 respectively, the first was Betty White for the short-lived Just Men! in 1983.
Despite the years between them, both Cedric the Entertainer, and Terry Crews had a short-lived one-year-only tenure as hosts.
The sound effect for the Phone-a-Friend's clock was later used on the ESPN game show 2 Minute Drill; coincidentally, Regis Philbin was a panelist in the first season championship game that aired on Christmas Day 2000.
The 2020 ABC primetime revival would be Kimmel's second game show based on a British format he hosted for the network, his first was Set For Life (based on the equally short-lived British game show called For the Rest of Your Life) in 2007.
Based on the British show by David Briggs.
ABC Television Center, New York City, NY (1999–2014)
The Connecticut Film Center, Stamford, CT (2014–2016)
Caesars Entertainment Studios, Las Vegas, NV (2016–2019)
Los Angeles, California (2020-present)
Online Game Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Facebook game promo poster
Current online game
Original online game
Original online game 2
Road audition info
"Dancing with the Stars" Week
"American Pride" Week
Official Rules for Season 8
Official Rules for Season 13
Cruise in and Win 2012
Cruise in and Win 2013
Magical Family Getaway
Countdown to the Oscars
GSNN Extra's coverage of Super Millionaire (February 2004)
GSNN Extra's coverage of Super Millionaire (May 2004)
GSNN Extra's coverage of Millionaire's 10th Anniversary
10th Anniversary Play-at-home game rules
Blue Room's Portfolio of the Season 7-8 Millionaire graphics
Andy Walmsley's Millionaire portfolio
Andy Walmsley's other Millionaire portfolio
Juliane Schlamp's version of the UK Millionaire site
Josh Rebich's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Rule Sheet
THQ's website for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire 2nd Edition for Game Boy Color (via Internet Archive)
Downloable Question Kits for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire 3rd Edition (via Internet Archive)
Buena Vista Interactive site for all Who Wants to Be a Millionaire games (via Internet Archive)
Millionaire CD-Rom Updates
WLS-TV's Chicago Millionaire Mania