“Who wants to be a millionaire?” has been asked for six years on ABC’s most popular game show. Temple University law student Eric Porter recently answered, “I do,” and won $16,000 when he appeared as a contestant on the network’s popular UK spin-off, which aired in two segments last Friday and Monday.
The 22-year-old from Huntington Valley, Penn. decided to become a contestant after his mother suggested he go on. Porter, whose favorite game shows include Jeopardy, The Price is Right, and the 1980s hit Press Your Luck, filled out an application last summer to appear on the show, and received an e-mail asking him to audition. He was then required to take a 30-question Scantron test along with 100 other potential contestants, and was chosen among the top 10 scorers to be interviewed by the show’s producers. He eventually got the call back to make his network television debut.
“I didn’t really get nervous to be on the show,” said Porter, adding that his only preparation for the trivia game was getting a haircut and a pair of new socks. “If I heard a funny fact, I’d remember it.”
Filmed in New York City in October, Eric brought along his parents, Beth and Stan, as his on-air companions, but was not allowed to tell anyone about his earnings, although his decision to appear on the show was supported by all of his family and friends.
“Everyone wanted to know how I did, but I couldn’t tell them. It was okay though,” he said.
After winning $8,000 on the show, which films five episodes each day, Porter “did a Superman quick change” and returned to complete the game, giving the illusion of two separate days.
Porter, hoping to win the coveted million-dollar jackpot, successfully answered all of his questions up to $16,000. He got stumped however, when he reached the question worth $25,000: What is the literary term for a novel that follows the development of a youthful main character? Unsure and all out of his help options, Eric decided to walk away with $16,000 rather than risk getting the wrong answer.
“I am more than satisfied. It’s definitely nice,” he said. “I was hoping they would ask me about animal rights or TV’s The West Wing. I got an animal question, but it was about mad cow disease.”
Porter, an animal rights supporter who once dressed up as an elephant to protest the circus, plans to donate a portion of his winnings to Compassion Over Killing, a DC-based factory farm animal rights organization.
“Then I’ll pay back all of my college loans and maybe spend the rest on Slurpies,” he said.
Now with a game show victory and $16,000 richer, Porter will continue pursuing his law degree, but future appearances on reality TV made not be too far away.
“I’m hoping to be on MTV’s I Want a Famous Face, and be made into Abe Vigoda from The Godfather, or on Meet Your New Mommy,” he jokes.
Although his desire for the million-dollar jackpot was not attained, Eric Porter still manages to have a sense of humor about his experience. “I wish I could have spent more time with [host] Meredith Vieira, but otherwise, I have no regrets.”
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, hosted by Meredith Vieira, airs locally on Philadelphia’s ABC affiliate WPVI Monday through Friday at 12:30 pm.
Andrea Boston can be reached at email@example.com.