Who Doesn’t Want to be a Millionaire?
Loyola junior competes in high-stakes game show
July 20, 2010
It wasn’t that the seat was hot. It was that it wasn’t attached to the floor. When Megan Toth, ’12, applied for a chance to appear on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, she hadn’t realized that one of the challenges would be balancing precariously on a stool while questions were fired at her.
“I’m a huge klutz, so I was really worried,” said Toth, who traveled to Manhattan for the Nov. 11 taping. “If you sit on the stool the wrong way, it tips over.”
Clumsiness aside, the Farmingdale, N.Y., resident had had plenty of experience watching the show over lunch with her mom on summer vacations. Toth was studying abroad in Montpellier, France, when her mother sent her an e-mail to ask how she would like to watch a live taping when she came home. While surfing the show’s website, Toth noticed an invitation to submit a video to be a contestant. With a few minutes free, she filmed herself and sent the video along.
“I didn’t tell anyone because I thought the chances were so slim,” she said. A show representative sent her an online test. Then one day, when she was back in the states, Toth heard her cell phone ring in a summer economics class. She glanced down to see a “212” number, and her mind went immediately—and correctly—to the show. She was in.
On Toth’s 19th birthday, she boarded a train for New York City and settled in for a day of hair styling, make-up, food—and, of course, the million-dollar competition. “This was a once- in-a-lifetime chance,” said Toth, whose mother came to the taping, while her father stayed at work in case his daughter needed to “phone a friend” during the show. “My mom was more nervous than I was. She met some lady that was sitting next to her, and she said she was grabbing her hand so tightly that they became friends.”
Toth didn’t fall off the seat. Instead, she chatted with the show’s host, Meredith Vieira, fielded questions on topics ranging from the Nook (the e-book reader) to Graceland, and signed an agreement not to tell anyone—besides her parents—how much she won before the show aired in April. She didn’t tell her brother, her grandparents, or any of her Loyola friends who were clamoring to know.
She was relieved when she could break her silence. “I was going for $10,000, and the clock just starts getting to you, and the pressure,” she said. “I was very happy to win $5,000.”
If Toth had won the million, she would have put it toward her Loyola education and maybe a red convertible. For now, the psychology major with a marketing minor is happy with her winnings—and even more ecstatic to have had an experience she sees as a perpetual icebreaker.
After all, it’s not every day you get to demonstrate your intelligence and receive a compliment on your outfit from Meredith Vieira.