“Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Christopher Matthews, that’s who.
Since the game show first launched in the U.S. 19 years ago, the Lewiston man has been scheming to become a contestant. That’s nearly two decades of working the phones, studying trivia and traveling back and forth to New York.
Matthews has gotten close. A phone malfunction derailed his efforts at one point, but he persevered and now, as “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” enters its 20th year, Matthews has been placed in the show’s contestant pool. Any time in the next two years, he could get the call he’s been waiting for, and at last get a chance to test his trivia knowledge on the bright lights of the WWTBAM stage.
We caught up with Matthews between trivia cram sessions and asked him a few hard questions about his experiences. He answered them quickly and at no point did he request a lifeline or a chance to ask the audience.
How did you get into the “Millionaire” craze? I actually first auditioned over the telephone when the show first began, back in 1999. As I was punching in the correct letter order for the question, my phone died! So I kind of brushed it aside until 2005 when I was reading an article in the New Yorker about following your dreams. One line said to try out for a game show, so I got the “bug” and auditioned in NYC around July of 2005.
How did you find out you were in the contestant pool? It was 2016 when I had just about given up hope for ever getting on the show, after 48 (Yes, 48!) trips to NYC for the written part of the audition test. Some money fell in my lap, I went down to the Brooklyn location where the road auditions were being held. I didn’t have a lot of hope, but I passed the audition test and was immediately given an on-camera interview. The whole experience was ethereal to me, because after just about giving up hope, I suddenly had new life injected into my weary soul.
How does one go about practicing for this? For me, I have studied every single question in a Trivial Pursuit game. I have trained my brain to read and watch the news with eyes and ears for details that I feel would make a great question for the show. Amazingly, some of the questions that I came up with myself have appeared on the show. Plus, I have some personal brain training exercises that are proprietary. (I will not give them away!)
Is there a category in which you’re particularly strong? I particularly am strong with the most obscure of facts. Any trivia lover will tell you that answers just come, it’s how our brains are wired. I have made it a point when studying to focus on my weak areas, like celebrity news, sports and issues related to fashion.
Is there a category in which you’re not so comfortable? Make up, television characters and basic things that us old people tend to forget, like elementary school subjects. The reason why the show “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” was so popular (and tricky!) is that some of the most difficult questions are the things that we were taught earliest, and easily forgotten as time passes.
When you’re not vying to become super rich through trivia, what are you up to? I am a computer technician, so a lot of my time is spent repairing peoples PC’s, by re-installing operating systems, virus removal, upgrading and downgrading devices. I love computer gaming as well.
It has always been my hope that I get on “Millionaire” and earn enough money to open a storefront business.
And Disney World. I want to go to Disney at least once in my life, because everyone I know has been there but me.