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  #1  
Old 04-17-2001, 11:36 PM
eunoia eunoia is offline
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Two of the five "millionaires" (not really, after taxes)thus far know each other, and two big winners in the same week that another trivia show and a national promotion for a fast-food chain debut, is this beyond statistical probability?
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  #2  
Old 04-17-2001, 11:42 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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Rigged, no. But the kinds of trivia geeks who are likely to do well on the show (I number myself among them!) often hang out in the same chat rooms, play the same games, join the same puzzle clubs, etc. I appeared on the show (no, I never won the fast finger round, and never got to answer any questions), and so have several other people I know (though none were close friends).
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  #3  
Old 04-18-2001, 12:06 AM
astro astro is offline
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I still ge a kick out of remembering the WWTBAM contestant who, when given a list of books, was asked to choose the story (ies) based on the life of a real person and he chose ... yes... Tarzan. Even my 10 year old gasped at that one.
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  #4  
Old 04-18-2001, 12:25 AM
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Waitamoment... Don't new promotions for fast-food chains debut every week? The conspiracy must be broader than we thought.
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  #5  
Old 04-18-2001, 01:09 AM
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What astorian said.

I've scorekept for games where Dave Goodman played. And I've played with and against Rick Grimes and moderated, scorekept and played against Adam Fine, all of whom appeared on WWTBAM. And there are others I've met before they were on WWTBAM, including James Dinan (who's a biggie on the TRASH [Testing Recall About Strange Happenings] circuit).

All of them are members of the quizbowl community. http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/quizbowl is the message board. Goodman most recently, IIRC, played at a GWU academic tournament. I was with Rick Grimes for NAQT sectionals at JHU, for which Adam Fine was the Tournament Director. Dinan's the business manager for TRASH. He also occasionally appears in the academic circuit, if memory serves.

In short: you hang around the place a while, you pick up useful knowledge, both pop culture (TRASH) and academic.
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  #6  
Old 04-18-2001, 01:11 AM
Mercutio Mercutio is offline
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::smells this ones trip over to either MPSIMS or IMHO from a mile away::
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  #7  
Old 04-18-2001, 05:55 AM
ColdPhoenix ColdPhoenix is offline
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I don't know about the American version but I have my suspicions about the British one. Only one person has won a million and on the same night and time as the BBC showed the final ever episode of the popular comedy 'One Foot in the Grave'. Not only that but Victor Meldrew's (the star of the show) famous saying "I don't believe it!" was uttered not once but twice by Chris Tarrant (the host) as she won.
Hmmmmmm.
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  #8  
Old 04-18-2001, 06:08 AM
AWB AWB is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by astro
I still ge a kick out of remembering the WWTBAM contestant who, when given a list of books, was asked to choose the story (ies) based on the life of a real person and he chose ... yes... Tarzan. Even my 10 year old gasped at that one.
Tarzan wasn't a real person? Next you'll tell me Hannibal didn't cross the Alps on llamas.
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  #9  
Old 04-18-2001, 08:30 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Astorian's right. There is a large and close community of trivia addicts who have played College Bowl and Quiz Bowl, tried out and appeared on Jeopardy and WWTBAM as well as other shows (and who are ecstatic at the number of opportunities available to us now), who hang out in trivia chat rooms (mainly on AOL), and post regularly on alt.tv.game-shows and other web sites, and read Steve Beverly's Game Show Convention Center site every day. We appear on game shows in disproportionate numbers because we put more work than most into getting ourselves ready to do so, and because we put more work into the audition and contestant-search processes. What you see isn't the result of luck, it's the result of preparation and effort. If you think you're good enough, put the same effort into it and you'll make it on eventually, too.



As to why the UK has had only 1 top winner on WWTBAM, compared to (I think) 8 in the US, that's the result of 2 factors:

1. There have been roughly 4 times as many episodes shot in the US, even though the show hasn't been on as long.

2. Getting on the US show requires getting a lot more questions correct to even get in the pool to be selected (8 vs. 1, not counting the new audition process). That weights the contestant pool more toward us trivia addicts. In recent months, ABC has tried for more "diversity" by going to an audition process, like all other US game shows use, instead of the objective phone-in procedure I used to get on last year. Dunno how I'd do in an audition now that I'm no longer eligible, but I made it on Jeopardy that way, so who knows?
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  #10  
Old 04-18-2001, 03:55 PM
zen101 zen101 is offline
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Any fans of the now_exiled program "Sliders" may remember one world they landed on where general knowledge and physical prowess sports had ousted b-ball or other pure physical sports to be the top ranked entertainment venue (Einstein was a hero bigger than Michael Jordan).

While trivia programs are not at all like that (no physical element at all) I can certainly see a logical progression with the rise in popularity of shows like "Survivor" and "Boot Camp" at the same time that shows like "Millionaire" and "Weakest Link" and others of similar nature I feel that some time within the next two years there will be a physical/intellectual gameshow format that begins to take over and we will have a new breed of celebrity come out of it. How does this relate to the OP?

Well no one would be surprised if I said the last five people to win any given boxing title knew one another, or NASCAR title, or how about the last five chess champions? Once one enters into a rarefied environment (either because one is gifted or driven) one begins to find that there are fewer and fewer people to associate with in regards to that field of profession or interest.

Take a look at the ultimate sport "Ecco Challenge" and note that while the contenders come from all over the world most of the top competetors know one another previously. Like-lifestyles attract like-persons. This is why all of my friends are callow and self absorbed with terrible hygene and even worse grammar.
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  #11  
Old 04-18-2001, 06:02 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Did anyone think the show was rigged when no one won for 9 straight months? Or was the building up of tension part of the conspiracy?
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  #12  
Old 04-18-2001, 07:02 PM
handy handy is offline
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There is a pattern though. Watch the questions. Notice that they don't repeat an answer letter twice in a row; with an exception. In other words, say first answer is A, then B then D, you know that the next is gonna be C. Once four answers are given the pattern restarts, so number 5 question could be C......

Yep. Go & watch it yourself.
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  #13  
Old 04-18-2001, 07:46 PM
eunoia eunoia is offline
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Please don't misinterpret me, this has nothing to do with sour grapes, as a Canadian I'm not even eligible. I fully accept a producer's right to choose contestants that fit a certain image, or represent a large TV market (like Chicago, heh heh), which such shows demonstrably do. As for the quality of the contestants, AWB makes my point for me. I'm just wondering about the odds of two winners out of five knowing each other personally in a population sample of some 250 million people, and the fortuitous timing of the big wins.
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  #14  
Old 04-18-2001, 08:55 PM
Chas.E Chas.E is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mahaloth
Did anyone think the show was rigged when no one won for 9 straight months? Or was the building up of tension part of the conspiracy?
You might recall that the show handed out quite a few rich prizes in the early days, then I heard a news story that Lloyd's of London had insured the show against excessive winnings, and warned the producers to increase the difficulty of the questions to decrease the amount of prizes awarded. Then there was a long period of no winners, with pretty tough questions appearing at lower levels than ever before.

So to answer your question, of COURSE the show is rigged. It's rigged against the contestants. In deference to the show's insurer, they increased the difficulty of questions to trip up contestants and award them less money.
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  #15  
Old 04-18-2001, 09:22 PM
USCDiver USCDiver is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by handy

There is a pattern though. Watch the questions. Notice that they don't repeat an answer letter twice in a row; with an exception. In other words, say first answer is A, then B then D, you know that the next is gonna be C. Once four answers are given the pattern restarts, so number 5 question could be C......

Yep. Go & watch it yourself.
Handy,
I had heard that before about the first 4 questions never repeating an answer choice. But I watched one night and it wasn't true. The answers were in the order of A, B, D, A or something like that. There was no C.


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  #16  
Old 04-18-2001, 11:15 PM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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One point that has not yet been satisfactorily answered is whether big wins coming at "convenient" times (in oppositin to rival TV shows etc) is indicative of rigging.

The show does not go out live. One possibility is that they keep a bank of big wins recorded, but hold them back until an appropriate week, when they want the ratings to be higher. That would not mean that the questions were rigged as such.

One thing I've noticed about the Australian version is that before someone goes 50/50, the host always asks which answers the contestant considers may be correct, and which he/she has ruled out. Which, if the show is rigged, is what one would expect the host to ask, to enable them to know which two answers to leave in or take out, to either help or hinder the contestant. I'm not saying they do or do not do this, but it creates a suspicion in my mind.
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  #17  
Old 04-19-2001, 02:19 AM
Opus1 Opus1 is offline
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I can't believe for the life of me that a "computer" is taking away the two wrong answers on the 50/50. Every time, the two obviously wrong answers are removed, thus providing virtually no help to the contestant.
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  #18  
Old 04-19-2001, 06:44 AM
bluecanary bluecanary is offline
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50:50

Certainly by now in the British version it is well known that the 50:50 is preprogrammed, just like in the WWTBAM quiz books. The contestants know that when it's obviously between two answers the 50:50 is pretty useless. It's mostly used for narrowing down when you haven't got a clue.
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  #19  
Old 04-19-2001, 07:03 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by eunoia
I'm just wondering about the odds of two winners out of five knowing each other personally in a population sample of some 250 million people, and the fortuitous timing of the big wins. [/B]
The real "population sample" the contestant pool is drawn from is much smaller, as a number of posts have pointed out.

Opus1, the 50/50 choices are selected when the question is written, to leave the most plausible wrong answer. It's really only helpful if one of the remaining answers looks strange - that means it's probably right.

Princhester, pisodes are sequential (in the US version, anyway), as shown by the returning contestant on almost every show. Winners can't be "banked". The Oz host sounds like he's trying to help, in the way Regis Philbin does and Chris Tarrant does not. Oh, and is Gordon Elliott a better host than he showed in his brief stint here in "Chance of a Lifetime"?

Handy, the answers as they appear on the screen are in random order.

ChasE, the insurer wasn't Lloyd's, but the rest of your post is right. The insurer pays only for prizes above $250K, while ABC pays the rest themselves. That made sense for the original UK version, where the prize pool came from the toll calls aspiring contestants made, and in the early days of the US show, which had a similar arrangement until it became clear that advertising could pay the whole bill.

Eunoia, hang in there, the CTV version is going to be a regular show, not just the single week's worth shot last year. Keep checking http://www.ctv.ca for details.
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  #20  
Old 04-19-2001, 09:57 AM
astorian astorian is offline
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The 50-50 option CAN be the most useful lifeline, since it's the ONLY one that's guaranteed to make your choice easier. The audience or your phone-a-friend can be totally wrong, but the 50-50 option will NEVER mislead you.

Now, let's say the question is "Who was the first President to live in the White House?" The choices are A) Washington B) Adams C) Jefferson D) Lincoln.

The contestant says out loud "Well, I KNOW it wasn't Lincoln, and I seem to recall that Philadelphia was the capital when Washington was President... so it's definitely either B or C. Well, let me use the 50-50."

ZAP! The choices remaining are Adams and Jefferson! (Always seems to happen, doesn't it?) So, viewers wonder, is the guy at the control panel a sadist? Did he just leave those two answers because he'd heard the guy say those were the answers he'd narrowed it down to?

The answer is no: the staff that writes the questions determined LONG before the game was taped what the two choices would be if the contestant asked for a 50-50. When the questions were entered into the computer, "Adams" and "Jefferson" were flagged as the choices, if the 50-50 was called for.

Now, during the early stages, the 50-50 will almost always leave you with the right answer and a ridiculous answer, so you'll undoubtedly get it right. But for the high dollar questions, the two choices will usually be the two best answers (they don't want to make it TOO easy for you).

So, the 50-50 is really most valuable when you have no idea, or when you've eliminated one answer.

Suppose the question is "Who was Pip's benefactor in "Great Expectations" A) Uriah Heep B) Magwitch C) Murdstone D) Fezziwig."

Well, you've never read much Dickens, but you've seen Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol so many times, you KNOW it isn't Old Fezziwig! If you ask for the 50-50, you can HOPE the choices are Magwitch and Fezziwig, at which point you'll KNOW the answer is Magwitch.
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  #21  
Old 04-19-2001, 11:12 AM
handy handy is offline
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I watched around 125 shows & that number pattern shows up more than it does not.

Also, its kind of weird when you think about some of the questions that guys won $1M. HEre are two of the early US ones:

1. What is the approx distance from earth to the sun?
A: 93M miles (duh) The guy, an astronomer, had to think of this one for a bit.

2. What president once appeared on Laugh-In?
A; Nixon (duh) guy called his father on this one & said Hi.
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  #22  
Old 04-19-2001, 07:08 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Just a note, AFAIK, it's illegal to rig a quiz show in the U.S. (the law was passed in the 50s, after the scandals). The producers would be crazy to risk it, not only in terms of fines and other penalties, but if the word of any rigging got out (and it'd get out pretty damn fast), the show would be off the air in an instant. Why kill the goose that lays the golden eggs?
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  #23  
Old 04-22-2001, 12:42 PM
eunoia eunoia is offline
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You people aren't much help at all, in addition to being some of the most earnest people I've ever come into contact with. As for the notions that contestants are somehow "gifted" or "driven" (thus lowering the sample size? HA! I'm surprized some contestants were able to operate a telephone in order to participate), that networks are somehow afraid to rig a show (no, we made that mistake in the 50's and were made to pay dearly?), that the fast-food tie-in campaign is not a MAJOR coincidence (what was it Chomksy said about labelling things as "conspiracy theories"?), all I can say is that those ARE definitely opinions!
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  #24  
Old 04-22-2001, 01:55 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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Eunoia- you do me a grave injustice! I'd LOVE to believe that "Who Wants to BE a Millionaire" is rigged- that way, it wouldn't be MY fault that I didn't make it to the hot seat! I'd LOVE to believe that the reason I didn't make it was that ABC fixed the machines to put somebody else on instead of me! But it's not true!

What's more, IF a television network wanted to rig a show and have somebody win the million bucks, it DEFINITELY wouldn't be the boring, stiff, nerdy, middle-aged white guys who've usually appeared! Television networks HATE having older viewers! They want YOUNG viewers, because that's the audience advertisers look for.

IF they were going to rig the show, they'd rig it so some younger, cooler, more attractive contestants won.
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  #25  
Old 04-22-2001, 03:45 PM
Achernar Achernar is offline
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If the people at home don't know how well any given contestant is going to do ahead of time, how does airing a winner raise ratings?
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  #26  
Old 04-22-2001, 03:52 PM
ColdPhoenix ColdPhoenix is offline
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Achernar - "If the people at home don't know how well any given contestant is going to do ahead of time, how does airing a winner raise ratings?"

It was in the national newspapers in Britain (front page headlines in the tabloids) that the woman was going to win before the show was aired.
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  #27  
Old 04-22-2001, 03:58 PM
eunoia eunoia is offline
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I'm sorry astorian, nice to see someone with a sense of humour though. I'm not sure that having geeky guys win isn't an advantage. It works to weaken my theory. When those guys bring their mom to the show, though... (Disclaimer: I love you mom, just wouldn't bring you to New York)
Archenar: When people win a million dollars (or more), people talk about it. This may not help ratings for that show, but subsequent ones should benefit. Also I watched winner #4 win because my dad told me that there was going to be a big winner "if not tonight, this week". The source of the "leak" would probably be Live! with Regis and X.
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  #28  
Old 04-22-2001, 06:05 PM
Achernar Achernar is offline
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Thanks eunoia, that makes sense, but I guess I meant to ask, if airing the winners were a ploy to boost ratings at a certain time, then why wouldn't they publicize it like, apparently, they do in Britain?
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  #29  
Old 04-23-2001, 08:53 PM
eunoia eunoia is offline
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Since the shows are sequential, as mentioned by ElvisL1ves, they can't air winners when they please. It seems that they did pre-publicize the last winner and my guess is that they will do so more aggressively in the future (I called it a "leak" ironically, but it was obvious publicity, whatever the source, especially if it was Regis' other show). My question remains: By any or all the means at producers' disposal, do they take steps to ensure/avoid that there will be winners at certain times? Can it be proven statistically beyond the empirical evidence? As to whether this would be right or wrong, legal or illegal, we should adjourn to another forum.
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  #30  
Old 04-23-2001, 09:03 PM
eunoia eunoia is offline
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Since the shows are sequential, as mentioned by ElvisL1ves, they can't air winners when they please. It seems that they did pre-publicize the last winner and my guess is that they will do so more aggressively in the future (I called it a "leak" ironically, but it was obvious publicity, whatever the source, especially if it was Regis' other show). My question remains: By any or all the means at producers' disposal, do they take steps to ensure/avoid that there will be winners at certain times? Can it be proven statistically beyond the empirical evidence? As to whether this would be right or wrong, legal or illegal, we should adjourn to another forum.
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  #31  
Old 04-24-2001, 04:30 AM
Pjen Pjen is offline
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Two points:

Recently Britain had its second winner. This information leaked out about ten days before the broadcast (?purposefully) but usually the shows are recorded only a few days in advance (you can tell by the date changes for telephoning in between different sorts of shows- singles or couples). When it was broadcast it was on Saturday night- in Britain one of the Ratings War nights. What a surprise!

It would only take a mild easing of the difficulty of questions to greatly increase the probability of a winner. Sufficient to say that none of the series of questions that led to the million pound wins gave me any great problems, whereas often there are questions at the 100 000 and above level that are real stumpers.

To enable a win or avoid a win all they would have to do is to have two classes of questions above 100 000- reasonably difficult and very difficult. Avoiding very difficult questions would increase the odds greatly. Given the ability to manipulate transmission date (some shows do not pre-select the next contestant and so would allow shows to be run non-sequentially) together with the above would allow shows to be scheduled to run on particular nights.
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  #32  
Old 04-24-2001, 10:19 PM
RM Mentock RM Mentock is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achernar
Thanks eunoia, that makes sense, but I guess I meant to ask, if airing the winners were a ploy to boost ratings at a certain time, then why wouldn't they publicize it like, apparently, they do in Britain?
I think that they did publicize the last two top prize winners.

At least, I remember hearing that they were going to win before they actually won.
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  #33  
Old 04-26-2001, 06:15 AM
Jeremy's Evil Twin Jeremy's Evil Twin is offline
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There was another winner last week? Aw sucks, I missed it...

I don't think the game is rigged, although I noticed they have really dumbed down the questions up to the $32K level. I play along at home and normally can get up to the $125-250K easily, meaning I know the answers or am convinced that the audience and/or phone a friend would have known the answer. I really need to get on that show.

handy: You're right about the Nixon question (that Carpenter guy was one smart cookie, and smug and conceited as well), but the 93 million miles to the sun wasn't a million dollar question, though. I did nearly piss myself when the guy who won the $2M+ jackpot got as the $500,000 question, "What is the circumference of the Earth at the equator?" Plus I knew the *first* million dollar question asked, "What artist won the first hard rock/heavy metal Grammy?" He didn't know it. (Hint: it's NOT Metallica!)

The two jackpot winners who knew each other doesn't surprise me at all. If the show were rigged, no way would they have tried to pull that off...
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  #34  
Old 04-26-2001, 08:06 AM
Milossarian Milossarian is offline
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Mahaloth said:
Quote:
Did anyone think the show was rigged when no one won for 9 straight months? Or was the building up of tension part of the conspiracy?

Are you referring to when the show first started?

Because I did find that ... interesting.

No one could reach the $1 million plateau for some time. Then, near the end of the run for the first series of shows, a guy breezed to the million (remember? He used his phone-a-friend on the last question, just to let his parents know he was going to win).

For whatever this unscientific evidence is worth - prior to that time, I (who am better-than-average at trivia, but certainly nothing to write home about) would invariably get stumped playing along with every round. When that guy won, like him, I breezed through the questions, and also would have never had to use even a 50-50 or Ask the Audience. People I was watching with all remarked it seemed easier than some sets of questions had been, especially at the higher money levels.
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  #35  
Old 05-01-2001, 12:12 AM
eunoia eunoia is offline
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I agree with Milossarian, no proof, but a really strong gut feeling. I'm no astorian, but I play NTN decently, heh heh.
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