Who Wants to be a Millionaire USA question

I heard that some guy won the million on the US version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He got all the way to the last question without using any lifelines then decided to use his phone a friend on the last question. He rang his dad and said:

“Hey, guess what dad, I’ve won a million bucks”

ie he didn’t even bother to ask his dad the question because he knew the answer. True?

Yes, it’s a true story. That was the first guy who won the million (several years back), the one who was an IRS agent.

If you’re interested, there’s no shortage of info about the guy on the web. His name is John Carpenter. From one of the websites I found:



Wasn’t that the one where the million dollar question was, “What was the first computer bug?” Annoyed me how easy it was (for me anyway). I got it without even hearing the multiple choices (it was a moth found fried in a circuitboard by Adm. Grace Hopper)…

I remember watching this show. The million dollar question was “How far is the Sun from the Earth?” (I am paraphrasing, but that was the jist of it).

Sheesh! I knew the answer without even needing the four choices: 97 million miles. He did, too. Does not seem the kind of intense, difficult question that should be the top prize.

They were dying to give away a million bucks! No one had won a million dollars before, so I understand the publicity value to the show in having someone finally win the top prize, but give me a break!

The $500,000 question was not much harder: Which US President said “Sock It To Me” on the comedy show Laugh-In? Another one I didn’t need the choices to know it was Richard Nixon, and neither did he.

The questions have since gotten much harder.

Ummm… it’s 93 million miles.


Well, all the right information is in this thread, but it’s matched up to the wrong players.

John Carpenter was the first American “Millionaire” winner. He used no lifelines on the first fourteen questions, then used the Phone-a-Friend to call his dad on the fifteenth. His million dollar question was: “Which American President appeared on the television series Laugh-In?”

Dan Blonsky was the second to win. His million dollar question was: “The Earth is how many miles away from the sun?” Joe Trela won the top prize third, on the computer bug question.