It’s not every day that a college student comes home $25,000 richer. However, that was the case for Matt Scherer, a coaching and administration major and captain of the University of Connecticut hockey team, who was chosen to be on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” which is hosted by Meredith Vieira. Scherer appeared in an episode that aired last week.
Scherer credited his appearance to his girlfriend.
“My girlfriend is a big fan [of the show] and she was trying to figure out how to get me on,” said Scherer. “We were at the mall one rainy afternoon back home in Seattle and saw that they were doing auditions. So we stood in line and I took the test. I passed, and then I went to meet with a producer for a few minutes. They liked what they saw and called me a few weeks later.”
In order to compete on the show, a potential contestant must pass an hour-long test to determine if he or she has enough of the kind of general knowledge required to answer questions correctly on the show. If the person passes the test, they are called in for an interview with a producer.
According to Trish Miller, a publicist for “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” the producers of the show pick people who have memorable personality traits.
“We tend to pick people who would be good with a TV personality,” Miller said. “We pick people from all areas of the country, young and old, and all shapes and sizes. The only requirement is that you have to be 18. When people watch the show we want it to be representative of America.”
It’s not uncommon for college students to be on the show. “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” dedicates a whole week to college student auditions according to Miller. If the producers choose a student, he or she can be called in to be on the show at any time.
When Scherer was called to appear on the show, he was surprised.
“The weirdest thing was I didn’t think anything of auditioning,” he said. “I didn’t need to be standing in line that day, but I’m glad I did.”
When Scherer arrived on the set, he was shown around the studio and introduced to the producers as well as others who work for the network.
“They gave me strategy pointers and that made it less stressful for me when I got up there,” he said. “All the people I met were really nice and well-mannered. It was a pleasure to talking to Meredith. She had a really warm personality.”
Although Scherer was nervous, as the questions continued his level of confidence increased.
Matt used his “Switch The Question” lifeline on the $50,000 question. He answered the new question incorrectly, but still walked away with $25,000 in winnings.
Because the show is pre-taped, he had to keep his victory a secret from everyone except his girlfriend, who was in the audience during the taping of the show.
“With the rules and stipulations, [the show] didn’t air until this past Tuesday and I had to keep it under lock and key,” Scherer said. “I couldn’t say anything to anyone, including my family, for four months. My mom and dad were really busting my chops, but if I told anything about the money or the questions, the money would get voided.”
“I’ve never done anything like this before.” Scherer said. “These things don’t happen to people in my family. It was just an awesome experience that not a lot of people get. It makes for a great ‘hanging-out’ story or something crazy to tell people.”