Old Town woman to compete on ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire’

Posted April 26, 2011, at 7:32 p.m.
Billie Johnston of Old Town will compete on "Who wants to be a Millionaire?"
Photo courtesy of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”
Billie Johnston of Old Town will compete on "Who wants to be a Millionaire?"
Billie Johnston (left) and show host Meredith Vieira.
Photo courtesy of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”
Billie Johnston (left) and show host Meredith Vieira.

Billie Johnston of Old Town will compete for $1 million on the hit TV show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, on WLBZ 2 and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28, on WCSH 6.

Johnston, originally from Ellsworth and a 1983 graduate of Ellsworth High School, is a disability claims representative from Old Town. She has tried out for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” off and on for the past 12 years, starting with the prime-time version of the show hosted by Regis Philbin.

“I’ve always been fairly competitive. It’s been years since anybody would play Trivial Pursuit with me,” said Johnston, who calls herself a “game-show junkie.”

She passed a written test, a preliminary interview and a filmed interview before being chosen for a list of possible contestants. When she received a phone call in September and was asked to be a contestant for the October filming, she jumped at the opportunity.

“Everyone tells me I have a bunch of useless stuff rattling in my head and I thought I’d put it to use,” she said.

Her husband, Craig, traveled with her to New York City and sat in the TV show audience as her on-air companion. The couple aspire to visit all 50 states. So far, they’ve visited 26 states, and she’s hoping that her “Millionaire” winnings will enable them to complete the entire list. With a big win on the show, she said, she also would make home improvements and buy a Jeep for her husband.

In its ninth season, “Who Wants To Be a Millionare,” hosted by Meredith Vieira, has a riskier, more exciting format. In previous seasons, contestants worked their way up in monetary reward and question difficulty. The all-new “Millionaire” is divided into two rounds, and the money values attached to questions are shuffled and hidden.

Contestants now accumulate money in their “Millionaire Bank” with every correct answer. If contestants walk away from the game in the first round (questions 1-10), they keep only half of the money in their Millionaire Bank, but if they walk away from the game during the second round (questions 11-14), they get to keep their entire Millionaire Bank.

When uncertain of an answer, they have three lifelines: “Ask the Audience,” during which the audience weighs in on the answer, and two “Jump the Question” lifelines, during which the contestant skips the question and forfeits the money attached to it.

For information about “Millionaire,” go to www.millionairetv.com.

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