Old Town woman wins $250,000 on ‘Who Wants to Be A Millionaire’

Posted April 28, 2011, at 8:01 p.m.
Billie Johnston of Old Town
Photo courtesy of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”
Billie Johnston of Old Town
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.

OLD TOWN, Maine — Billie Johnston of Old Town correctly answered trivia questions about everything from Gorgonzola cheese to Donkey Kong to win $250,000 on the hit TV show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” on an episode aired Thursday evening, April 28, on WCSH 6.

“Beforehand, in the greenroom, I was very nervous, but once I got out there, everything just went away,” Johnston said. “I was into what was going on, and I didn’t even think about the TV or the cameras or anything else, I just concentrated on the task at hand, and it was a lot of fun — it really was.”

Johnston, originally from Ellsworth and a 1983 graduate of Ellsworth High School, is a disability claims representative from Old Town.

With her “Millionaire” winnings, she plans to buy her husband, Craig, a Jeep, and they’re talking of buying a new house.

Johnston has watched “Jeopardy” and other game shows since she was a child, and has tried out for “Millionaire” off and on for 12 years, starting with the prime-time version of the show hosted by Regis Philbin.

In its ninth season, “Millioniare,” hosted by Meredith Vieira, is divided into two rounds.

Johnston successfully navigated her way through the first round of the game (questions 1-10), in which the money values attached to the questions are shuffled and hidden. She went on to the second round (questions 11-14) with an accumulated “Millionaire Bank” of $43,100 and no lifelines left.

In the second round, she made it all the way up to the $500,000 question (question 14): Who was the only person besides John Hancock to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776?

“I had no idea,” Johnston said. “It wasn’t something I’d ever remembered hearing anywhere. So any guess would have been completely blind.”

Johnston decided not to answer the question and walk away with her Millionaire Bank, which had risen to $250,000. If she had guessed incorrectly on the question, she would have fallen back to $25,000. The correct answer to the $500,000 question: Charles Thomson.

Taping of the episode took place in October. Craig had to work the next day, so they left New York to drive back to Maine just after the big win.

“It’s a surreal experience. I don’t remember any part of the trip until probably we got to Portland,” she said. “We were talking about everything that happened. It was just nonstop excitement.”

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

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