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Millionaire Report from $64,000 Winner, Lynn Kelly

I love games, always have. What a perfect thing, to do something I love and maybe get some money by doing it.

I was on $20,000 Pyramid in 1977 and then on Wheel of Fortune in 1990. After that, there really were no game shows that appealed to me and I figured I was getting too old anyway...... until Regis started talking about this new British show.

I tuned in from day one. I quickly decided I was not smart enough to get on and just enjoyed the show when it came on. My husband, however had different ideas. He thought I could do well from the very first show. We would watch together and he would point out how many of the FF I knew and how many of the stacks I could get to $32,000 without needing a lifeline.

I was still not convinced. But then, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. We decided I would go to Florida and take care of her and my dad while she was getting treatment. I would be there for 8 weeks. As I was leaving, I was told that I should use the time to practice for Millionaire. He really knows how to be with me and how to have me not resist doing things. So, I said I would do that, but I was not going to play the phone game until I got back (I do have to have some control, you know!). Then there was the ending of the prime time show. The bus tour started. I decided that if they didn't want me on my own, maybe I would have a better chance with my husband, if they were doing couples. He said he would go to Albany with me on September 13.

We did go, we both passed. I thought his interview went better than mine and that he would probably get the post card.

At about 1:30 PM, my cell phone rang. Oh - it was also the day of our 6th wedding anniversary. My husband said "What day is today?" I said "the 21st". He said "What kind of things happen on the 21st?" I said "Don't do this to me, baby, did I get a post card?". He said "You did! You're in!"

I have no recollection of what I did after that. I know I was as excited as I can remember being in my whole life. I did then think to ask if he got one too. And he had also. Then I really lost it. I could stand still I could talk, all I could do was blather.

It was Saturday afternoon in Pennsylvania. I was still flying high. I had no idea where he went. He came back a short time later, with best version of champagne he could find in the boonies in Pa. I think it was some sort of sparkling cider. It tasted good and I was thankful that he wanted to make the moment special.

Then we went bowling, I sucked and I didn't care, I had a POST CARD!!!!

It was so great to be there, in the green room, soaking it all up without the pressure that goes along with knowing I might be next. I got to develop a strategy I would use when I returned.

I also decided that I was going to put myself in the hands of karma and faith (whatever that means). I decided that I was not going to get called, until the perfect stack for me was in the hopper. I was not going to try to force anything. I trusted it would all work out.

The day of taping ended, with the last person in the hot seat. We would be coming back after Thanksgiving to tape our show. It also happened to be the day before my husband was scheduled to tape.

It was a much easier day for the returning contestants. We didn't have to leave the hotel until 11:30AM. I was rested and ready to go. And this time, I knew I would go.

The new group had 2 interesting characters. There was this old guy, who looked like Santa Claus, after a long illness. There was a younger guy who seemed to have some sort of social impairment, a funny walk and doofy speech pattern.

Those two guys separated themselves from the rest of the group. They sat over on the couches against the wall. They did not seem to pay attention to the happenings in the studio. Santa Claus seemed to be sleeping. At one point, I said "Wow, look at this, it amazing people can be so calm that they are sleeping." Santa did hear that and said that he hadn't slept in years and he was tired.

Each time someone exited the hot seat, within a minute, the green room door would open and someone's name would be said. They went through Mary and Darryl and Ellis. When they came to get Ellis, they broke the pattern and told Morris that he would be after Ellis. I, of course, knew I was after Morris. The last in my group.

When Ellis got into the hot seat, they came to get Morris. Then I started pacing. I noticed that I was not nervous, I was very excited. I was ready for the culmination to happen.

Ellis finished and I stood up and was ready. In my excitement, I had failed to recognized that Ellis had finished at the buzzer and that there was a break between shows. I heard my self singing a song out loud, much to the chagrin of all still in the green room. "Come and get me, I gotta pee." I did it in a sing songy tune.

Morris and Meredith walked out and Morris was in the hot seat. I was getting miked and chatting with the mike guy and the other staffers. When I know Morris was gonna be done, I took my pulse. My resting heart rate is 45, I was clocking in at 62. I was calm and ready and very excited.

As I was walking out to greet Meredith, one of the things that had me so calm, was I knew I was not alone. I knew I had the audience, to help with the all of that music stuff I don't know. I knew I had my PaFs. I had 5 very different people, all of who were experts in different fields and whom I trusted totally. The process to pick my Phone a Friends was way more far-reaching and wide than I had ever thought it would be.

When I posted that I had gotten the call, I was overwhelmed by the support, enthusiasm and offers I got from people who wanted to help me in my quest. I stopped counting at 28 people who offered. It literally was too much for me to take in. I started crying, the moved kind of crying, and couldn't stop. Every time I talked or thought about the huge amount of backing I had on the bored, I could not wrap my brain around it. I felt a bit like Sally Field "You like me, you really, really like me." While I am typing this, I am getting back to that feeling and have a hard time staying there.

So, I am walking out to greet Meredith. Tanya (the wonderful stage manager) had told us that once she tells us to go - go and don't stop walking. The really strange thing is, as you walk out, Meredith's back is to you. We were told not to be worried about that, that she would turn around in plenty of time to greet us. She also told us that we will want to stop or slow down as we get closer to her back and if we did, they would have to stop tape and she would slap us up side the head.

Out I go, and sure enough, there is her back. I keep saying to myself "Don't stop, don't slow down, she will turn around." It seemed like forever before I got to the raised area of the stage. Sure enough, just as I was sure Tanya was wrong, Meredith turned around the greet me.

My best friend, Amy and her husband, Steve were in the audience. Amy is very similar to me, it is hard to be with the two of us at the same time. I asked her to do many things for me while I was in the hot seat. I asked her to:

1. Write down the time my rear end hit the hot seat and the time I got up. I wanted to see how close the timing was for calling my PaFs. I got in the hot seat at 5:25 and left at 5:46.

2. Yell so that I knew where she was. If you haven't figured it out already, I have a thing about control and knowing. I knew I would be calmed by knowing where she was.

3. Write down all of my questions. Many people had said that they could not reconstruct their stack completely. I knew I would be waiting a long time to see my show and wanted to remember each question.

I had no trouble getting into the chair. Many in my group were worried about that and didn't want to look clumsy at they entered the chair. I just suddenly found myself in the chair.

I remember Meredith asking me if I knew the rules and the lifelines and if I was ready. I was!

The questions come up on the screen one word at a time. It seems like they take a long time to appear, maybe they don't and it was all in slow motion for me, I don't know. The choices also seem to take forever.

My pattern seemed to start on the first question. The first few words appeared and I heard the answer in my head. I waited for the answer to appear as a choice and answered. I was determined to never say "final answer" and use any gasp from the audience as a knock up the side of the head.

She asked, I answered. I do not recall saying anything about the question or how I knew or any story for the first few.

I think the $200 question was something about what putting your finger to your lips indicates. I remember putting my finger to my lips and leaning over to Meredith and saying "be quiet". Her eyes got really large, like surprised large and she laughed. I knew we were bonding.

I had planned to make a statement before I answered the $1,000 question. I was going to say "Hot Diggity Dog! I am not going to llama." Then the $1,000 question appeared.

It think Au was the first thing in the question. As soon as I saw it, I heard "okay gold" in my head. I think the first choice was gold, so I was sitting pretty, knowing I was not going to llama. Then the second choice was something, the third something else and then silver. I heard my voice say "Oh, crap!!!! It might be silver!!!". I listened to that voice and then said to myself "It is just hot seat fever speaking, you know this, go with what you know - but don't say the thing about not llaming, because you might."

I answered gold and held my breath.

The next scare came at $4,000. I recall it starting "Another word that means to complain". My voice said "Oh crap! vocabulary, I am sunk." but then I saw mensch. I knew kvetch would be there and I was safe.

The next one, I was also sure I would have taken a guess during his game, but not now. I knew Gerry Garcia was in The Grateful Dead, other than that, I had no idea.

I had always planned to give the audience a clue that I was going to ask them, before I actually did. I thought, that way they would have time to think about it, ask their neighbor if they knew or do whatever they needed to do to get the right answer.

I did the best I could at that and I think they gave me 65%, which was enough for me. Oh - I also knew that Amy knew and she would tell everyone around her what the answer was.

The $16,000 question comes up. I read the movie title "Breaking Away" and my voice says "that was the ballet movie - Boston." Then the choices come up, I don't remember what they were but each one is in the Mid-West. I am thinking, I am sunk. Then Bloomington Indiana is the last choice given. Something happened inside my head - bells went off - really. Voices were yelling - "You read where Mikey was in Bloomington when they filmed this. He posted it on the bored - you read it - It's the bicycle movie!!! Really, it is!"

I had decided that if I had a real reason to think something to be true, even if I wasn't certain, I was going for it. This was not a slam dunk for me, but a risk I was willing to take.

I really exhaled as I knew I would see the $32,000 question with 2 lifelines left. I did not have huge expectations for myself here. My goal was to get to 32. I would be very happy with that. My goal was to guess at 64 and if I was lucky, I could see the 125. I had decided that 64 would thrill me to death.

Then it came - children literature - YIKES!

I had read Goodnight Moon. That was the only one of the books I had read. The other ones meant nothing to me. I knew I would be calling someone. Skoop was my literature PaF. It didn't take me long to decide this probably did not fall into the literature category. It did seem like a slam dunk google to me. Fishie was my google guy and the only one on my PaF list with small children. I knew that if anyone could pull this out for me, it would be Fishie.

I had feared that when I heard any of my PaFs voices, I would cry. Just like my daddy, I am a happy crier. I get moved to tears all the time. Surprisingly enough, I didn't even have to squelch the urge.

This is how I remember it:

I told Fish to search in quotes the first two lines of the book. (well, in the code we had established, I told him that) I then told him that it was a children?s book. Once I finished reading the question, there was maybe 16 seconds left. He asked me to repeat the first 4 words. I looked back on this and realize that his request did not panic me in the least. I heard clearly what he needed and I calmly gave it to him. I just trusted it would be there. I knew from his tone that he had found it on google. I remember telling him I loved him.

Then the geography question. I had just looked at a map that morning and remembered seeing Latvia. Amy and I took golf lessons from a man named Ivar (yes, he is a PGA Pro) who was born in Latvia. I noticed it and thought "Wow - I didn't know it was so close to Finland."

I do not ever recall hearing of Riga. Okay, maybe I don't watch enough Jeopardy. But I did know that Latvia was not landlocked. I had no idea where the other two were and thought Croatia was further south. I thought about just answering Latvia, so that I would have the 50/50 left for the 125, if I was right and realized I did not have enough confidence that it wasn't Lithuania or Estonia.

When Croatia and Latvia were left, I was pretty confident. We do war coverage in our house, life many homes do soap operas. I could not access the capital city of Croatia, but I knew I would recognize it if I saw it.

As I said Latvia, I was pretty sure I was going to see the $125k Question.

I did, didn't know it, would have guessed Cedric, based on nothing. So glad I was unwilling to guess.

I was thrilled and ready to call it a day. Meredith hugged me and she smelled really good.

My 15 minutes is now up. It was a great ride and one that I will hold in my heart forever. Being able to warm the chair for the Millionaire to come was pretty cool too.

Report conducted February 17th 2003.

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