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Contestant Interview with Nancy Christy

The first female $1,000,000 winner!

Toeth: How long have you been a fan of the show? How long have you been trying to get on the show as a contestant?

Nancy: I loved Millionaire from the first time I saw the prime time version. I've always been pretty good at trivia games, and am fairly competitive. My son and I were watching the game very early in its run and he commented that this one was right up my alley. I started playing the phone game, and actually answered all the questions on several occasions but, alas, never got the return phone call. Then in April of 2001, auditions for the prime time game were held here in Tulsa. I called in for a reservation number and joined several hundred others taking the multiple-choice test. I passed that one, and went through the group interview process. Unfortunately the post card didn't come.

In August 2002 the bus tour came through Tulsa to find contestants for the syndicated version and I joined about 1200 other folks standing in line to take the test one more time. Passed again, and had a fun interview with the staff folks. A week later that magic post card came in the mail, and then I waited four months until THE CALL came in!

Toeth: You were just amazing how you handled your stack of questions, considering you were out of lifelines after $16,000. I know you're a risk-taker, but were there any points in the game where you weren't very sure on an answer and you just decided to take the risk go for it?

Nancy: I wasn't positive on the $64,000 question (Amtrak's Coast Starlight train . . .), but since there is nothing to lose on that one there was no way I was NOT going to take a shot. They edited out my thought process as I literally drew a map of the U.S. in the air with my hands, trying to picture the four options.

The only one I felt I took a real risk on was the $500,000 question (Jorn Utzon designed which architectural landmark?). If I got it wrong I would drop $218,000, but I told myself that $32K was more than I make in a year so I would be OK. At the same time, I had decided going in that if I had some basis for a particular answer -- I would go for it. As I said on the air, the name was Scandinavian (I actually said "Norwegian", but my brain knew what I meant!), and I was familiar with Danish-type design and its clean lines.

And really, how often does anyone get to sit in the hot seat and have the opportunity to win that kind of money?

Toeth: It may have been a risk, but it oviously paid off.

Did the atmosphere (lights and music) of the show interfere with your consideration of the answers?

Nancy: When I used my Phone a Friend on the $16,000 question, I was really using it for a mental break. My first instinct on seeing the question actually turned out to be the correct answer, but I overthought and psyched myself out. Since it takes a minute or two to actually connect on the phone call, I used the time to relax and focus my thoughts. When my "brain trust" couldn't give me the answer in time I reverted back to my original thought and decided to trust myself.

I found that, for the most part, I was able to tune out the surroundings. Since the lights make it difficult to see the audience I could almost forget they were there. And, too, Meredith is so charming! She made me feel that I had been invited to her living room -- and now she wanted to give me money! People have asked me if I was nervous at the idea of being on national TV, but I tell them that I stand in front of 8th graders every day and they are a much tougher audience.

Toeth: What was going through your mind when you saw the million dollar question that you knew cold?

Nancy: All I could think was, "I just won a million dollars!" The questions on Millionaire are so random and varied, and every one of us has gaps in our knowledge. I was incredibly fortunate that the question was one that I had reason to know based on an experience earlier in my life. The other folks in my taping group said they were screaming in the green room, because they could tell from my face that I knew the answer -- and none of them did!

Toeth: Did you have any set goal that you wanted to reach before coming on Millionaire?

Nancy: I didn't really have a particular dollar amount that I was shooting for. Millionaire was flying me to New York, providing a hotel and transportation, and giving me expense money to boot. Anything else was just gravy!

Toeth: Will your new found wealth make your life more fun and comfortable? Any special plans for the money?

Nancy: Most of the money will be invested and provide an income for the rest of my life. I won't be buying a huge house or throwing it away on jewels and furs. The landscaping that I've always wanted is under way, and I'm shopping for a new washer and dryer, and new carpeting. My kids and I have planned a couple of short trips for this summer, and want to get SCUBA certified for a trip to Hawaii. I'll also be paying someone else to do the housework that I hate to do!

My one big splurge is the new Audi TT Roadster parked in my garage. I've always wanted a sports car, and am thoroughly enjoying tooling around town in it. I've had it less than two weeks and have put almost 600 miles on it. Hop in, put the top down, don the shades and visor . . . and I'm off!

Toeth: Sounds like you're already enjoying your winnings, good for you!

Armand Kachigian, the contestant who was in the hot seat right after your big win, cruised right up to another $1,000,000 question. I understand you had dinner with him the night before, it was incredible how close it came to back-to-back millionaires. Do you think your luck rubbed off?

Nancy: Armand is a pretty bright guy, and I don't think he needed much luck to do well on the show! Several members of our group went to dinner together after our Monday taping. There was a lot of laughter and fun taking place around that table. Armand and two others of our group became 'holdovers' and finished their segments the next day, but I don't have any idea how the two did because their appearances were bumped when my last two questions were re-run after Armand's run was complete. I am assuming they will air in July on our original dates. The other six of us were moved up to the May 'Sweeps' after the excitement!

Toeth: Are you a fan of, or have ever tried to get on any other game shows?

Nancy: My mom and I were visiting friends in California in 1986 and thought it would be fun to try out for Wheel of Fortune. I appeared that fall while pregnant with my son. This was during the days when contestants went "shopping" with prize money in each round. We only played three rounds (too much time spent shopping!), and the one time I was on a roll -- knew the answer and was spinning for more $$ -- I hit "Lose a turn" and never got my hands on the wheel again.

I've always wanted to try out for Jeopardy!, but now I'm almost hesitant. After winning the big bucks on Millionaire I don't want to bomb on another show and look like an idiot! I think I'll just rest on my laurels!

Toeth: It's been great talking with you, and congratulations on your big win. Thanks so much for doing the interview!

Nancy: Thanks for the opportunity to share my Millionaire experience!

Interview conducted June 2003.

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