On August 16, 1999, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” debuted on American television. ABC picked Regis Philbin to host the show. The program featured a quiz competition where each contestant had to correctly answer a series of 15 questions of increasing difficulty. One form of assistance was the “lifeline.” The contestant had a limited number of lifelines available in each round – and they could opt to have help – by calling their lifeline.
In early 2000, yours truly served as a lifeline for the son of friends from our church. The topic for which I was to be a lifeline – if that topic was chosen – was “world currency.” On the given evening, I stayed in my office rather than go home. In anticipation of the possible “call” (there was no guarantee I would be needed) I taped maps, charts, lists, and pictures all over my office. Ever the Boy Scout – I was prepared.
As the show started, I had a call from an ABC representative. I was told that if I got “the call” I would be talking with Regis Philbin first. AND I was instructed (probably four or five times) that “you are NOT to make any small talk with Regis.” I said I understood and the call ended. Minutes passed. What seemed like hours. And then . . . .
RING. . . . RING. . . I answered “Hello Scott – this is Regis Philbin. I’m here with your friend who needs some help with a question.” And my friend came on – “Scott – the question is – what metallic component is dominant in the United States nickel. Is it A) Iron B) Zinc C) Aluminum or D) Copper.” None of the maps, charts, lists or pictures addressed this question. And I began to perspire. It couldn’t be iron. It would rust. Aluminum – no. Copper was the penny. And I said “Zinc.”
The answer was D) Copper. If you ever want to get a smile from my family members, just say “duhhhhhh zinc.”