The Great American Scream Machine


4. Makin' Moves...and Slumdog Millionaire

So after I had basically exhausted all the money I had made at Delta on rent in NYC and struggling to survive in NYC despite having NO income to speak of....I ended up on food stamps. I remember crying in the stair well that I had to apply for them...but I was broke and desperate to try to get by.  New York is expensive, and I did have a savings when I arrived, but when you don't have money coming in.  

One day I was working at the Wall Street firm, when I found out about auditions for Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  I informed my senior broker that I was going to try out for the show.  I signed up for a half hour time slot and arrived at 5:30 PM.  

When you arrive there are about 150 other people waiting for your time slot as well.  You're herded into a room where you're given a packet in a manila envelope with a number written on the front in a black sharpe.  You open the packet, and there is a test inside.  A 30 question test of random trivia questions.  You have 10 minutes to take the test.  After that time, they collect your packets, and after the producers work their producer magics, they call out numbers for people they find interesting based on their test results.

I didn't have my number called the first time I went for an audition.  That was a long...depressing subway ride back to Queens.  I went back next week for another round with the audition.  The test was the same, but still, they didn't call my number.  I went back the next week for another try.  This time it was a test for a movie edition.  Didn't get my number called.  The next week I went back for another was a different test.  I was nervous going into the test thinking I was probably wasting my time.  I finally got my number called!  

So when they call your number, you meet with a producer.  Some people have their number called, and just have NO personality and get weeded out right then and there.  They asked me what made me different, and I told them that my grandfather was a cowboy from Montana that owned a wild west show, so I often wear cowboy stuff in my real life.  After that stage, they call you back to be interviewed on camera with a producer to see how you do on camera.

You're pretty nervous and aren't expecting a pop quiz.  I knew I had a good chance of getting on the show when the producer asked me---"What artist was responsible for the rose and turquoise periods?" And listed off 4 artists.  I had to rationalize why I thought the artist I was going to select was that person, so I talked my way through the question.  When I finally replied Vincent Van Gogh, the producer asked me how sure I was....I knew I was getting on the show, when I said: "I'll put 5 bucks on it right now."  He told me I was right.  And the interview wrapped up shortly thereafter.

Sometime in mid-July I got a letter from Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  It was a post card saying that I was in the official contestant pool.  Weeks went by without a response.  

I was a hair outside of being COMPLETELY broke at the time.  I had left the Wall Street job and got a job at a Western store in NYC selling cowboy hats and cowboy boots to foreign tourists, and I'd wear my hats and boots around NYC and had a good time reppin' my cowboy roots while still kinda getting over the cluster fuck my life had become.....


It was now September...the date was September 14, 2012 when I decided that I had enough of living in NYC, and I was ready for the next step. My little sister was living in Knoxville doing her MBA at the University of Tennessee.  I threw all my stuff in my crappy old Toyota Camry. And just left. I drove all day and all night. And I got to Knoxville at about 3 in the morning on Saturday.

Knoxville, Tennessee just rejuvenated my spirit, and I went to the game with my sister.  

The Monday after the game...I get a call from Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I had applied for the show FOUR different times while I lived in NYC. And the fourth time I applied...I got an interview. I killed the interview, but had never heard back, so I assumed it was never gonna happen.

I fruck out! I kept saying:"Are you serious?!?!? Oh my God thank you thank you thank you!" to the young lady who called. She said she loves her job when she hears reactions like that.

She said that the show was going to be filmed on Wednesday. It was Monday. And I was 14 hours away. My only option....Megabus.

So I hopped on the Megabus...and stayed in DC on Monday night with one of my fraternity brothers. Tuesday I was heading for NYC. I stayed in a hotel, and Wednesday morning....I was on the show.

Here's my show if you want to see it:[2][3][4]  

So as you can see...I got on the show, and I even said if I won the million, I was going to start a Southern fried chicken restaurant franchise in New York City called "Yankee Doodle Dandy's".

My folks came in to watch my well as my ex-Chinese gf, and I felt like Babe Ruth who just called his shot in the 1932 World Series[5]  . So now I had to do this.

I went elk hunting with my father in Wyoming after I was on the show and got reaquainted with my cowboy roots.

And came back to Knoxville in Novemberish. Got a job at a southern fried chicken restaurant in Knoxville, and learned how to cook as a fry cook. So here I am with a Masters degree from the #1 school in the country, and now I'm working making minimum wage. I worked for 8 months in 2013...I made $6,000 bucks....


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