Dr. Kevin Olmstead (born March 20, 1959), an environmental engineer from Ann Arbor, Michigan, was a contestant on season 1 of the U.S. version of the show on April 6 & 10, 2001. He became the seventh contestant who won the top prize, which was $2,180,000, at the time a record for highest total winnings on a game show. (Millionaire at this time had an increasing bonus of $10,000 on top of the $1 million top prize for each episode there was no millionaire, as there had been a drought of top-prize winners for five months.)
Before appearing on Millionaire, Kevin was a 2-time Jeopardy! champion in 1994, winning $25,901. He defeated Larry Shackley in Larry's third game.
What comic strip character has the same first name as its creator?
• A: Dilbert
• B: Hagar
• C: Cathy
• D: Calvin
$64,000 (11 of 15) - Not Timed
Which of the following trees is not considered a conifer? '50:50' lifeline used
• A: Pine
• B: Cedar
• C: Cypress
• D: Beech
Kevin was not sure, so he decided to use his 50:50, eliminating A and C. He then decided to go for D: Beech and won $64,000.
$125,000 (12 of 15) - Not Timed
In the 1950s and 1960s, Quincy Jones directed orchestras for which of these crooners?
• A: Frank Sinatra
• B: Jerry Vale
• C: Bing Crosby
• D: Perry Como
$250,000 (13 of 15) - Not Timed
What writer collaborated with photographer Walker Evans on the 1941 book "Let Us Praise Now Famous Men"? 'Phone-a-Friend' lifeline used
• A: John Dos Passos
• B: John Steinbeck
• C: James Agee
• D: Upton Sinclair
Kevin did not know, so he decided to call Eric, an archivist, who was absolutely certain it was James Agee. Kevin went with his answer and won $250,000.
$500,000 (14 of 15) - Not Timed
The Earth's circumference at the equator is how many miles?
• A: 18,500
• B: 24,900
• C: 32,700
• D: 41,400
Kevin immediately made B his final answer.
After winning $500,000 Kevin became the third person to face the jackpot question, after Gary Gambino ($2,000,000) and David Stewart ($2,140,000). Kevin would play for $2,180,000.
$2,180,000 (15 of 15) - Not Timed
Who is credited with inventing the first mass-produced helicopter?
• A: Igor Sikorsky
• B: Elmer Sperry
• C: Ferdinand von Zeppelin
• D: Gottlieb Daimler
He almost immediately remembered it was Sikorsky's helicopter, so he went with A: Igor Sikorsky, winning $2,180,000, a record for highest total winnings on a game show at the time, and he ended the drought of no million dollar winners.
Kevin Olmstead: Millionaire
His record lasted about three and a half years until it was broken in November 2004 by Ken Jennings on Jeopardy!. Olmstead still holds the record for the highest game show earnings on a U.S. network, since Jennings won on a syndicated game show. Olmstead currently ranks third behind Jennings and Brad Rutter, whose $2,000,000 (US) win in the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions in 2005 catapulted him to a then record total (which Jennings surpassed in 2008).
Olmstead is an adviser for the University of Michigan's quiz bowl team and a founding member of National Academic Quiz Tournaments, a company that runs quiz bowl national championship tournaments at the high school and college levels. He is also a member of Toastmasters International, having obtained the Distinguished Toastmaster award, and is a past Division Governor, the 2006-2007 Public Relations Officer of District 28 Toastmasters, and the 2007-2008 Lieutenant Governor Education for District 28. He was the 2008-2009 District Governor for District 28, whose theme for the year was "Join The Team", and led to district to Distinguished District status, ranking number 14 in the world (out of 81 districts).
One member of a quiz bowl team Olmstead advised was David Goodman, another Millionaire top prize winner. Goodman had made a phone call to Olmstead during the filming of the show just before he was going for $2,180,000.
On an episode of the game show 1 vs. 100, which aired on October 27, 2006, Olmstead appeared in the mob of 100 along with top prize winners John Carpenter and Nancy Christy opposing the singular contestant. All three were eliminated without winning any money.
Olmstead was a contestant on the Grand Slam game show tournament, but was defeated by The Weakest Link champion Michelle Kitt in the opening round.