Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Wiki

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (often informally called Millionaire) is an American television game show adapted from the same-titled British program created by David Briggs, Steven Knight and Mike Whitehill and developed for the United States by Michael Davies. The show features a quiz competition with contestants attempting to win a top prize of $1,000,000 by answering a series of multiple-choice questions, usually of increasing difficulty. The program has endured as one of the longest-running and most successful international variants in the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise.

The original U.S. version premiered on ABC on August 16, 1999, as part of a two-week daily special event hosted by Regis Philbin. After this and a second two-week event aired in November 1999, ABC commissioned a regular series that launched on January 18, 2000, and ran until June 27, 2002. Philbin hosted the entire run of the original network series as well as three additional special event series that aired on ABC in 2004 and 2009.

A daily version of Millionaire produced for syndication began airing on September 16, 2002, and was initially hosted by Meredith Vieira. Cedric the Entertainer took over the show in 2013 following Vieira's departure, with Terry Crews replacing him in 2014. The syndicated series' final host was Chris Harrison, who took over from Crews in 2015 and hosted until the show was cancelled, with the finale airing on May 31, 2019. On January 8, 2020, seven months after the cancellation was announced, ABC renewed the show for a twenty-first season, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel (who is also a co-executive producer of the show) with celebrity contestants. The twenty-first season premiered on April 8, 2020, and its success led to the show being renewed for another season.

The show has had numerous format and gameplay changes over its runtime and, since its debut, twelve contestants have answered all questions correctly and won the top prize. As the first U.S. network game show to offer a million-dollar top prize, the show made television history by becoming one of the highest-rated game shows in the history of U.S. television. The U.S. Millionaire won seven Daytime Emmy Awards, and TV Guide ranked it No. 6 in its 2013 list of the 60 greatest game shows of all time.

Game series

Below is the list of seasons:

Season No. of episodes Time of broadcast Length of episode
Primetime version
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 364 August 16, 1999 - June 27, 2002 30-60 minutes
Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire 12 February 22 - May 25, 2004 50 minutes
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 10th Anniversary Primetime Celebration 11 August 9 - 23, 2009 50 minutes
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (2020 season, U.S.) 9 April 8 - June 4, 2020 40 minutes
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (2020-2021 season, U.S.) 16 October 18, 2020 - March 21, 2021 40 minutes
Total Primetime Episodes 412 episodes
Syndicated version
1 195 September 16, 2002 - July 25, 2003 30 minutes
2 195 September 15, 2003 - July 23, 2004 30 minutes
3 195 September 13, 2004 - July 22, 2005 30 minutes
4 175 September 12, 2005 - June 30, 2006 30 minutes
5 175 September 10, 2006 - June 29, 2007 30 minutes
6 175 September 10, 2007 - June 27, 2008 30 minutes
7 175 September 8, 2008 - June 26, 2009 30 minutes
8 175 September 7, 2009 - June 25, 2010 30 minutes
9 170 September 13, 2010 - June 24, 2011 30 minutes
10 170 September 5, 2011 - May 25, 2012 30 minutes
11 175 September 3, 2012 - May 31, 2013 30 minutes
12 160 September 2, 2013 - May 23, 2014 30 minutes
13 175 September 8, 2014 - May 29, 2015 30 minutes
14 175 September 14, 2015 - June 3, 2016 30 minutes
15 175 September 12, 2016 - June 2, 2017 30 minutes
16 175 September 11, 2017 - June 1, 2018 30 minutes
17 175 September 10, 2018 - May 31, 2019 30 minutes
Total Syndicated Episodes 3,010


Primetime version

Regis Philbin hosted the original primetime version.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire debuted in the United States on August 16, 1999 on the ABC television network, and was hosted by television personality Regis Philbin.

The network version, whose episodes were originally shown just a day after their taping in New York, became explosively popular in 2000, and at its peak was airing in prime time four nights a week on ABC. The show was popular enough to find rival networks creating or reincarnating game shows of their own, and created a brief renaissance of sorts for United States based game shows (e.g. Greed, Twenty One, etc.) as well as a flurry of American versions of UK and Australian originals, such as Winning Lines, The Weakest Link, and It's Your Chance of a Lifetime.

ABC used Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in so many prime time slots that when the show's popularity faded by the fall of 2001, the primetime series was cancelled on June 27, 2002. ABC's overall Nielsen Ratings suffered as a result of the show's decline in popularity. Michael Eisner, then CEO of The Walt Disney Company (ABC's parent), a former page at Jeopardy! and The Price Is Right, thought that the show would be successful like many other daytime television shows. However, he had realized too late that a hot show like Millionaire would tire more quickly in prime time than in daytime.[1]

However, to celebrate Millionaire's 10th anniversary, the show returned to ABC prime time in August 2009 with host Regis Philbin for a two week event.

Syndicated version

Meredith Vieira hosted the first 11 syndicated seasons.

In 2002, Disney's Disney-ABC Domestic Television started selling a new version of the show for daily syndication, with a new host, Meredith Vieira (who previously appeared on the nighttime show and won $250,000 during a celebrity week where all the money would go to charities related to victims of 9/11). It was initially proposed and developed under the assumption that the prime time show would still be airing on ABC, but the prime time show was canceled a few months before the syndicated show premiered.

The syndicated version premiered in September 2002, and began airing its fourteenth season on September 14, 2015, and has earned Vieira two Emmies for best game show host.[2] The format is licensed by Sony Pictures Television as part of the acquisition of 2waytraffic in 2008, though the U.S. version is still distributed by Disney.

This version has no Fastest Finger question round, new contestants appear after the previous contestant's game ends.


Potential contestants taking the general-knowledge test.

Unlike the original network version, where aspiring contestants made a phone call, answered a few questions correctly on the phone, and were randomly selected, leading to a Fastest Finger competition to determine the player in the hot seat, the current version uses a more traditional game-show procedure, similar to what is used for most games. This toughens the contestant pool.

Contestants, depending on touring tryouts or tryouts held at ABC's New York studio center, are required to pass a quiz between 30 and 40 questions which is electronically scored.

Contestants who pass the general-knowledge test are then interviewed by production staff. People who impress the production staff the most are later sent a postcard in the mail stating that he/she is in a pool of to-be contestants, which by the producers' discretion are sent to New York for their tapings.[3]

Fill-In Hosts

From 2007 to 2011, guest-hosts have appeared in the second half of each season due to Meredith's busy schedule.


At its core, the game is a quiz competition in which the goal is to correctly answer a series of consecutive multiple-choice questions. However, the format of the show has been overhauled multiple times along its lifetime.

Fastest Finger

A Fastest Finger question in progress.

On all of the ABC versions (including the Super Millionaire spin-off and the 10th Anniversary Celebration), ten contestants competed in a one question playoff, known as the Fastest Finger question, for the right to play the main game. During this round, the host would read one question and four items that had to be arranged in a specific order. Each contestant would try to input the correct order, using keys on the podiums in front of them, with a time limit of 20 seconds. The person who did so correctly in the fastest time would join the host in the Hot Seat and begin the main game.

If two or more contestants tied on time, they would play an additional Fastest Finger question to break the tie. If none of the contestants answer the question correctly, they would all play as many Fastest Fingers questions as needed until at least one contestant gets it right. If the main game ended and there was still time available for another game, the remaining contestants played another Fastest Finger round for a chance to play the main game.

If any of the contestants are visually-impaired, the host would read the question and 4 choices all at once (which are included in an envelope), then repeat the choices after the music began.

This round was removed when the syndicated version premiered in 2002, but, however, it returned in 2004 for the Super Millionaire primetime spin-off and in 2009 for a special two-week event of the 10th Anniversary Celebration primetime shows, this round was removed again for the 2020 primetime reboot due to the lack of audiences because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Main game

Original format

On the primetime version of the show and during the first eight seasons on syndication, a contestant was asked a series of up to 15 consecutive multiple-choice answers of increasing difficulty. Each question had a fixed cash value, and if they were to be answered correctly, the contestant's total winnings would be raised to that value (for example, giving a correct answer to the $500 question would increase their earnings to $500, not by $500); with every subsequent correctly answered question, the contestant gains a set amount of winnings (for example, giving a correct answer to the $1,000 question would cause the contestant to gain $500, as they had previously earned $500 after answering the previous four questions correctly). This would continue until either the contestant answered all 15 questions correctly, miss a question or decide to walk away with all of the money they had received thus far. Any of these conditions being met marked the end of a contestant's game.

A contestant has declared his final answer, marked in orange.

Up until the sixth syndicated season, there was no time limit, meaning that a contestant could take as much time to answer a question as they needed. Most contestants who could not answer a question immediately often thought out loud, and tried to work out the answers by either elimination or other means. However, in order for an answer to be considered valid and binding, the contestant must confirm it is what they intend to play by either stating Final answer, Final, or anything similar. The iconic phrase "Is that your final answer?" exists because of this rule, and is said by the host to a contestant when they seem to be committing to an answer but do not do so correctly. However, during the first five questions, segments of contestants stating that their answers are final are often cut out or even do not happen in order to speed up gameplay.

Questions 5 and 10 were known as milestone questions, because if they were to be answered correctly, they would increase the contestant's minimum payout to the cash value they had attached. If at any moment a contestant gave a wrong answer, their total winnings would be reduced to the cash value attached to the last milestone question correctly answered. For example, on the primetime version, answering questions 7 or 11 incorrectly would reduce a contestant's winnings from $4,000 to $1,000 and from $125,000 to $32,000 (or $100,000 to $25,000 on Seasons 3-8 of the syndicated version). A direct consequence of this was that questions 6 and 11 ($2,000 and $64,000; $50,000 from Seasons 3-8 of the syndicated version) were free shot questions, because they could be answered without losing any accumulated money (as in, they could just take a guess if they don't know it).

Because there is no initial milestone question or bare minimum consolation prize, a contestant could leave empty handed (and many contestants have) if they give a wrong answer to any of the first 5 questions. The first person to do so, Robby Roseman, and his infamous answer to the $100 question "Hannibal crossed the Alps using what animals?" were responsible for the creation of the term llama among the show's fans to refer to any contestant who misses any of the first 5 questions and leaves the show empty-handed.

For celebrities, however, a minimum prize guarantee rule exists in order to ensure that they always leave with at least $32,000 regardless of their performance on the show. Because of this, historically, the producers were much more selective when it came to casting celebrity contestants than they were about casting regular contestants, and the other celebrity contestants that were not playing in the hot seat were allowed to assist the contestant currently playing in the hot seat for the first 10 questions. For Season 1 of the Jimmy Kimmel primetime reboot, because there are no Fastest Finger rounds in this version, akin to the syndicated version, contestants are now allowed to bring a guest companion, "the smartest person they know", to assist them for the first 10 questions; after that, they become the Ask the Guest lifeline if they agree to trade in one of their other unused lifelines after passing the question 10 milestone. Starting in Season 2, the $32,000 minimum prize guarantee and guest assistant rules have been extended to essential workers and small business workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the producers are now much more selective about casting regular contestants, as well as celebrity contestants, because the last thing they want is for any contestant, celebrity or regular, to flunk out on one of the first 5 questions, especially the $100 question (similar to the way Robby Roseman and Brian Fodera did in the classic primetime era), even if they are still guaranteed $32,000 regardless.

Clock format

Ken Basin's Million Dollar Question.

Main Article: Clock Format

Clock format being played

At the start of the seventh syndicated season, time limits were introduced to each question. The host would read a question, and as the four answers appear simultaneously, the clock would start ticking down, even while the host is reading the four possible choices. The contestant is not required to wait for the host to read all the answers, they can commit to an answer as soon as it appears (Alan Carver being the most notable example).

Contestants had up to 15 seconds to answer questions one through five, up to 30 seconds for questions six through ten, and up to 45 seconds for questions eleven through fifteen. However, any unused time from the first fourteen questions was added to the clock during the last question, giving contestants much more time to think through the million dollar question. If a contestant runs out of time before committing to an answer, they are forced to walk away with the winnings they had until that point, unless certain conditions are met.

During this format, contestants had access to a revamped money tree, that presented them the categories for all of the questions they had yet to answer. Also introduced during this era were Celebrity questions. Most often found in mid-tier questions, these were provided by notable individuals whose identities were not revealed until the contestant reached their special questions. Barring a few other exceptions, the clock format was identical to the original format in every other way.

Shuffle format

These 10 money values were assigned at random to the 10 questions of the Super Mix round before gameplay began.

At the start of the ninth syndicated season, the show was given a complete overhaul. Alongside with the removal of the clock, gameplay was divided into two rounds, Super Mix and Classic Millionaire. During the Super Mix round, a contestant would face 10 questions with a certain money value attached to them. These 10 questions, originally sorted by difficulty, and the 10 money values (ranging from $100 to $25,000) were shuffled before gameplay started (hence the Super Mix name). Contestants were aware of the order in which the questions were shuffled (as they could look at the categories before and after the shuffle), but were not told the money values behind a question.

Correctly answering a question added the money value of the question to a contestant's bank; but, answering it incorrectly dropped the contestant's winnings to a consolation prize of $1,000 and meant their elimination from the game. A contestant who decided to walk away during this round would only take half of whatever they had banked up until that moment.

Additionally, a contestant could also decide to jump a question, provided that they had not used all of their allocated jumps (two for Seasons 9 through 12, one for Season 13). When a contestant jumped a question, the correct answer was revealed, alongside with the money value behind the question. This money value was forfeited, but the contestant was allowed to keep playing. During this round, a contestant could bank up to $68,600 by answering all of the 10 questions correctly and not jumping any of them.

Josina Reaves has just jumped the $500,000 question. She was shown the correct answer and was allowed to see the next question, worth $1,000,000.

After getting through the 10 questions in the Super Mix round (either by correctly answering the tenth Super Mix question or by jumping it), the contestant entered the Classic Millionaire round, in which they would face 4 non-categorized questions worth $100,000, $250,000, $500,000 and $1,000,000 in that order. Unlike the previous round, the questions were of increasing difficulty, and answering a question correctly would only increase their bank contents up to the money value of the question. Furthermore, a contestant could walk away with the full contents of their bank during this round before commiting to an answer (even before answering the $100,000 question), but answering incorrectly any of the final four questions eliminated them from the game and reduced their bank contents back down to a safety net of $25,000. A contestant could also jump a question during this round, provided they had not used all of their allocated jumps and that they were not trying to jump the last question. Jumping a question this round also forfeited the money value behind a question, but meant that the contestant could attempt to answer a higher-valued question.

Who Wants to Be a Thousandaire?

Team Millionaire

Faster Feet

During this era, Double Your Money Weeks were introduced. Contestants who played during these weeks had a randomly chosen question from the Super Mix round have its money value doubled (the Double Money question). They were made aware of the position of this question before gameplay started, but were not told the value it contained until they had correctly answered the question. If a contestant decided to jump the Double Money question, this doubled value would be revealed to the contestant and be forfeited, and the contestant would be given no additional Double Money questions. During a Double Your Money week, a contestant could bank up to $93,600 during the Super Mix round by answering all 10 questions correctly and having had their $25,000 question doubled in value.

In 2010, audience games Who Wants to Be a Thousandaire? (in 2010-2013 — The $1,000 Question or $1,000 Question Game) was introduced. In 2014, Fastest Feet and Team Millionaire games took place.

2015-2019 retro format

A contestant has just correctly answered the tenth question and acquired the second safety net. He could no longer walk away with anything less than $50,000.

At the start of the fourteenth syndicated season, the show saw another major overhaul, bringing it back closer to its roots. Gameplay is now similar to the format used in primetime and early syndication: a contestant faces a number of questions of increasing difficulty and money value; if they answer a question correctly, their bank would increase to the money value attached to the question, but if they answer it incorrectly, the contents of their bank would drop down to the value attached to the last safety net they had passed and mean their elimination from the game; in addition, a contestant could walk away with the full contents of their bank at any point during the game before committing to an answer.

Unlike the original format, a contestant only needs to correctly answer 14 questions (instead of 15) to win the top prize; and a contestant who is supposed to leave with nothing because they had answered a question incorrectly before acquiring the first safety net will be given a $1,000 consolation prize, although the host does not usually indicate this fact to the contestants while explaining the rules (in the original format, a contestant would leave empty-handed if they answer any question incorrectly before passing the first milestone and they would not be awarded any consolation money)[4].

Audience contestant minigames

During the later seasons of the syndicated series, if there was not enough time left in the episode for a regular contestant's full game, at the end of the episode, the show would typically play an audience contestant minigame, in which an audience member was randomly selected for a chance to win $1,000 by simply answering one question correctly without any lifelines.


Before gameplay begins, contestants are given a selection of lifelines, designed to help a contestant who gets stuck at a particular question. Barring the Double Dip lifeline, contestants are free to use as many lifelines as they want in a particular question and are free to walk away from a question even after using them. However, contestants are only able to use each lifeline once, with the notable exception of the Jump the Question lifeline during the [[1]]/14 seasons, as contestants were able to use this lifeline twice.

In the original primetime version and during the first six seasons on syndication, contestants were given three lifelines:

  • 50:50: the computer would remove two wrong answers among the four possible choices, meaning that the contestant was left with the correct answer and one remaining wrong answer. Originally, the two wrong answers that were removed were predetermined by the production staff. This however changed later, and the two wrong answers were selected at random.
  • Phone-A-Friend: the contestant could call one of five (three from the seventh syndicated season onwards) predetermined friends anywhere on the United States and would read them the question and the possible choices. The friend was given 30 seconds to try and answer the question, after which the call would be cut-off. However, the contestant was not forced to commit to the answer that their friend gave.
  • Ask the Audience: the studio audience members were given 20 seconds to indicate the answer they thought was correct using an electronic keypad. The results were then tallied and shown to the contestant.

At the start of the third syndicated season, an additional lifeline was given to the contestants, provided that they had correctly answered the second milestone question:

  • Switch the Question: the computer would switch the current question for another one worth the same money value. The contestant would be shown the correct answer of the old question before being shown the replacement one. Any lifelines used in the old question were not reinstated, and a contestant could not switch back to the original question.

At the start of the seventh syndicated season (the first Clock Format season), the Switch the Question and 50:50 lifelines were eliminated. In their place, the contestant was given two new lifelines:

  • Double Dip: originally available in the Super Millionaire spin-off, a contestant was given two shots at answering a question, i.e., if their first locked in answer turned to be incorrect, they were given another chance at answering the question. The Double Dip lifeline was not restored if a contestant's first locked in answer turned out to be correct. Unique to any lifeline in the series, after deciding to use the lifeline, the contestant was not able to use any other lifelines or walk away, so they were forced to either use all of their attempts or let the clock run down to zero. Should the latter happen, the contestant will be considered to have given an incorrect answer and they would be eliminated from their game, dropping their winnings to the last safe haven they had achieved.
  • Ask the Expert: similar to the Three Wise Men lifeline in the Super Millionaire spin-off, a contestant was able to talk with an expert (usually a former Millionaire contestant or a celebrity) through a Skype video-call in order to determine the correct answer. If the Skype video-call failed, the contestant and the expert would communicate through a regular phone call. Unlike the Three Wise Men lifeline, a contestant was allowed to talk to the expert for as long as they wished. Similar to the Switch the Question lifeline, this lifeline originally was not available at the start of the game, and was only given to a contestant after they had correctly answered the first milestone question.

During the Clock Format era, the question clock would stop whenever the contestant stated that they would use a lifeline (and the contestant could actually use it), and would only resume once the results of the lifeline were let known to the contestant. However, if a contestant used their Double Dip lifeline and missed their first attempt, the clock would restart after the attempt was revealed to be incorrect.

On the episode broadcast on January 11, 2010, midway through the eighth season, the production staff announced that the Phone-A-Friend lifeline would be no longer offered to contestants, due to the rising number of phone-a-friends using Internet web searches or other media in order to unfairly aid a player, which according to the show, was against the original intent of the lifeline. In return, the Ask the Expert lifeline was given to a contestant before gameplay started, and would no longer need to earn it.

At the start of the syndicated Season 9 (the first shuffle format season), the Double Dip and Ask the Expert lifelines were eliminated. In their place, the contestant was given two Jump the Question lifelines:

  • Jump the Question: the contestant would be able to skip the current question and see the following one, continuing gameplay as normal but forfeiting the money value attached to the old question, i.e., if used during the Super Mix round, the money value attached to the question would not be added to a contestant's bank, and if used during the Classic Millionaire round, the contestant's bank contents would remain the same (e.g. a contestant who had banked $68,600 and jumped the $100,000 question would still have $68,600 in their bank). If a contestant jumped the last Super Mix question, the $25,000 Classic Millionaire safety net would be activated as normal.

Beginning with the thirteenth season, one Jump the Question lifeline was eliminated. In its place, the contestant was given a new lifeline:

  • Plus One: Similar to Phone-a-Friend, the contestant would be able to discuss the question with a designated companion (their '+1'), who sat in the studio audience. There was no time limit, and the +1 would stay with the contestant until they had locked in an answer.

During certain Special Weeks (most notably Halloween Weeks), contestants were given one of the following additional lifelines:

  • Crystal Ball: only available during the Super Mix round (and only on the first nine questions), the contestant was shown the money value attached to the current question.
  • Cut the Question: works similarly to Switch the Question (it replaces the current question with a new one). It also maintains the money value of the original question.

Starting in Season 14, the final Jump the Question lifeline was eliminated. In its place, the contestant was given the 50:50 lifeline, which has the same effects as the one available in the primetime and early syndication seasons (it removes two incorrect answers from the current question). Additionally, on weeks that feature the Cut the Question lifeline, it is stated that if a contestant were to use that lifeline, the replacement question would be easier in difficulty than the original question, but that they could only use this lifeline up to the tenth question (the second safety net question).

During the Off to College Week in Season 14, contestants were given an additional lifeline:

  • Extra Help: could only be used after using the Plus One lifeline (but not necessarily during the same question); the contestant would be able to discuss the current question with another companion, similar to Plus One. On weeks featuring this lifeline, when a contestant decides to use the Plus One lifeline, they get to choose which companion gets to come down and help them first.

With the revival of the primetime version of the show, Ask the Audience is eliminated as there will be no audience due to the coronavirus pandemic. Contestants will get this lifeline instead:

  • Ask the Host: Jimmy Kimmel will have unlimited time to talk about what he thinks is the correct answer. After he finishes, the contestant will have to make a decision.

Money Tree

16.08.1999 - 27.06.2002 & 08.04.2020 - 3.21.21 (Primetime); 16.09.2002 - 23.07.2004 (Syndicated)

First money tree.

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 $100 $0 $0 $0
2 $200 $100 $100
3 $300 $200 $200
4 $500 $300 $300
5 $1,000 $500 $500
6 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000 $0
7 $4,000 $2,000 $1,000
8 $8,000 $4,000 $3,000
9 $16,000 $8,000 $7,000
10 $32,000 $16,000 $15,000
11 $64,000 $32,000 $32,000 $0
12 $125,000 $64,000 $32,000
13 $250,000 $125,000 $93,000
14 $500,000 $250,000 $218,000
15 $1,000,000 $500,000 $468,000

09 - 23.08.2009 (Primetime); 13.09.2004-26.06.2009 (Syndicated)

Second money tree.

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 $100 $0 $0 $0
2 $200 $100 $100
3 $300 $200 $200
4 $500 $300 $300
5 $1,000 $500 $500
6 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000 $0
7 $4,000 $2,000 $1,000
8 $8,000 $4,000 $3,000
9 $16,000 $8,000 $7,000
10 $25,000 $16,000 $15,000
11 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $0
12 $100,000 $50,000 $25,000
13 $250,000 $100,000 $75,000
14 $500,000 $250,000 $225,000
15 $1,000,000 $500,000 $475,000

Grand Giveaways Week 5.11.2007 - 9.11.2007 (Syndicated)

Grand Giveaways Week money tree.

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
N/A $1,000 N/A
1 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000 $0
2 $4,000 $2,000 $1,000
3 $8,000 $4,000 $3,000
4 $16,000 $8,000 $7,000
5 $25,000 $16,000 $15,000
6 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $0
7 $100,000 $50,000 $25,000
8 $250,000 $100,000 $75,000
9 $500,000 $250,000 $225,000
10 $1,000,000 $500,000 $475,000

07.09.2009 - 25.06.2010 (Syndicated)

Third money tree.

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 $500 $0 $0 $0
2 $1,000 $500 $500
3 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000
4 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000
5 $5,000 $3,000 $3,000
6 $7,500 $5,000 $5,000 $0
7 $10,000 $7,500 $2,500
8 $12,500 $10,000 $5,000
9 $15,000 $12,500 $7,500
10 $25,000 $15,000 $10,000
11 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $0
12 $100,000 $50,000 $25,000
13 $250,000 $100,000 $75,000
14 $500,000 $250,000 $225,000
15 $1,000,000 $500,000 $475,000

14.09.2015 - 31.05.2019 (Syndicated)

Fourth money tree.

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 $500 $0 $0 $0
2 $1,000 $500 $500
3 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000
4 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000
5 $5,000 $3,000 $3,000
6 $7,000 $5,000 $5,000 $0
7 $10,000 $7,000 $2,000
8 $20,000 $10,000 $5,000
9 $30,000 $20,000 $15,000
10 $50,000 $30,000 $25,000
11 $100,000 $50,000 $50,000 $0
12 $250,000 $100,000 $50,000
13 $500,000 $250,000 $200,000
14 $1,000,000 $500,000 $450,000

Super Millionaire

Main article: Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire

In 2004, Regis Philbin returned to ABC for 12 episodes of a spin-off Millionaire called Who Wants to Be a Super Millionaire, or better known as Super Millionaire, that offered a $10 Million top prize. The show premiered in February 2004 and showed 5 episodes. The show returned later in May 2004 for 7 more episodes.

The money tree went as follows:

Correct Answer
Walk Away
Miss Answer
Amount Lost for a
Wrong Answer
1 $1,000 $0 $0 $0
2 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000
3 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000
4 $4,000 $3,000 $3,000
5 $5,000 $4,000 $4,000
6 $10,000 $5,000 $5,000 $0
7 $20,000 $10,000 $5,000
8 $30,000 $20,000 $15,000
9 $50,000 $30,000 $25,000
10 $100,000 $50,000 $45,000
11 $500,000 $100,000 $100,000 $0
12 $1,000,000 $500,000 $400,000
13 $2,500,000 $1,000,000 $900,000
14 $5,000,000 $2,500,000 $2,400,000
15 $10,000,000 $5,000,000 $4,900,000

Upon correctly answering the 10th question, the contestant received Double Dip and Three Wise Men lifelines, making the Super Millionaire format of the show the one of two versions to eventually offer contestants a maximum of five lifelines (later Kaun Banega Crorepati was the second version and Kto khochet stat' millionerom? was the third version).

On the second episode, Robert Bob-O Essig correctly answered the 12th question and would later walk away with $1,000,000, a feat that would not be matched or surpassed for the rest of Super Millionaire's run. He is the only contestant to win at least $1,000,000 that is not a top prize winner.

Jubilee episodes

  • The 500th episode aired on February 25, 2005. In this period Meredith Vieira has asked over 10,000 questions to 941 contestants in hot seat, who have won a total of $25,936,000.
  • The "1,000th episode" aired on November 9, 2007 (in fact, this is actually the 980th episode).
  • The 1,500th episode aired on November 5, 2010, in which Anne Boyd, Shirley Alfano, and Akiva Fox appeared (winning $100,000, $18,250, and $100,000 respectively).
    • From 2002 until the 1,500th episode, over 2,500 contestants have played Millionaire with Meredith Vieira. Syndicated Millionaire has given away over $60,000,000 since 2002. At the end of each of them there was a stormy celebration of anniversaries with a huge cake.
  • The 2,000th episode aired on October 4, 2013, the 2,500th episode aired on September 30, 2016, and the 3,000th episode aired on May 17, 2019.

Trade Ad


Mad TV

  • In an episode of the show with Lorraine Swanson and (Alex Borstein) fake Regis Philbin.

Fastest Finger Question
Arrange these in desending order:
• A: The Mezozoic Era • B: Turbulence
• C: Lee Iaccoca • D: Athens
6 of 10 contestants answered correctly, but, Lorraine was fastest in 4.90 seconds.
$100 (1 of 15) - Not timed
What does a doorknob open?
"Phone a Friend", "50:50", and "Ask the Audience", lifelines used
• A: A door • B: Matches
• C: Birds • D: Mother
Ask the Audience Results: A: 100% • B: 0% • C: 0% • D: 0%
  • Featuring Jay Leno (Christian Duguay), Lance Bass (Will Sasso), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Mo Collins), and Macy Gray (Debra Wilson) as contestants and with Regis Philbin as the host.
  • With the title called "Who Wants To Be The President?" featuring Jessa Ventura, Alan Keyes, and Al Gore as contestants and with Regis Philbin as the host.

Fastest Finger Question
Put the following U.S. presidents in chronological order.
• A: Abraham Lincoln • B: Theodore Roosevelt
• C: John F. Kennedy • D: George Washington
They goofed off so Regis then instead picked one of them which was Jesse Ventura.
$100 (1 of 15) - Not timed
The Declaration of independence was written in what city?
• A: Chicago • B: (not revealed)
• C: (not revealed) • D: (not revealed)
Jesse Ventura knew it was Chicago and did not want to hear Regis reading the rest of the answers, but answered it wrong, so Al Gore was next. The correct answer not shown is Philadelphia.
$100 (1 of 15) - Not timed
Which of the following is not a character on "'Friends'?
"50:50", "Ask the Audience", and "Phone a Friend" lifelines used
• A: Rachel • B: Ross
• C: Phoebe • D: Moesha
Ask the Audience Results: A: 0% • B: 0% • C: 0% • D: 100%
Al used 50:50, eliminating A & B, asked the audience which gave 100% for D: Moesha, and phoned Alan Keyes, but, Alan misheard Al before he says to Al that the phone was for him. Regis then couldn't handle of what has happened, said that the game is over, and not wishing Jesse, Alan, & Al on "Friends".

Spin City

$100 (1 of 15) - Not Timed
What is the customary amount to tip a waiter?
'50:50' and 'Ask the Audience' lifelines used
• A: 5% • B: 15%
• C: 25% • D: 1,000,000%
Paul didn't know, so he liked to use 50:50, which eliminated A and D, then he also wants to ask the audience. The correct answer that is not revealed in the episode is B: 15%.
$500,000 (14 of 15) - Not Timed
Which Austrian violinist composed forty concertos for the court of the Prince of Sachsen-Hilburghausen?
• A: Ferdinand Furchtegott Huber • B: Balint Bakfarrt
• C: Mily Alexeyevich Balakirez • D: Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf
$1,000,000 (15 of 15) - Not Timed
Which Canadian hockey player was named the Stanley Cup M.V.P. in 1964?
'Phone a Friend' lifeline used
• A: Jaques Plante • B: Jean-Guy Morisette
• C: Jaques Laperierre • D: Jean Beliveau
Paul interrupted Regis says the choices and decides to phone his friend Mike Flaherty. Mike hangs up on Paul to stop the clock at 20 seconds because he has to go. Paul then decides to go with B, then A, then C, then D, then B again, then B again, then A again, then D again, B, C, A, D, B, A, B, D, B, C. Regis tells Paul that if he wasn't sure maybe he shouldn't play, but Paul decides to go with D: Jean Beliveau. He won $1,000,000.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

  • In November, 2000, A clip of Charlie Sheen from his appearance on Millionaire was shown, with this question edited over his real question.

Unspecified amount
Since you joined the cast of "Spin City" a few weeks ago, how many women have you slept with?
• A: 1,000 • B: 5,000
• C: 50,000 • D: 100,000+
Ask the Audience Results: A: 0% • B: 0% • C: 0% • D: 100%
"This would be an absolute guess," Charlie 'said’ (the soundbite was taken from his $125,000 question) before asking the audience. When the results were shown, the crowd erupted in laughter.

Charlie's fake Tonight Show question.

Pawn Stars

  • Austin "Chumlee" Russell from was dreaming himself as a contestant and won $1,000,000 during Meredith Vieira's era.

$1,000,000 (14 of 14) - Not timed
In a popular video game, Ms. Pac-Man gobbles up pellets while pursued by four ghosts named Inky, Binky, Pinky, and what?
• A: Jane • B: Meg
• C: Sue • D: Pam

The Steve Harvey Show

A survey by mattress company Ergoflex revealed that 55 percent of bachelors change what only four time per year?
• A: Their hairstyle • B: Their underwear
• C: Their bedsheets • D: Their pick up lines

Good Morning America

While visiting a Dutch museum in 2013, Justin Bieber caused a controversy when he stated he hoped who would have been a "belieber?"
• A: Eva Brown • B: Anne Frank
• C: Eleanor Roosevelt • D: Rita Hayworth
While at Harvard Law School, what future politician was rejected by an all-female committee selecting male models for a pin-up calendar?
• A: Joe Biden • B: Bill Clinton
• C: Barack Obama • D: Mitt Romney
Filled with journalists, Hollywood luminaries and politicians, the White House Correspondents' Dinner goes by what hashtag on Twitter?
"Ask the Anchors" lifeline used
• A: #NerdProm • B: #BanquetForBores
• C: #GalaForGeeks • D: #Loser'sNightOut
$1,000,000 (4)
Targeting viewers 18-34 years old, in what year will MTV turn 35 and therefore be too old to watch itself?
"Ask the Anchors" lifeline used
• A: 2016 • B: 2020
• C: 2024 • D: 2028

Top Prize Winners

Primetime (Regular winners)

Primetime (Cumulative Jackpot Winners)


Other Millionaires

  • Robert Essig - $1,000,000 (February 22-23, 2004, Super Millionaire)

Penultimate Prize Winners



$250,000 Winners



Top Prize Losers


  • Ken Basin - $25,000 (August 23, 2009) ($1,000,000 question wrong; lost $475,000)


  • Josina Reaves - $25,000 (September 25, 2013) ($1,000,000 question wrong; lost $75,000: she had $100,000 and jumped over the $250K and $500K questions)

Penultimate Prize Losers


  • Mark McDermott - $32,000 (January 13, 2000) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • Lawrence Caplan - $32,000 (January 15, 2000) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • Rudy Reber - $32,000 (February 24, 2000) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • Richard Klimkiewicz - $32,000 (March 2, 2000) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • David Duchovny - $32,000 (May 5, 2000) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • Kati Knudsen - $32,000 (July 30, 2000) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • Nick Meyer - $32,000 (August 17, 2000) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • Raymelle Greening - $32,000 (January 28, 2001) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)


  • Bob Edgeworth - $32,000 (October 25, 2002) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • Rod Martin - $32,000 (June 16, 2003) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $218,000)
  • Ava Johnson - $25,000 (December 2, 2004) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $225,000)
  • Chris Ngoon - $25,000 (October 30, 2013) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $225,000)
  • Justin Peters - $25,000 (February 2, 2015) ($500,000 question wrong; lost $225,000)

$0 Winners


Note: This list only contains contestants who won nothing by giving a wrong answer to questions 1-5. It does not contain other contestants who left with nothing because they failed to win the Fastest Finger First rounds, and therefore failed to get into the hot seat at all.


Note: Contestants from the shuffle format from 2010-2015 leave with $1,000 after answering incorrectly on any of the first ten questions, even if they had less than that amount on their bank upon answering incorrectly. Contestants from Season 14 onwards who answered incorrectly any of the first five questions are still listed below, despite winning a $1,000 consolation prize which is not mentioned on the show (see section above).

Behind the Scenes (syndication)


The director's panel in the syndicated version has great differences, unlike the classical version:

  • On the top left is HOST CHEAT. In the upper right corner is a screen named PROGRAM that displays the image of the host with the camera opposite it. In the lower left corner is the PROMPTER's screen with the "Let's play Who Wants to be a Millionaire!" phrase and in brackets "Read Question" is written. On the bottom right is a screen named GAME BOARD with a logo.



  • In the studio on the right is the cameraman (he is filming the "walking in" scene), on the top there is host's screen, under a prompter, small screens, contestants, host and audience.

Host's Screen

Host's Screen

  • The White box is next question shown (question 3, $2,000).
  • At the bottom of the panel, a current question with the answer options is displayed (question 2, $1,000).
  • The White Rectangle shows the number of the next question and the value of it.
  • And because D is highlighted with green, can say that this scene where host said "Let's play Who Wants to be a Millionaire!" is after this question.
  • Every money value (14 questions) from $500 up to $1,000,000 is shown. The orange rectangles show the thresholds/milestones. The yellow rectangle at $1,000 shows the current question. The grey-yellow box at $500 shows that this question has been answered.
  • The lifelines (3 or 4) are shown above the question layout.
  • The Yellow Box on the top-left with the coins symbol is representing the Players Bank (the contestant answered the 2nd question, so they have $1,000 in the bank).
  • Below it in the Black Box the text "Walk = $1,000" gives information about what the contestants will win if they decide to walk away at this point. Walk = Player's Bank.
  • Below this is a Red Box. It shows the amount of money the contestants will win if they give a wrong answer (Money Value = Last Threshold). And the Black Box below shows the difference between "Player's Bank" and the money of the "Last Threshold".
  • The Blue Box shows the amount of remaining questions on his/her way to the $1,000,000 Top Prize.
  • The Violet Box shows the amount of remaining questions to the next threshold: Threshold = 5 and current question = 2, and 5 - 2 = 3 questions.
  • Above Bank there are informations about the contestants (pre-name, name, info about Plus One, origin).


  1. CNBC
  2. Hollywood.com
  3. NWsource
  4. It is stated in the official ruleset that "If a contestant answers any of questions one (1) through five (5) incorrectly, the game ends and the contestant leaves with the pity-thousand ($1,000) consolation prize award." - Rule 4C at http://millionairetv.dadt.com/official-rules/


  • During the Regis era, contestants could not get up from their seat before he did.
  • When potential contestants were rung back for the qualifying question, the questions were phrased Fastest Finger First-style, and contestants used their phone keypad to dial in (i.e. 1 = A, 2 = B, 3 = C, 4 = D). If they did this correctly three times, they would be put in for a draw to appear on the show.
  • In the Regis era, contestants stayed for three days at the Empire Hotel in New York, and, unusually for US game shows, all travel expenses were paid for by ABC.
  • When contestants brought their guest or Plus One along with them, they would have an assistant producer next to them, and when a new contestant came, the new contestant's guest/Plus One would swap seats with the last one.
  • In the Regis era, two episodes were usually filmed per day. When this happened, a contestant would be encouraged to change their shirt, so as to provide the illusion of a different episode being filmed on a different day.

External links