Hit game show finds contestant in Spandex City
by Staff Writer
A local comic storeowner put his trivia knowledge to the test on the popular television game show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” last month and walked away a bit richer.
Michael Fan, owner of Spandex City, 3611 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road, appeared on the show on CBS Nov. 4 and took home $25,000 in winnings.
“I love the show because when you root for a contestant you aren’t, by default, rooting against someone else,” Fan said.
Fan’s “Millionaire” journey began with luck. On a July evening, he was watching the show with his wife, Baoding, and two children, Talyn and Kiron, when they saw an announcement advertising auditions for the show in Charlotte the following day. Fan decided to give it a shot.
When he arrived at the Metrolina Expo Center, Fan and a couple hundred other hopefuls were given a 30-question, 10-minute multiple-choice test that quizzed their knowledge on a wide variety of random topics. Fan scored high enough on the test to advance him to the interview round of auditions.
During the interview process, the show’s contestant scouts must have seen something special in Fan because he was the only Charlotte hopeful to be picked for a second interview – this time on-camera.
“I think they liked the fact that I own a comic store,” Fan said. “I bet they probably thought that it was a fun, unique occupation. I’m sure they interview a lot of lawyers, consultants and such.”
A week after the audition, Fan received a postcard in the mail from “Millionaire” producers informing him that he had been selected for the contestant pool, meaning he could be chosen to go on the show any time during the next year-and-a-half. If producers don’t select a potential contestant during that time period, he or she has to audition again to be picked.
Fan, however, only had to wait a few months before receiving a call from producers asking him to fly to New York City the following week. Making the call to travel to New York for the show’s taping proved to be a big decision. Producers don’t pay for contestants’ travel expenses, so a missed question early on could have meant Fan and his family would have lost money on the whole experience.
But he decided to make the trip anyway, along with his children, while his wife stayed home to manage and run the shop.
“I was pretty nervous,” Fan said. “It’s very different sitting at home and kind of knowing the answers and usually getting them right versus knowing that an incorrect answer could cause you to actually lose money.”
Fan did well early. Banking $50,000 before being confronted with a particularly bland topic – laundry.
“On a standard clothing care label, a circle with an X through it is a warning that means what?” The answer: do not dry clean.
Fan decided to walk away with $25,000 – contestants have to cut their winnings in half if they choose to walk. Answering the question incorrectly would have reduced his winnings to only $1,000.
Fan said he plans to use the money to cover a few longstanding expenses, help support Spandex City and take his family on a vacation to Florida.