UPDATE: This story was updated to note that North will appear on the show a second time.
Sophomore Dan North jolted awake in a sweat.
After once again dreaming that he had gotten the very first question wrong, North was growing increasingly worried that his recurring nightmare might just become a reality.
Earlier this summer, North drove to Boston on a whim to audition for the show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" What he never imagined was that he would actually be chosen as a contestant on the show.
“One girl I met told me it was her 17th time auditioning," he said. "There are 175 shows per year. Once you think about the hundreds of people who auditioned in Boston that day, multiplied by auditions held in every other city, as well as the countless auditions in Las Vegas—I wasn’t holding my breath for anything. But hey, why not me?”
After a lengthy test and set of two interviews—which North said are used to make sure the auditionee has a personality and isn’t just a book worm—the producers clearly agreed, why not him?
Several weeks later, North received the news that he was chosen as a contestant.
“I was at work when I got the call. I immediately told my coworker Ali, and she ran out into the restaurant and told literally everyone there," he said. "From then on, my manager would always come up to the tables I was covering and tell them I was about to be a millionaire."
After posting to Facebook and publicizing the news of his upcoming TV appearance, North knew he had better start preparing.
“I just didn’t want to bomb—if I did, everyone would know!” he said.
Although June is typically not a stressful time for most college students, North spent several weeks of his summer diving into his preparation, studying everything from history to linguistics to pop culture. Most importantly, North took the time to watch every episode from each previous season of the show.
“I took it seriously…when I was watching old shows, I would always pause it before the contestant gave the answer and work through the question myself,” he said. “Anytime my mom or someone would come in the room, I would quiet them down.”
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North had been a fan of the show from a young age, occasionally even pretending to be sick so he could stay home from school and relish the daytime television. His mom, Julie North, was the one who initially introduced him to the show.
“When I told my family I was going to be a contestant, they were obviously in disbelief,” he said. "And then my mom immediately asked if I planned to take her as my plus-one lifeline. She already assumed the answer was yes.”
On July 18th, the time had finally come for North and his mother to fly to Las Vegas to begin filming. Although North described the entire experience as surreal, he highlighted the time he spent with Chris Harrison as part of his favorite.
“The best way to describe Chris Harrison is easy-going. He knows how to talk to contestants and really calms you down,” North said. “After all, you’re worried that any mistake you make is about to be aired on national television.”
Is Dan North a millionaire or was his nightmare a reality? His will be broadcast Tuesday on ABC TV at 2 p.m.