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Grad Wants To Be A Millionaire

Grad Wants To Be A MillionaireIn the "Millionaire" hot seat on Thursday night, 1999 Tufts graduate Jonathan Tsilimos got his chance to face off against Regis Philbin on ABC's hit game show.

Boston [03.28.02] Exceeding his expectations, Tufts graduate Jonathan Tsilimos walked off the set of ABC's hit game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" with $64,000 in prize money. Though the experience was "amazing," Tsilimos said he was going to watch the episode carefully when it aired last night, since so much of his experience flew by in a flash.

"I was very happy with it," Tsilimos said, describing his winnings to the Tribune Chronicle -- his hometown newspaper in Warren, Ohio. "I exceeded my expectations. Going in, I said if I got into the hot seat, I'd be happy if I could go away with $32,000."

Though he had come up with a few ways to spend the $1 million in prize money up for grabs -- including paying his college bills, buying a house and taking a trip -- Tsilimos wasn't disappointed to pocket the $64,000.

"The only thing I couldn't do was buy a house," he told the newspaper. "And the experience thing was more valuable than $64,000. That was the thing that I carried away, how amazing an experience and how few people get to go through that. How fortunate I was."

Faced with a tough question about John Glenn's 1962 space flight for $128,000, Tsilimos decided he wouldn't risk his winnings to keep playing the game.

"I went into protective mode, and when I wasn't 100 percent sure, there was really no choice but to walk away," he told the newspaper. "I'm just a student, and that's a lot of money."

The whole experience was a blur.

"I honestly don't remember being on the show, " Tsilimos told the Chronicle, adding, "It was just a blur from the time Regis came out and you met him until the show was over."

The game, says Tsilimos is a lot harder to play than many people think.

"It's probably one of the most nerve wracking things one can be in," he told the Chronicle. "The combination of the chance two in all that money and they fact you're on national TV. ... It's a big difference just from watching. It's easy at home to say 'B' because if you're wrong, so what. You get to answer the next question."

But to even get a chance to compete on the quiz show, the Tufts graduate had to answer quite a few questions during the audition process.

"Tsilimos earned his shot at the show during an October tryout at Boston University," reported the Chronicle. "He was among about 300 people admitted to take a 12-minute, 35-question written test. The 50-60 contestants with high enough scores filled out applications then answered 10 random questions from producers."

But even that wasn't enough to earn a spot on "Millionaire" -- Tsilimos, who will graduate from Boston College Law School in May, had to convince the producers that he really wanted to compete.

"They asked me how bad did I want to be on the show, and I said real bad, and they asked me to stand on one foot, and I stood on one foot," he said. "They asked me to jump up and down, and I jumped up and down."

To help him with some of the show's tougher questions, Tsilimos lined up a couple friends from Tufts as one of his "phone-a-friend" lifelines to provide some extra advice on science, music and sports questions.

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