“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, best friend’s Eddie.
He’s lost his lifelines already, hopin’ for confetti…”

Alright, I’ll admit appearing as a contestant on Millionaire Hot Seat (Channel 9, 5pm weeknights) wasn’t exactly a make or break moment like the one faced by Eminem in 8 Mile.

However, what an experience!

Like you, dear reader, I grew up watching the show that turns ordinary people into cashed-up bogans overnight. The lights, the glamour, the old ladies who don’t know anything about rap music, and the young guys who stuffed up the $100 question with overconfidence. This show has it all!

But while a young Tommy would have been all about the money, much wiser undergraduate Thomas knew that the odds were against him, and so it was all a bit of fun. But hey, who wouldn’t take some cash to go along with the experience too?! The game is probably rigged anyway!

My journey to the Hot Seat started over 5 years ago. By simply taking an online quiz (and doing alright) I put my name in the hat. Fast forward a year and I was taking a trip to Sydney to attend a group audition. A further quiz surprised us all! Luckily, I snuck through to the next round with a quietly impressive 22 out of 30. A quick interview on camera and I was out the door. Surely, I was to be rich and famous soon! The Collingwood-crazed cash-giver was just waiting for me to arrive, right?

Well not exactly – cue the 4 year wait…

In September last year, I was recovering from an end-of-season soccer trip in a café in Rosedale when the call came through.

“Hi, this is Suze from Millionaire Hot Seat. Is that Tom?”

I nearly lost my lunch for a fifth time that weekend. This couldn’t be THE Millionaire Hot Seat?

“We’d like you to come down and play next month for ONE MILLION DOLLARS!”

“Is that ok?”

Hell yes it was ok. But there were more twists to come…


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Oh the calamity! After studying the Canberra Times Sunday Quizzes, after learning to point to every country on the map (happy to prove this sometime if you’re interested), after practicing my best “Lock it in, Eddie”, my plans were on hold.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Behind the scenes, Millionaire Hot Seat was changing. They were giving more money away. They were adding lifelines back in. There were 15 more questions for me to prove my intelligence on national TV!

So, I’m now flying down to Melbourne (care of Channel 9) in the last week of February, still in disbelief of what I’ll be doing the next day.

I leave the hotel at 7.45am sharp, and head to the studio to record 6 episodes for the day. If you’ve ever wondered who the audience is made up of, think contestants, their supporters, and anyone out on nursing home day release!

After makeup and a practice run, my time has come. I’m on the first episode of the day to be filmed. I’m the fourth contestant in my show to have a crack at the money.

Suffice to say when it comes to Fastest Finger First, there’s some wrong answers I should have got right, and some I nailed that for my reputation, I should have got wrong. You be the judge when you watch…

But I finally get to sit in the chair. The big man, Ed, looks at me and says, “The 19th century chemist John McAdam had WHAT named after him…?”

Away I go….


Editor’s note: Tom’s episode of Millionaire Hotseat will appear on Channel 9 tomorrow – Wednesday March 15 at 5pm. Tune in if you want to find out how his time in the Hotseat finishes. A link to the online version of the episode will be included in this article when it appears.