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Millions on the line for student

Ryan Sydlik | Monday, September 18, 2006

When Laura Keough told her son Dan to earn some cash to supplement his unpaid summer internship, she didn’t mean a million dollars.

But that’s just what the senior stands to win in his appearance on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” today at 12:30 p.m. The show, to be aired on WNDU-TV, was taped on July 25, but Keough was prohibited from disclosing the results.

Keough nabbed his spot on “Millionaire” by applying online while in New York. At the time, he was interning with New Line Cinema to work on the latest Harry Potter movie.

Once initially accepted, Keough had to take a trivia test and undergo interviews to actually earn a spot on the show.

He was one of the 15 out of 100 people who passed both hurdles – a week after, he received a call and was told his show would be July 24.

While the “fastest-finger” question has been eliminated, getting to the “hot seat” is still nerve-racking, Keough said – contestants are given no warning before their names are called.

“They had us all back stage. They call you up randomly, one at a time,” he said.

Keough waited an entire day without being called, and was forced to return to the studio the next day. Then, he finally heard the director say the magic words.

“Dan Keough, you’re up.”

Keough said walking out onto the main stage was an intense experience with flashing lights, loud music and “[host] Meredith Vieira’s make up.”

“They push you out on stage and all of a sudden, you’re on TV,” he said. “…It was the scariest experience of my life, but it was awesome.”

Keough said leaving after the show was even surreal when he walked back out onto the streets of New York. After being thrown into an island of pomp and splendor, he said, he thought it was strange to be back in the real world.

Several people he knew came to New York to watch the taping, including some family members and a friend who was also in the city at the time. However, because Keough was called out a day late, his family unfortunately had to return home due to other work obligations and missed his performance.

Dan Keough’s mother, Laura Keough, said she thought the delay was not necessarily bad – it gave him a chance to relax and settle in more comfortably on the next day.

She said she is very happy for his appearance on the show.

“We are very proud of him,” she said.

She also said her son had been on a TV game show once before in high school, but that it was a locally-produced educational show – a far cry from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

Dan Keough said he prepared for the show by watching old episodes for three weeks and studying other random material that he thought might be useful.

Though the results remain a mystery, Keough did say what he would do with a million dollars if he won out.

“I will pay for my college education and my siblings’ education,” he said.

In addition to hosting “Millionaire,” Vieira recently signed on as co-host of the “Today” show on NBC. Notre Dame graduate Regis Philbin (’53) hosted the show when it debuted in primetime to popular acclaim. Philbin returned once thereafter for a 12-show run on its spinoff, “Who Wants to be a Super Millionaire?”