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Law student wins on ‘Millionaire’

Nikki Taylor | Tuesday, September 18, 2007

With the right final answers for host Meredith Vieira and an effective use of her three lifelines, first-year law student Jaclyn Sexton won $25,000 on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” Monday.

A native of North Attleboro, Mass., Sexton participated on the national TV show, testing her knowledge for a shot at the million-dollar top prize. She quit after stalling at the $50,000 question, which asked her how long it would take to type up the Gettysburg Address at a 40-words-per-minute pace.

And while that was tricky, Sexton said getting on the show was more difficult.

Aspiring “Millionaire” contestants first have to sign up online and take a 30-question multiple-choice quiz, Sexton said. If they receive a passing score, the network might then arrange a personal interview.

“They ask questions about what you would do with the winnings and they just want to get an general overview of your personality,” she said. “An application can be on hold for up to two years. Fortunately for me, it was a quick turnaround. The whole process only took two months.”

In that two-month span, Sexton said she prepared for her appearance by brushing up on trivia.

“I played Trivial Pursuit a lot, but other than that, there is no real way to study,” Sexton said.

The only other way to prepare herself for Vieira’s questions was her careful selection of her phone-a-friend lifeline. “Millionaire” allows its contestants one phone call to a friend from a preset list of contacts if the player on the hot seat is stuck on a question.

Sexton said she chose five friends “who knew a lot about things I didn’t.”

“My cousin Steve, the one I used [on the show], knew a lot about geography,” she said.

Since the show was taped in July, Sexton had to sign a confidentiality agreement saying she would not reveal what happened or how much money she won until the episode aired.

Now free from that promise, Sexton said Monday she particularly enjoyed meeting Vieira, who also co-anchors NBC’s “The Today Show,” backstage. She called Vieira “one of the nicest people I’ve ever met” and said the “Millionaire” host sent her a note after Sexton finished taping her segment, thanking her for participating on the show and wishing her good luck at Notre Dame.

Sexton said she would use her winnings to pay for law school.

“Unfortunately, as a law student, I have a lot of debt to pay off,” she said. “I paid off some credit card bills, car payments, things like that.”

And despite not receiving the title of “millionaire” from the show, Sexton had only positive things to say about her experience.

“I had a fantastic time,” she said. “The staff [of the show] was amazing. I’d do it again tomorrow if they would let me.”