Paul Reilly wants to be a millionaire.
On Wednesday, auditions for the popular trivia television show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” were held in Charlotte.
The Mooresville resident was one of hundreds of people eager to become a contestant.
For Reilly, the selection process was familiar. He’s auditioned for the show eight times – four times in Charlotte, the rest in places across the country such as Texas and Oklahoma.
Participants lined up as early as 6 a.m. Wednesday at Victory Lane Karting center near Interstate 85 and Statesville Avenue. They took a 10-minute, 30-question multiple choice trivia test. Those who passed scored an interview with show producers.
Reilly passed the test, which he’s done before, and moved on to the interview round.
“This would be a dream come true after a 12-year quest,” he said.
Geoff Rosen, supervising producer for the show, said more than 400 people showed up as of 9 a.m. Wednesday. He expected at least 1,000 to audition before the day ended.
Rosen said producers were looking for contestants who are energetic and relatable.
“We want to give you life-changing money,” he said.
Participants will be notified if they qualified for the show within the next few weeks, he said.
Charlotte is one of eight cities where auditions are being held. The show will begin its 12th season Sept. 2.
The show is hosted by comedian Cedric the Entertainer, who was announced as the new host earlier this year. Past moderators include Meredith Vieira and Regis Philbin.
William Johnson, a resident of Fort Mill, S.C., said he auditioned because he wanted to prove to his children that he could do it.
“You have to sell yourself,” he said.
He said that if he made it on the show, the money would go to maintaining his farm in Chatham County.
“I’m not going out to buy a Lamborghini,” he said.
People are ready to play
Bobby Padgett of Gastonia also auditioned for the show, and he was a contestant on “Jeopardy” in 2002, when he won $19,000.
Padgett, the trivia team coach at Highland School of Technology, a magnet high school in Gastonia, said his strategy is to be charming and persuasive to the producers.
Robert Abbe, an analyst for a software company in Charlotte, said he didn’t tell anyone he was auditioning.
If he won money, Abbe said, he would invest it in his daughter’s education fund and buy a new boat for scuba diving.
“It would be fun to be on TV,” he said. “I will be as incredibly outgoing as possible so they can’t forget me.”
The wedding rings
Reilly, the Mooresville fan, was first introduced to the show when his brother-in-law was a contestant when the show debuted. He met his wife, Suzette, at a trivia get-together to train his friend for the show.
The couple married in 2002 and inscribed “Final Answer,” a term related to the show, on their wedding rings.
“It’s a family event for us to watch ‘Millionaire,’ ” he said, adding they view the show regularly with their two children.
Crampton: 704-358-5112; Twitter: @liz_crampton
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