South Charlotte

Charlotte resident was a 'Millionaire' twice

David Gomez didn't seem like a celebrity when I met him; however he's an experienced television game-show winner.

Gomez was born in Miami. His physician father emigrated from Havana, Cuba, and his mother, a nurse, is from Michigan.

"Everyone expects me to speak Spanish because of my name," Gomez said. "But I don't. I took French in college."

He attended school in Colorado for one year to "try out different weather." Then he returned to Florida to get his marketing/business degree from the University of Miami. Through friends, he met his wife, Halli, and they made a home in Florida.

"We lived through storms and hurricanes knocking out our electricity for periods of time," Gomez said. "When our second son, Riley, was a baby, another huge storm hit. We decided we'd had enough."

Gomez had spent 20 years in the bookselling industry, working for B. Dalton and later as regional manager for Follett Corp. During his travels, Gomez had seen what a lovely city Charlotte is, and in 2006 he moved his family here.

Gomez is now a litigation support manager for a law firm. He and his family live in south Charlotte. They take karate lessons as a family. "My wife and I are both first-degree black belts, and Aidan, 9, almost is."

In 2001, Gomez was a contestant on the television show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." He won $750.

Since he wasn't one of the "big" winners, Gomez was allowed to try out again during subsequent auditions. This past spring, he and several hundred other hopefuls went to the Metrolina Expo Center to audition for the show. Gomez's name was put in the contestant pool and he eventually was called to ABC Studios in New York.

"Everyone affiliated with the show is very nice. They make you feel comfortable," Gomez said.

On Oct. 11, Gomez answered four questions before time ran out. A holdover contestant, he appeared the next day, beginning with a Millionaire Bank of more than $12,000. All the way up to $53,000.00 in winnings, Gomez had the opportunity to win $250,000.

He could walk away with his $53,000, or try for the quarter million. If his answer was incorrect, Gomez would leave with $25,000.

"I thought, if someone told me I had a one in four chance of winning the lottery, I'd take that chance," Gomez said. Unfortunately, he provided an incorrect answer.

"I still won $25,000, though, and that's pretty great," Gomez said. "It was a great experience."