Beacon Falls native Kat Keating may not be a millionaire, but she is $66,500 richer.
Keating, who graduated from Woodland Regional High School, won the money as a contestant on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” earlier this year.
Being a contestant on Millionaire wasn’t even Keating’s idea. It was her father’s. He convinced her to go to a taping of the show while visiting her in New York City.
“I just kind of got into it because I just wanted to keep my dad company,” Keating said.
After the show, Keating, 24, stuck around for the tryouts. She was given a written multiple choice test with trivia questions and a short answer survey about her personality and motivations. Next, she had an interview with the producers and a screen test – all in the same day.
“I feel like they were probably looking for someone who knew the trivia, who had at least sort of interesting things they can talk about and someone who is personable,” Keating said.
After her audition in September, the producers said they would send a post card if she was chosen. Keating was surprised to get a call two weeks later. She never got that post card.
Keating used to watch the show sometimes when Regis Philbin was the host, but she hadn’t seen it since Meredith Vieira took over.
“Obviously, once I found out I was going to be on it, I watched whatever I could get my hands on,” Keating said.
Keating taped the show in early October, but it didn’t air until Dec. 16.
When she arrived at the studio at 7 a.m., Keating and the other 10 contestants taping that day were grilled on the new rules of the show and legal stipulations that they not reveal the outcome until after the show aired.
The contestants got to know each other while sitting around all morning, waiting for their turn in the spotlight. Deprived of cell phones and books, they still managed to have fun.
“All we could do was sit around and talk about how nervous we were,” Keating said.
There was a broad range of people – old, young, die-hard fans and others who arrived there by chance.
“I wasn’t thinking about it seriously,” Keating said, who add she wasn’t nervous because she didn’t really care about winning the money.
“I thought it would be a really cool story to tell people,” Keating said.
When it was finally her turn, Keating found the set a lot smaller than she expected. On TV, it looks like the audience goes on forever because it’s dark, but in reality, there are only four rows of audience. Still, there were plenty of people trained to make a lot of noise.
“It’s really overwhelming to be in the middle of all that,” Keating said.
She was pleased to find that Vieira was as nice off camera as she was on camera.
Keating made it to the second round, but was tripped up by the question, “What state is Gay City State Park located in?”
The answer, ironically, was Connecticut.
“I didn’t know what it was and I had no way to figure it out,” Keating said.
Although she joked about using the potential million dollars to retire and start an alpaca farm, Keating’s winnings will go to student loans – she graduated from New York University in 2008.
Her alpaca farm will have to wait. For now, Keating loves living and working for the publishing industry in New York City.
Keating attributes her success on Millionaire to a good grounding in trivia and watching a lot of Jeopardy as a child.
“There’s no fantastic book that I read that had all the answers, unfortunately,” Keating said.
She said she was glad she had the chance to be on Millionaire.
“It was a great opportunity and I would go back, but if that ends up not happening, I’m okay with that,” Keating said.