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Hunter Student Goes on ‘Millionaire’ and Walks Away a Winner

Hunter Student Goes on ‘Millionaire’ and Walks Away a Winner

Photo courtesy of Valleycrest Productions Ltd

Add a new credit to Ellen Murray’s résumé. She is already a graduate student in Hunter’s urban affairs program and a research assistant at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. Now she is a winning contestant from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” the popular daytime quiz show, walking away with $12,500 in prize money.

Murray’s appearance on the show on Nov. 8 and 9 did not come easily. She is, by her own description, “a shy person.” But after a friend suggested she audition, she decided to go ahead as a confidence-building measure. She was encouraged by her boyfriend Justin Strachan, a Hunter graduate student in history, who promised to overcome his fear of heights and go skydiving with her if she did the show.

“Millionaire” is unusual among quiz programs, since contestants appear alone rather than competing against others and they are given the question before they decide whether they want to go on. The questions are chosen randomly from a wide variety of fields, so winning the top prize of $1 million is extremely difficult.

Murray got her first question right – she had to identify the source of the lyric “Summer fling, don't mean a thing” – giving her $25,000 in the bank. (Answer: the movie musical “Grease.”) But confronted with a sequence of tricky random topics – speculation about the cause of Mozart’s death, a snack food popularized by Howard Cosell and a NASA experiment on the moon – she wisely opted to play it safe and take half her $25,000 in prize money home.

As for boyfriend Strachan, he says he’ll keep his promise, and they plan to make their joint parachute jump in the spring.


Published on November 11, 2010

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