Dan Blonsky has always been great at remembering what he calls “formerly useless information.” So when he saw an article in the Miami Herald about how to apply to be on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in January 2000, he decided to give it a shot. “The show went on the air in late ’99 and got a lot of attention and publicity,” Blonsky says. “I’d seen it a couple of times, and it seemed like they were just giving away $32,000” because of the ease of the first questions a contestant faces. “I figured that was enough money to look foolish on TV.”
So Blonsky called in to begin the application process. He won a couple of automated telephone competitions, and before the Burlington, Schwiep, Kaplan & Blonsky attorney knew it, he was on a plane to New York to participate in a filming of the quiz show.
Despite the tense studio atmosphere and the pressure of playing for $1 million, Blonsky says he was able to keep his cool. “As a litigator, I’m used to speaking in front of people, so that didn’t bother me,” he says. “It’s really a lot more nerve-wracking doing a federal appeal than answering questions from Regis.”
Blonsky’s million-dollar question –– what is the distance between the earth and the sun? –– didn’t give him much trouble. (The answer is 93 million miles.) It was the second-to-last question, which asked who appeared on the cover of the first issue of People magazine, that gave him the most pause. Luckily, he still had his “phone a friend” lifeline, and a quick call to a friend’s wife confirmed that the answer was Mia Farrow.
Because the show aired just a couple of days after it was taped, Blonsky didn’t have to keep his million-dollar secret for long. “I had just enough time,” he says, “to get my phone number changed.”