August 21st, 2009
11:01 AM ET
Ken Basin’s going to make a few bucks on Sunday. How much, he can’t say.
Ken Basin goes for a big payoff on Sunday's "Millionaire."
No, he really can’t say.
Basin, 24, is the man who will be going for $1 million on the final night of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” Sunday. (That he’s facing the million-dollar question is no secret; ABC offered a hint of what’s coming on Thursday’s episode.) The self-described “trivia nerd” taped the show August 5 and has been keeping mum on the results ever since. By making it to the million-dollar question, he’s guaranteed at least $25,000, the last fail-safe level of the show.
In a phone interview, the Los Angeles lawyer said he “didn’t have any expectations” of how he’d do.
“I think a couple of us in our contestant group admitted aloud that there was a small portion of our beings … that didn’t want to make it into the Hot Seat. Because if you didn’t make it into the Hot Seat you can blame it on the Fastest Finger - you can say it was bad luck, there was too much randomness,” he said.
But once he made it, he had the training to do well. He played quiz bowl in high school and is a regular at a bar trivia game in Santa Monica, where his teammates occasionally include “Jeopardy!” champions. Moreover, his girlfriend, Pam Mueller, won the 2000 “College Jeopardy!” tournament.
In fact, Basin's had a shot at big money before. He appeared on “College Jeopardy!” in 2003, making it as far as the semi-finals. He tried out for the syndicated version of “Millionaire” and actually received a call to go on, but was in - of all places - Croatia and missed the call. His second chance came with the phone game for the current prime-time run, and he made the most of it.
Though Basin has to be deliberately closed-mouthed when it comes to the final results, he was willing to answer some other queries. He said he had a bevy of authorities on his side; not only was the show expert Bill Nye the Science Guy, but Basin’s three phone-a-friends - Jerome Vered, Alan Bailey and Dan Pawson - compiled a combined 39 “Jeopardy!” appearances. (Pawson was “Jeopardy’s” most recent Tournament of Champions winner.)
“It’s a dream team,” he said.
As for his strategy, Basin said he was going to go as long as he could.
“As long as questions kept coming that I knew, I was going to keep rolling,” he said. “I had some pressure on myself to at least make it to 25 [thousand]. That’s really the threshold. That’s the level that you can leave with your head held high - at least I felt, going in.”
How far did he make it? We’ll all just have to tune in Sunday to find out.
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