Jason Zollinger to appear on ‘Millionaire’

SOUTH DAYTON – A South Dayton man will have a second shot to be on television Friday.

Jason Zollinger will appear on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” for a chance to win a Disney Cruise.

Zollinger, who previously won more than $245,000 appearing on Jeopardy! in 2010, will appear on the 30-minute television show airing locally on WNLO.

The long-running quiz show hosted by Meredith Vieira features contestants answering questions in sequence to earn dollar amounts ranging from $100 to $1 million.

“On our show traditionally, if we are toward the end of the show and we didn’t have enough time for another contestant, we will select someone randomly from the audience,” Trisha Miller, publicist for the show, said.

Usually, that randomly selected winner would win $1,000 but this week, a new promotion has been going on. Each randomly selected contestant could have had the opportunity to win a Disney Cruise for four.

Zollinger, who works in quality control for a diesel assembly factory, was in the audience for the show to audition as a contestant.

“I’ve been trying to get on (Who Wants To Be A) Millionaire for a long time, ever since the show came out,” he said.

Zollinger said he started going to road auditions for the show in 2005 and has auditioned in Ohio and New York City, most recently in July 2011. In October, Zollinger went again to New York City to audition.

“As part of (auditioning) … you get to watch a taping of a couple of shows,” he said.

Zollinger said he was randomly selected out of the audience on the last show being taped that day. He recalled the female contestant either missed a question or walked away, but Zollinger could not remember.

“There wasn’t much time left so instead of bringing out a new contestant they picked someone out of the audience,” he said.

Zollinger could not say if he won the cruise or not, but did explain his wardrobe choice for the show. During his appearance, Zollinger wore a tie with pictures of his two daughters, Muriel and Kieran.

“A few years ago I was on “Jeopardy!” and it started with that. When I auditioned for ‘Jeopardy!’, I wore a tie. At that point our youngest daughter had not been born yet so it was just a picture of our older daughter, Muriel.” Zollinger said. “It was kind of an ice breaker, conversation piece. … It gave me something to talk about.”

According to Zollinger, he started wearing the tie when he auditioned for Jeopardy! and continued through the games he played, including the Tournament of Champions.

“I thought I should continue with that tradition and got an updated tie with a picture of both the girls,” Zollinger said.

When appearing on the show, Zollinger said the tie still worked as an ice breaker and producers loved the idea. He even gives credit to his young daughters for his appearance on the show.

“I give the credit to the girls for getting me on the show,” he said.

While Zollinger already appeared on a taping of the show, he hopes that this is just the beginning. He is still in the contestant pool for a chance to play for $1 million. He even got his name pulled in November and went to a taping. Unfortunately, he did not have the chance to play because the taping was the finale for the season.

“Hopefully this one question will be just the beginning and I’ll get picked for next season,” he said. “There hasn’t been a million dollar winner in a long time so I think they’re due. It might as well be me.”

“Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” will air at 1 p.m. on WNLO. Check your local listings for channels.

Comments on this article may be sent to smcdonnell@observertoday.com.