Philly bartender wins big on Millionaire

November 20, 2009 That is what Philadelphia's own Sam Murray can offer now that he is just the third person to walk away with a million dollars on the weekday version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

As a bartender, Sam is no stranger to people sitting on stools and talking, but it was a little different back on November 11 when he was the one on the hot seat facing host of Millionaire, Meredith Vieira.

Sam had already walked away a week before with $50,000, but he was welcomed back the next week as a member of Millionaire's first ever Tournament of Ten. The top 10 contestants who had answered the most questions right in the fastest time within the first weeks of the season were placed into contention to win the million dollars.

Each day in the tournament, one contestant would return to be asked one more question for a million dollars. Answer it correctly, you're a millionaire. Answer it incorrectly, you would most likely lose thousands.

After the first two days and no correct answer, Sam was ready to set his sights on his million dollar question. "According to the Population Reference Bureau, what is the approximate number of people who have ever lived on earth? A: 50 billion B: 100 billion C: 1 trillion D: 5 trillion" Now, Sam seemed to be wavering with his response, but finally took the gamble and answered 100 billion. He was right. (Though, it's actually 106.5 billion, but Meredith said they rounded it. They can do that, you know).

So Sam became the tournament leader and with a surprise visit from his son Tim, who came all the way from Wisconsin, he sat in the stands for the next six episodes as he watched contestant after contestant be asked the million dollar question, and each decided to walk away without risking their hard earned money. By the way, most of those contestants guessed the right choices, but did not make it their final answers, deciding to walk away instead.

Then came Friday's episode and the top seeded player of the tournament, Jehan Shamsid-Deen's, a non-profit program officer from Concord, North Carolina, time to shine. She had already won $250,000 to get to this point and if she answered her million dollar question correctly, she would be the millionaire, leaving Sam with his $50,000.

Jehan's million dollar question was "A rare example of a word that rhymes with "orange," the Blorenge is a what? A: River in Ireland, B: Forest in Scotland, C: Mountain in Wales, D: Desert in Australia."

Jehan hypothesized the answer to be Mountain in Wales. In the stands, Sam told his son it's C. However, Jehan decided not to risk the money and decided to walk away with her $250,000. The answer was C.

With that, Sam Murray, a bartender in good ol' Philly, became the newest millionaire and the winner of Millionaire's Tournament of Ten. Once Sam was revealed as the Tournament winner, the celebratory confetti dropped from the ceiling and Sam ran around the set, giving 'high-fives' to the audience. Meredith asked him what the money meant to him and he responded, "You don't know what it means to me. I've done a million things in my life. I've been all over and I've just wanted to be able to go back to school. I really like helping sick people and I really want to go back and get my nursing degree. I feel like it's my calling."

When Meredith Vieira asked Sam if he had one "fun thing" that he would want to do with the money, Sam responded, "Jehan was talking about going skydiving … so I'll go skydiving with ya!"


Trisha Miller contributed to this article

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