The training room in the Waxahachie Fire Department was packed Monday night as family and friends watched firefighter Richard Ellis, a 1995 graduate of Red Oak High School and the son of Rick nd Rebecca Ellis of Glenn Heights, debate whether or not to answer a question worth $100,000.
This was the question: “Founded in 1865, what is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States? A. The New Yorker, B. The New Republic, C. Parade or D. The Nation.”
In Richard’s pursuit to become a millionaire, he was faced with quite a dilemma.
Either take the $50,000 he had earned or risk losing half of it by taking a guess. Without much hesitation, he chose the former.
After taking the $50,000, Ellis was presented an opportunity to answer the question. He chose A. The New Yorker.
The correct answer, however, was D. The Nation.
“It was one of those situations where I had used up all my lifelines,” he said. “If I would have answered the question, it would have been a compete guess.”
Richard, who serves as an engineer with the Waxahachie Fire Department, was a contestant on a “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” episode, which aired in the Dallas area on Channel 8, WFAA (ABC) Monday afternoon.
“It was surreal,” he said about his experience. “During a lot of it, I was felt like I was having an out of body experience. I knew I was answering, but it felt like I wasn’t. The questions were pretty easy.”
Richard answered the first 10 questions without much trouble, totaling up his amount to $25,000. However, he found himself unsure about the $50,000 question.
That question pertained to identifying a particular figure skating maneuver. He used his “ask the audience” lifeline, with the audience providing little help by splitting the possible answers three ways. He then decided to apply the “switch the question” lifeline.
After switching the question, Richard was given another question he was uncertain of. He used his last two lifelines, which forced him to take a guess.
The question was, “Named for the 19th-century French surgeon Jacques Lisfranc, the Lisfranc joint is located where in the body?” Using his last lifeline, Richard was left with two choices: either the hip or the foot.
“I was able to work it out,” he said. “I’ve helped people out before with hip injuries and I’ve never heard it called that before. So, I took an educated guess.”
The guess paid off as Ellis moved on to the $100,000 question in his quest to make good on a promise he had made to his wife before they got married - that one day they would be millionaires.
Unfortunately, he was unable to answer the next question, thus putting an end to his quest to do so through his “Millionaire” appearance.
Ellis’ wife, Kim, couldn’t have cared less.
“I think he did very well,” she said about her husband’s effort. “I’m very proud of him.”
Richard and Kim have already planned out what they will do with the winnings, which won’t arrive until 30 days after airing.
“My wife has a business we are going to invest in,” Richard said. “Also, help out with the family budget and take my wife on a cruise.”
Asked by host Meredith Vieira what they planned to do with whatever money they won, Kim (who was in the audience during the show’s taping) answered they wanted to go on a cruise.
“We actually are thinking about going to the Mexico/Caribbean area leaving out of Galveston,” she said. “We thought about going to Alaska but the trip would take two weeks and with four kids it’s hard to find a place for them to stay for that long.”
Looking at the episode reminded Kim of a priceless experience.
“Everybody was so wonderful there,” she said. “We also got to go to a fire station in the city (New York City). They were great and so welcoming towards us.”
As for Richard’s fellow firefighters in Waxahachie, they were able to see the first airing.
“I think he did a pretty good job,” firefighter Casey Ellsworth said. “It’s not every day that someone you know is given an opportunity to win $50,000.”
E-mail Anthony at firstname.lastname@example.org