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Hi… my name is Lee… and I'm addicted to game shows.

It all started when I was young, I guess… I would climb the stairs of my house and wait for Rod Roddy (God rest his soul) to scream "Come on Down!" Like the contestant that never was, I would sprint down the stairs and sit in my own contestants row… my living room couch.

written by Lee DiGeorge

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Episode 5 - "Charles vs. Charles" (July 10)

Welcome, everyone! This week, The DiGeorge Files takes us deep into the dark underbelly of Game Shows… cheaters.

In the 1950's, game shows were all the rage, including the acclaimed Twenty-One, which was sponsored by Geritol. As readers who are savvy moviegoers know, a critically acclaimed movie was ultimately made of the scandal. For all of those who are unaware of the situation, here's the really brief history.

Herb Stempel, a reigning champion on Twenty-One, was informed that a new contestant, Charles Van Doren, was his challenger for the next show. He was also informed by the producers of the television show that he would LOSE purposely. Stempel was obviously incredibly upset about the idea, yet did his job by losing the battle. To add some sort of cosmic insult to injury, his final question, which he was supposed to throw, was about one of his favorite movies of all time.

Name the 1955 Oscar Winner for Best Picture:
Herb's forced answer: On the Waterfront
Correct answer: Marty

From there, the rest is history. The Supreme Court ultimately got involved. New laws were passed. Quiz shows, however, suffered a downswing. The days of prime time game show television were gone…

Until "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" in 1999.

The revitalization of a prime time game show was hitting its stride. People were tuning in to watch what would happen next. Part of me always wondered… is this a ploy a savvy television company to generate ratings? I doubted that. We were watching real live quiz show drama again… until someone in the UK ruined it.

Although the news really didn't resonate in the United States, the British version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" gave away a million pound prize on September 10, 2001. The problem? He cheated.

What seemed like a clever idea ultimately became a massive lawsuit. Major Charles Ingram was wearing four pagers, each located in strategic areas of his body. While each question was being considered his wife would call one of the pagers, alerting him to the correct answer.

However, when she was unsure herself, they were regulated to a cough system. The helping hand in this case was a different gentleman in the contestant pool, Tecwen Whittock. However, the Major had a problem… he enjoyed talking too much before being alerted to the answer. There were some cases in which he would dismiss an answer, and ultimately ended up stumped. When he would read the answers aloud again, the cough came at the answer he dismissed previously… the correct answer.

There has been a special in the UK about it titled: "Millionaire: A Major Fraud." Ingram, at the time a Major in the British Army, was forced to step down from his position because of the incident. Ultimately, the three were convicted in a court of law and each faced significant jail time.

How do I feel about these scandals? It makes me look at Ken Jennings and question it all. It makes me look at Millionaire and wait for something else to happen. It's a train wreck of sorts. We are all disgusted by it, but we cannot turn away. Could Jennings be getting the answers via a headset? Probably not. Jennings probably isn't cheating at all. However, based on the past actions of many people, how many of us would be shocked if he was?

Not I.

For next time, please answer the following question:
<% total=counter_a+counter_b%>

Is poker a sport?

<%= formatnumber((counter_a/total)*100,1) %>%
<%= formatnumber((counter_b/total)*100,1) %>%
Total Votes: <%= total %>

Is poker a sport? Please e-mail your answers to me.

A special thanks to Bill and Scott, always e-mailing me with great thoughts. You guys are the reason this column gets written.

Until next time, peace out, cub scouts!

Lee has never cheated on a math exam, an English paper, or his girlfriend. E-mail him at

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