California’s “Big Spin” TV Show Morphs into “Make Me a Millionaire”


For two years,as a reporter,  I covered “The Big Spin,” the California Lottery’s weekly TV show.

I was living in Philadelphia. Worked for LOTTOpeople magazine, and as part of the job, flew out to California every month to watch them tape four shows on a Sunday. A month’s worth of shows.

I’d meet the contestants on a Saturday, as they came from all parts of California, and were then briefed by show producers about what they would be doing on Sunday.

Then, early on Sunday morning, I’d go to the TV studio, in Hollywood, for the taping.

I met the hosts, talked to the winners and wrote articles about the winners.

Imagine my surprise then, when I heard that the Big Spin was changing its name, and the games on the show.

After nearly 24 years and millions in prizes, the California Lottery is replacing its “Big Spin” television game show with what it hopes will be a more attractive, four-part successor, “Make Me a Millionaire.”

The weekly half-hour show will air for the first time tonight, Saturday, on 10 stations in the same 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. time bracket as “The Big Spin.”

“The Big Spin,” which featured contestants spinning a large wheel to try for prizes of up to $3 million, had become “a little dated,”a spokesman said.

The first show was in 1985, 10 months after voters authorized the lottery.

“Make Me a Millionaire” will feature 12 contestants who will be chosen by lot to participate in four games: Lucky Penny, Safe Cracker, California Cool and Make Me a Millionaire. The participants are guaranteed at least $2,100.

Lucky Penny will have three contestants who will compete for new cars. In Safe Cracker, two players will vie for up to $88,000 by guessing which in a series of safes contain prize money. California Cool will have a single contestant who will try to win up to $200,000 by finding true statements about the state on a game board.

One contestant will be picked by lot from the remaining six participants to play the fourth game, Make Me a Millionaire. It will feature a progressive $1 million jackpot that will grow by $200,000 each time someone doesn’t win it.

The contestant will try to win the jackpot by guessing whether a series of numbers between one and 50 will be higher or lower than a base number that changes with each round of the game. A correct guess will be worth $10,000.

After one incorrect guess, the player will have the option of taking anything he or she has won to that point or playing on. A contestant who makes two incorrect guesses gets only the minimum prize of $10,000.

I hope to get out there to watch tapings of these shows as well.

I have to make some calls on Monday to see if the hosts are being retained. I hope so.

They are cool people.


Powerball jackpot tonight is $165 million.

Mega Millions jackpot on Tuesday is worth $16 million.

Euro Millions jackpot on Friday is worth 15 million euros.

Good luck, players.

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Married to a beautiful (and extremely intelligent--- smarter than I am) South African woman. One child (brilliant). I've written three books, only one now available. Editor in chief of magazines...former managing editor .... news reporter, magazine writer, joker, sometimes a fool, lottery expert, lover of old, classic movies, music fanatic, Science Fiction fan (Warhammer 40,000, Game of Thrones). Goal for next year: Walk the Camino de Santiago. Into metaphysics, Esther Hicks (Abraham), Louise Hay


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