2 weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. 20,160 minutes. 1,209,600 secon- well, you get the idea.
2 weeks of jogging, of trying to stay calm, of trying to think like a game show producer, trying to think like a question writer. 2 weeks of watching Temptation every week night and continuing to play along at home. Even if I didn’t win my play-at-home version of the game on those nights, I knew I could rule out the questions that were contained in them. They wouldn’t be recycling the general “buzzer” questions – and importantly the ‘Who Am I?’ questions – just 2 weeks later, when I’d be back behind the buzzer.
I theorised – if I were a producer of Temptation, who would I put up as a serious contender against me? Probably a man. They’re generally more competitive and eager to prove themselves than women. Probably a younger man. Quicker reflexes, more aggressive, more cocksure.
A couple of times – but truly, only a couple – a tiny doubt crept into my mind. I kicked it out again immediately. My self-talk* told me ‘NO! There’s no room in this brain for doubt! Right now, it’s otherwise occupied!’
It’s general knowledge, and so difficult to study for, but I did buy a globe of the world. I also looked through Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ list, for the ‘Who Am I’ questions, which are valuable in Temptation. They have to be hard to answer but not completely obscure. From the question writer’s perspective, it’s a question that they need to be able to tease out. I remember printing out a periodic table, and my friend Gavin doing a general crib sheet for me about Sports. (Not traditionally one of my strengths).
I listened to positive, upbeat empowering music as I jogged. I do particularly remember this one (Closer by Slinkee Minx) being on high rotation on my iPod as I jogged up and down Bondi Beach.
I wrote a positive self-talk document for myself* that I’d refer to many times before the next record.
Eventually, finally… the day of the record (9th August, 2005) rolls around. I knew that I’d have to win the first 3 games of the record day – “Monday”, “Tuesday” and “Wednesday” – in order to achieve my goal.
I win the first show (Monday night). I have now won a Volvo valued at $62,950.
I win the second show (Tuesday night). I have now won all the prizes in the showcase, valued at $145,326.
If I play – and win! – one night more, I’ll add $500,000 to that total (along with whatever prizes I’ve won along the way in the Gift Shop, and from the Fame Game). And with that thought in mind, it’s time for the lunch break.
I do remember going to the Channel 9 canteen for lunch and having a very average steak with black bean sauce and rice. It was not good food. I also had a couple of coffees, in the belief that maybe a bit of caffeine would help what was about to come….
And I remember pacing up and down out the back of Channel 9 while I waited to digest all that, and for the 3rd game to begin. I didn’t mix with other contestants, I just wanted to be alone, and collect my thoughts. I’d done the calculations, and knew exactly how many questions were asked in the average game of Temptation. I can’t quickly recall that figure to mind now, but I do remember thinking at the time; “Well, in 40 questions from now (or whatever the number was) it’ll all be over – the race will have been run and won.”
As it turns out, for the final game, they did put a real hungry contender up against me. A man. A young man – Drew Devlin. He really came to win, and gave me a closer match than I’d had since the first night I was on. You can see EXACTLY how the game unfolds here.
At the end of the third round, we come to the final ‘Who Am I’ question, potentially worth $25.
“I was born in Jerusalem in 1922″…. Drew buzzed in, said “Ben Gurion?” My heart was in my throat. I remembered that name from my research in the past 2 weeks. But he was wrong – it was not David Ben Gurion. That narrowed it down to 2 people for me – either Shimon Peres or Yitzhak Rabin (I knew that Benjamin Netanyahu was too young). As the clues kept coming and coming, I was worried that Sue would buzz in. Until… “And with a first name Yitzhak…”
Sue did buzz in, but I was marginally quicker. I got the question right, earning me a pick of the board. And I won $25. I was almost home, but I didn’t dare to let my emotions get the better of me. I knew there were still 15 questions to come.
15 questions of which I would answer only one. Drew buzzed in first almost every time, locking me out. While I was frustrated, I knew in the back of my mind that I had a healthy lead. BUT I could feel it gradually slipping away. Drew was making errors – he was buzzing in as quick as he could, sometimes without knowing the answer, his primary purpose being to prevent me from answering. He got brain freeze. The seconds ticked away, until…
The final question of the fast money round: “Devotion and pride in the group one belongs to is called “Esprit de“… what?” Drew buzzes in and answers correctly (“Corps“) right on the buzzer that signifies the end of the round.
And I vaguely hear Ed say “Stephen wins everything! The lot! The works! He’s won it all!”
Applause, cheering… I look over and see my mum and sister in the audience, tears of joy in their eyes. And I can’t stop shaking. Mum comes up on stage with me, as I accept the prizes. They hand me a big bunch of flowers and a bottle of champagne. In my happy confusion, I ask mum to hold the champagne for me, while I hang on to the flowers. (I should have done it the other way around, I know, but I was pretty flustered.)
I breathe. It worked. It can be done. I just did it.
But in some ways, this was only the beginning. And what what happened after the win will be in the upcoming post entitled ‘Winning The Lot – The Aftermath’…
* More on self-talk in my next post.