Last week, game show winner Kristi Milley was telling us about her rollercoaster ride on 2006’s the MASTER. She’d won $41,100 on the show in August, only to see it get cancelled after its first episode! She wasn’t in the episode that did go to air, so she’d resigned herself to not receiving her winnings. BUT THEN the network played all the remaining, unaired episodes of the show in December 2006…
All the unaired episodes, that is, EXCEPT for Kristi’s one. Once again, any hopes she had of receiving her winnings were dashed.
SH: And you thought that was that the end of your the MASTER story? Seeing the network broadcast every episode of the show except yours?
KM: That’s exactly it. Occasionally I would see the show repeated on TV, but I just filed it away as a fun experience.
SH: But then….?
KM: But then by chance, in early 2020, my great aunt (who’s 88) just happened to be watching daytime TV… and there I was, answering questions! She called my nan who phoned me, the whole family chain, to ask why I didn’t let her know I was going to be on TV. I cried and phoned everyone I knew, to work out what my next steps were… to get the $$$.
SH: Back in 2006, did you sign a standard agreement before the show? And did you get a copy of the agreement? Was one offered to you at the time?
KM: I feel like I signed something, but if I ever had a copy of the agreement, it has long since been turfed. I remember clearly being told that if the show didn’t air, we would get the money. I tried very hard to contact Channel 7 myself but got fobbed off, so I had to get a lawyer to act on my behalf.
SH: Was the network reluctant to pay you?
KM: The network ignored me. It took a bit of work for the lawyer to get Seven to even acknowledge that I needed to be paid. So, I lost a chunk of my winnings as legal fees, which would have been nice to avoid. I have a suspicion that all the episodes only ever aired on 7Two (in 2020, where Kristi’s great aunt saw it) for the first time, and they didn’t know that mine hadn’t aired before. In the end, they paid, but I don’t think they even checked the episode… as I only got paid $41,000 instead of (the amount I won) $41,100.
SH: So what did you do with your winnings, when you finally, FINALLY got your hands on them?
KM: In the end, waiting 15 years for my prize winnings was a blessing. If I’d been paid as a 21-year-old, it would’ve all gone on a holiday. Being paid in my mid-30s gave me the deposit for my first home. A decade as a student completing my PhD had not given me any savings! So, during Melbourne’s second lockdown in late 2020, I purchased my first home. It’s made an amazing difference to my life.
KM: That’s fantastic, Kristi – congratulations! Were there any lessons you learned from your experience you could pass on to any aspiring quiz show contestants?
KM: I think I’ve learnt more on reflection, watching my episode back, than on the day itself. I think I was lucky I had a background in theatre; it helped me feel more comfortable in a new, stressful environment. Watching myself, I just saw I was someone that gave every question a shot. A lot of the time, the answer is sitting somewhere in your brain; it’s just trusting enough to say it out loud. I also didn’t have a fast reaction time and I think that is something I could have worked on before the recording. Lastly, chance played a big part in my win. Understanding that and just going for it was important.
SH: Your appearance on the MASTER was 15 years ago now. Did you go on any other quiz shows or game shows after that? Do you still have the quizzing bug?
KM: I did also appear on Deal or No Deal. I haven’t really applied for any shows since. I’m just biding my time until they bring back Wheel of Fortune and Sale of the Century!
SH: Kristi, thanks so much again for talking to me today – I’ve really enjoyed hearing your story, and I know that a lot of our visitors will too!
KM: Thanks for the invite. It was nice to reflect on my experience.
So there you have it – very much a case of “Good Things Come To Those Who Wait”.* I’d like to thank Kristi so much again for sharing her story, with all its ups and downs. And I’m so glad it had such a happy ending for her… even if it did take a decade and a half to arrive!
* … and also To Those Who Get A Good Lawyer And Don’t Take ‘No’ For An Answer.