26-year-old film student Alex Dusek has just won $307,000 on Million Dollar Minute !
SH: Everyone asks you how you felt at the moment of your Big Win. What I want to know is; how did you feel when you woke up the next day? Other than hungover perhaps; I don’t know.
AD: (LAUGHS) It’s that thing of winning money but only you know about it and you can’t really tell anybody. I told my family because I was living at home at the time and I didn’t want to have to keep a secret and I would have told them anyway. You can’t tell everyone straight away. It’s all inside. I don’t think it felt real for a good two months after the show.
SH: Wasn’t there a studio audience in the show, didn’t your family come?
SH: Really? But there’s applause! How did they do that! Family and friends aren’t allowed to come along anyway?
AD: I think at the very top levels that might happen. But the next day, what would have happened was I would have had a deep sleep and just woken up and gone to Uni and it would just have felt like a very strange dream. It all happened so quickly, you film five episodes in a day, as you would have done as well. It feels like a blur. Did it feel like a blur to you?
SH: Yes, it is just abstract. I feels like you’ve gone and played this fun game, and it’s very exciting and it is so abstract. I do remember waking up the next few days and going online and looking at stuff and going “I can buy that! I can buy that as well!” Of course, we had to keep it secret for another two or three weeks, between the recording and the airing. My girlfriend at the time – now my wife – is not very good at keeping secrets. I was really worried because you sign all these things and if you reveal stuff they can take it all away from you… but it turned out okay.
AD: That would have been stressful.
SH: How much publicity was there about your win, and how did you handle it?
AD: There was a fair bit. I think the champs on the show tended to be in their mid-thirties; that seems to be kind of peak age for champs or older. Only being 26 and a student there was quite a lot of novelty to that and there was value in me publicity-wise. I felt quite good with it. I think when you are talking to a crowd, when you are talking to say (Million Dollar Minute host) Simon, where there is an intended audience, it is inherently artificial, to a degree. It isn’t a real exchange of ideas. I felt like I was kind of being an alter ego and that felt natural and easy. I think it is harder being yourself in a one-on-one situation.
SH: You’re playing a role, I guess.
SH: I have to say, just watching it you are a great champ. You’re very good telly.
AD: Oh thanks, Stephen.
SH: You are happy and enthusiastic and humble and not nervous or tongue-tied. You come across as really genuine and enthusiastic – they would have loved you.
AD: I have to say that while being a fast player is most important, being enthusiastic is the next best trait. On the show so many times I have seen big champs who win big amounts, and it looks like they are already thinking about what Simon is going to ask them. They don’t jump around or they don’t get too excited. They do run a lot of ads for Million Dollar Minute and I’ve been lucky enough to still feature in them even though I am not the largest winner and there have been plenty of excellent champs since me. I think it’s because I was super enthusiastic and it meant so much to me that it comes across… Like when I won one of the amounts, I kind of got down and punched the floor.
SH: That’s right.
AD: I think that is important, to let go of yourself and give in to your emotions. I am really glad that I had that reaction.
SH: I remember jumping up and down, like literally jumping up and down. It wasn’t put on or anything. I was genuinely so excited. It was amazing but you often see people who are just too reserved or trying to be cool or just awkward and uncomfortable. You just seem pretty relaxed and happy and enthusiastic. That’s the best way to be a winning contestant, I reckon.
Now, that may seem a bit ‘easier said than done’ for some people, what with all the pressure of performing on national television, in that combative studio environment. But if there is any way you can relax and enjoy it – via mental exercises, breathing exercises, whatever works for you – not only will it tick the box of making you a more entertaining champ… it should also mean that you’re more relaxed and able to perform better in the actual game.
In theory, anyway…
In next week’s penultimate instalment of this interview, Alex and I chat about all the Big Issues: Money, Art, Ambition, and The Expendables 3.
All that and more next week, here at www.howtowingameshows.com!