Me vs. McGuire: My Day as a Hot Seat Contestant by Jayden Masciulli

What is the French word for ‘exit’? A: Gauche

B: Entree

C: Droit

D: Sortie

Do you know it? Do you? Come on

a million bucks is on the line

I know it’s hard

I do

Just relax

Think about it

Take a breath


I’m not proficient in French


But it’s definitely not entree

Gauche sounds like something you put on a Bunsen burner

Is sortie even a French word? Oh, I don’t know

Maybe I should pass


Just do it

When in doubt, lock in C

Right? OK

‘C: Droit’? Lock it in? Yes

This was my exact thought process as I stared directly into the cryptic face of Melbourne landmark Eddie McGuire

Hundreds of eyes gazed down on me

Searing spotlights were aimed in my direction

A massive TV screen hung above, projecting my terrified face to the crowd, and soon, the whole of Australia

I don’t like being the centre of attention

I’m not a fan of high pressure situations

So why the hell was I a contestant on Millionaire: Hot Seat? It had been a long day

From the moment I arrived wearily at Docklands studios at about eight in the morning, my day consisted of a lot of waiting around

As a contestant on the sixth and final episode being filmed that day, it’s safe to say my anxiety levels were peaking for a probably unhealthy amount of time

My sweat had ruined the carefully spiked tufts of hair I had spent all morning perfecting by the time it was my turn

Meeting the other contestants on the day, I have to give credit to the producers for finding 36 utterly unique people

Everybody was of different ages, different backgrounds and different ways of life, some of whom had travelled from other states just to be there

As the token young uni student, I was put in an episode with a fraud investigator, a couple of grandparents and a ballroom dancer


I sat in the green room all day, watching the hordes of contestants gradually diminish as their episodes were filmed, and money was excitedly given or tragically snatched away

Their relieved faces only made my nerves rise faster, and my hair flop unwittingly

By the time my episode finally rolled around it was about five in the afternoon, and my anxiety had been replaced with exhaustion and a desperate need for coffee

I, along with the dozens of contestants, producers and audience members (even McGuire himself), were eager to get it over with

For those who are desperate to discover some juicy secrets about the inner workings of Hot Seat, I’m afraid there isn’t much to give away

All I can really tell you is that the set is miniscule

And the hot seat is a lot taller than I expected

So after a thin layer of foundation was smeared across my face, and NO product was given to fix my hair (I will not get over this!), it was time to rock and roll

Most of it was a blur

Something about all those lights and cameras and cartoon fuses and casual Collingwood references really stressed me out to the point of memory lapse

I know I gave the thumbs-up in the obligatory contestant intro

Why? I know I made a few gags about internet passwords

And I definitely remember Eddie getting my name wrong

(Dude, it is literally written in front of you!) For the record, I did not call Eddie ‘dude’

But it’s everything else that terrifies me when I finally see it on TV

Was I even smiling? What do I sound like? What did I say? How did my goddamn hair look? But looking back, I am quite proud of my efforts

I managed to get two answers correct, before bombing out on that French question

(It was ‘D’ for those of you playing at home

Who knew?) And seeing as it was a pretty tough question for the $4,000 mark, I see it as something of an honourable failure

But I did ruin the chance of anyone else winning the elusive million

Sorry, guys

And with that I attempted another lame joke, shook Eddie’s hand and walked off the set to a half-enthused applause, forbidden to ever return

The testing and audition process had stretched on for more than a year, and after all that waiting and preparing, I was out of the studio faster than the make-up people would touch up Eddie’s face

So now I wait eagerly/anxiously for the airing date

Sure I walked away still worth less than the tie Eddie was wearing, but it’s the experience and thrill of being involved in a game show institution such as this, and the lifelong friends I met that really made it all worthwhile

Ha! Just kidding

I really wanted to win some damn money

Jayden Masciulli

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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