First Syndie `Millionaire’ Waiting for Windfall

Mar 3, 2003  •  Post A Comment

When retired L.A. truck driver Kevin Smith, 52, became the first person to win the top prize on the syndicated Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, hosted by Meredith Vieira, he was “about $300 to $400 away from being a street person.” Mr. Smith taped the show in December and it aired in February, but the check won’t come until later this month. In the meanwhile, our sources say, Mr. Smith approached Disney’s Buena Vista about a small advance. At first, he was told no because of company policy. When the request rose up the ladder, an exec finally agreed to give him $5,000, if only to make sure he had food, a place to live and clean clothes. Smith declined to discuss the advance, as did Buena Vista, but neither was denying the story.
Smith, who is partially disabled and gets around by bus, doesn’t expect life to change even when his mil arrives. He plans to use most of it to provide for his mother and two sisters.
After 45 years preparing for his game show win, Mr. Smith’s next goal: To get on Jeopardy!