Good Game Plan

Spring-Ford history teacher Bowen winning game shows


Submitted photo

History teacher Melanie Bowen has enjoyed winning visits to the television gameshows “Wheel of Fortune” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

By Katie O’Callaghan , Staff Writer

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A winner on national television? A trivia god? A mother? A wife? A history buff? A teacher?

For Melanie Bowen, it’s all of those things and more.

Bowen teaches history at Spring-Ford during the day before her night shift as a television star on ABC game shows.

Making her debut on “Wheel of Fortune,” Bowen earned a jaw-dropping $44,000, all-expenses-paid trip to the Dominican Republic with an additional $1000 spending money, and a 2016 Ford Fiesta.

While Bowen certainly could have ended her fame on a high, she was not about to quit there with a follow-up act this school year on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

“(I got into a) sort of a virtual social circle with former participants of different game shows,” Bowen said. “There’s actually a facebook alumni group where I formed many friends on. I saw many of them going on different shows and posting about the whole process, so I got the idea from them to try and be on ‘Millionaire.’”

So what’s it take to have the chance to win a million dollars and be on national television?

For Bowen it all started with an application.

“So many people say ‘oh I could never be on it,’” Bowen said. “And, yeah, you can NEVER be if you don’t apply, so just apply … so why not?”

Just 24 hours after applying, Bowen received a call to go further with the auditioning process to take the “Millionaire” test.

“It was a Skype test, an oral test of multiple choice questions getting progressively harder like the show,” Bowen explained. “There was no reference to see or anything, but I guess I did alright. They told me I passed and wanted me to interview with another producer just an hour later.”

Bowen didn’t hear anything definitive about whether she would be on “Millionaire,” just paperwork emails for those waiting to be on the broadcast.

“I assumed I was in the contestant pool but nothing was written in stone” Bowen said. “Then, out of the blue, I got a call.

“I saw a Vegas number on my phone and didn’t recognize it so I was like, hmmmm…. And I answered and they told me they wanted me to film on Wednesday.”

With just four days to pack, Bowen cancelled a pre-planned vacation to Niagara Falls and booked a flight for Las Vegas to tape the show with her husband accompanying her. Bowen had her brother-in-law waiting for the “phone a friend” lifeline.

“I wanted a ‘phone a friend’ who had a different base of knowledge than me,” Bowen explained. “Someone more science, math, or sports (centered), which is a weaker end of trivia for me.”

Wheel of fortune provided Bowen with 18 months to prepare, which she spent recording episodes and watching them religiously three weeks before recording.

“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” however, did not give her the opportunity to use that strategy with such little notice.

“I really didn’t have time to prepare, so I brushed up on my Greek mythology, state capitals, and geography. My head was spinning there was so many things, so I chose what could stick to my head. If I could do it over, I’d do strategy over studying.”

Bowen reached the $20,000 question, opting to walk away instead of risking an answer she wasn’t completely confident in. That question asked what state had the second-youngest population. Frustratingly, she had guessed the right answer of Alaska.

So where will America see Bowen again?

She saids she is interested on “Million Dollar Pyramid” or “Deal or No Deal” as her next adventure. However, she needs a year hiatus from game shows as protocol from network TV.

So maybe you’ll see Mrs. Bowen on the small screen again next year.