A contestant on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” had reached the final plateau. If she answered the next question correctly, she would win $1,000,000.
If she answered incorrectly, she would pocket only the $32,000 milestone money.
As she suspected it would be, the million-dollar question was no pushover. It was:
Which of the following species of birds does not build its own nest, but instead lays its eggs in the nests of other birds? Is it
a) the condor
b) the buzzard
c) the cuckoo, or
d) the vulture?
The woman was on the spot. She did not know the answer. And she was doubly on the spot because she had used up her 50/50 Lifeline and her Audience Poll Lifeline. All that remained was her Phone-a-Friend Lifeline, and the woman had hoped against hope that she would not have to use it because the only friend that she knew would be home happened not to be very sharp-minded. But the contestant had no alternative. She called her friend and gave her the question and the four choices.
Her friend responded unhesitatingly: “That’s easy. The answer is c: the cuckoo.”
The contestant had to make a decision and make it fast. She considered employing a reverse strategy and giving the host any answer except the one that her friend had given her. And considering that her friend was a bit slow, it would seem to be the logical thing to do. On the other hand – she had responded with such confidence, such certitude, that the contestant could not help but be persuaded.
“I need an answer,” said the host.
Crossing her fingers, the contestant said, “c: the cuckoo.”
“Is that your final answer?” asked the host.
“Yes, that is my final answer.”
Two seconds later, the host said, “I regret to inform you that the answer is… absolutely correct! You are now a millionaire!”
Three days later, the contestant hosted a party for her family and friends including her friend who had helped her win the million dollars.
“Jenny, I just do not know how to thank you,” said the contestant. “Because of your knowing the answer to that final question, I am now a millionaire. And do you want to know something? It was your assuredness with which you answered the question that convinced me to go with your choice. By the way… how did you happen to know the right answer?”
“Oh, come on!” said Jenny. “Everybody knows that cuckoos don’t build nests. They live in clocks.”