SOUTH DAYTON - A South Dayton resident will be soon be sailing with Mickey Mouse. Jason Zollinger appeared on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" Friday where he won a Disney Cruise.
A viewing party was held at the South Dayton Hotel where Zollinger gathered with friends and family to watch the episode which aired Friday afternoon. Jason's father, Larry Zollinger, was in attendance at the viewing party. He attended to not miss the "exciting" event.
"This is a small place where not much happens. You got to celebrate it when it does happen," Larry said.
Pictured at left, South Dayton resident Jason Zollinger stands with “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” Host Meredith Vieira. At right, Jason Zollinger and his wife, Rose will be taking a Disney Cruise he won on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” which aired Friday. Pictured are Zollinger’s daughters, Muriel (front) and Kieran (held by Zollinger).
Photo courtesy of Disney ABC / Samantha McDonnell
Zollinger was in the audience for the taping of the show in November when he was selected to answer a question for a chance to win a Disney Cruise. If the show runs out of time, a randomly selected contestant from the audience is chosen to play. Zollinger, who wore a tie with his daughters on it, thought that he may be selected as the contestant. He explained before the taping of the show, producers were talking about his tie and before the show in studio while sitting in his seat, the audience attendant was commenting on his tie.
"It wasn't completely a surprise, they were talking about the tie," Zollinger said. "They asked if I would be considered for an audience question."
Zollinger said that off camera before they called his name, he could see producers and staff of the show were pointing up to where he and his wife, Rose, were seated in the audience.
"That made me more nervous about the anticipation," he said.
Once Zollinger was called down as a contestant, he recalled almost stumbling down the stairs. He was curious as to how the show would edit the misstep.
"The people next to us had stuff I had to clamber over," he recalled. "I had to tip toe down. I wanted to see how it would look."
He also recalled the floor on the stage was Plexiglas with lights underneath to give the illusion of a slanted floor. He joked he had held up the show trying to get out of his row. Once Zollinger reached the stage, he was asked a question regarding nursery rhymes. The question, "'Build it up with silver and gold, silver and gold, silver and gold' is a lesser known stanza of what nursery rhyme?" was asked. Zollinger had to choose between "Humpty Dumpty," "London Bridge is Falling Down," "Hickory Dickory Dock" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
When asked what was going through his mind during the question, Zollinger thought it would be an easy question, being the father of two young daughters.
"It's a nursery rhyme question, I got to know it," he said. "But I never heard that verse before."
After an "emotional roller coaster" and singing each nursery rhyme in his head, Zollinger correctly answered "London Bridge is Falling Down." As a result, Zollinger won a seven day cruise for four. Zollinger said he was "so excited" to win. He plans to take his wife and daughters, Muriel, age 5, and Kieran, age 1, on the cruise. The two daughters are really excited, especially Muriel, Rose said. Larry agreed saying Muriel is "beside herself."
Since the show's taping, Zollinger could not discuss the cruise with anyone except his wife. He said keeping the secret was not hard because of his practice from his previous appearances on Jeopardy!. Zollinger's wife, Rose, who attended the taping with him also, was excited for her husband to win.
"I was ecstatic. I was happy he got picked," she said. "We are just really excited (about the cruise)."
Rose said she was nervous when Zollinger got a question about a nursery rhyme. She was hoping he would answer correctly, adding she was "pretty sure" he would answer correctly.
Zollinger still hopes to be a regular contestant on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" but he said that host Meredith Vieira is not coming back next season. The show has also not been renewed for another season. He said due to this new information, the experience in November has become more "poignant." His hopes are still not dashed to complete on a game show, stating quiz shows have been around and there is always a new concept.
"I'm a trivia nut. If anyone wants to give me money for knowing trivia - I'm getting in line," Zollinger said.