skip to main content
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Just About Everyone, it Seems

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Just About Everyone, it Seems

Regis Philbin's game show has become a national phenomenon

by Mark Gillespie


PRINCETON, NJ -- Network executives dream of shows like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" A new Gallup poll conducted February 14-15, 2000 -- during the all-important February "sweeps" period for television ratings -- found that three out of four Americans (74%) have watched the ABC-TV hit. Unlike most network programs, which are targeted to reach a specific audience group, "Millionaire" appeals to every demographic group, and Regis Philbin's "Is that your final answer?" seemingly has become a national catch phrase. In fact, a January Gallup poll found that 66% of Americans could name Philbin as the show's host -- more than could name Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show."

Millions Will try, Millions More Will Watch
Contestants on the show start the qualifying process with a phone call to the show's toll-free contestant line. Gallup interviewers found that six percent of those who have watched the show have themselves tried to become a contestant on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

However, most Americans appear to be content to sit back and watch others try their luck, and Gallup's findings show millions of Americans are doing just that. When the findings are broken out along demographic lines, the percent watching appears to be high across all segments of society:

  • 77% of women , compared to 71% of men have watched the show
  • 75% of those who have attended college
  • 74% of those with high school educations or less
  • 81% of those with annual incomes of $75,000 or more
  • 74% of those with incomes of less than $20,000 annually
  • 81% of those living in the Midwest, compared to 69% of those in the East

Are The Questions Too Tough?
The show's producers are in the middle of a legal debate over the difficulty level of questions used on the show. The British insurance company that has issued a policy that covers some of the show's million-dollar prizes has filed a lawsuit claiming that the questions and selection process are too easy. However, a majority of American viewers of the show believe the process is fair. When asked whether the questions used on the show should be made more difficult, less difficult, or remain at the same level, 73% found the current level of difficulty acceptable, with just 20% saying that they would prefer tougher questions. The largest level of support for more difficult questions comes from those with post-graduate degrees. (Just three percent of "Millionaire" viewers would prefer easier questions.)

And yes, that is our final answer.

Survey Methods
The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,050 adults, 18 years and older, conducted February 14-15, 2000. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Have you watched the quiz show program, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" hosted by Regis Philbin, or not?

  Yes No No opinion
2000 Feb 14-15 74% 26 *

Just in your opinion, would you like to see the questions used on, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" -- become more difficult, become less difficult, or should they remain at about the same level of difficulty that they are now?


  More difficult Less difficult Remain about the same level No opinion
2000 Feb 14-15 20% 3 73 4

Have you personally tried to call the contestant line to try out to be on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", or not?


  Yes No No opinion
2000 Feb 14-15 6% 94 *

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030