So just how does one become a millionaire on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Well, read the rules to find out.
Everyone 18 or older is eligible to play. Contestants qualify by calling a telephone number (a 900-number in August, Toll-free from then on) and then answering three questions of increasing difficulty, each of which requiring that you place 4 items in a certain order. Only by getting all 3 questions right to you have a chance of advancing. In August, the semifinalists are those who answered all three questions correctly, and in the fastest cumulative time; in November and right now, a computerized random draw decides who goes to the second round.
Those who do qualify are given a PIN and an 800 number to call for a free telephone playoff. The playoff is done in the same manner: 5 questions, placing items in order. Again, in order to become a finalist you have to answer all 5 questions right. The 10 people who do it in the fastest cumulative time are flown to New York to participate in the actual show. (In March 2000, this once again became a random draw.)
In the show, one more question is shown. Again, the players must arrange the four answers to that question correctly and in the fastest time. The one that does so is the winner and makes it on stage to play the real game.
The object of the game is simple: A maximum of 15 questions will be asked to the player, each having four possible choices. If the player answers correctly, s/he wins the amount designated for that question. A player may change his/her answer, use Lifelines or even stop the game at any point, but once they confirm an answer as final, it's locked into the computer and can't be changed.
The 5th and 10th questions are important ones, as they constitute "guarantee" points. Once a guarantee point is crossed, the player is sure to win at least that much money, regardless of his/her performance in the remainder of the game. Answering the 5th question guarantees $1000, while the 10th question guarantees the player $32,000. This also gives special status to the 6th and 11th questions in the ladder: they are both considered "freebies" since a wrong answer wouldn't deduct any money from the player. If a player is incorrect, the game is over and the player leaves with only the amount s/he guaranteed. If the player makes a mistake on the fifth question or earlier, all winnings are forfeited, since the player had not guaranteed him/herself any money.
During the course of the game, the player has at his/her disposal three "Lifelines," which can be used at any time in the game to help a player out on a particular question. The Lifelines, and their uses, are:
More than one Lifeline can be used on one question, but each Lifeline can only be used once.