TV viewers saw a Beaufort woman walk away with $20,000 last week on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” but Irene Foster said she’s been keeping the secret since the episode’s taping in July.
“I don’t like keeping secrets even though that was a good one,” Foster said.
Foster, a teacher and the wife of a Marine stationed at Parris Island, has made a something of a hobby out of appearing on game shows. Last week’s appearance on “Millionaire” was her fourth on television.
Her biggest win was on an episode of “Wheel of Fortune” that aired in January 2017, when she racked up $58,000 in cash and prizes, including two trips and designer sunglasses.
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She also has been a contestant on “The Price Is Right” — on which she won cookware and hundreds of dollars’ worth of board games — and “Merv Griffin’s Crosswords.” (That prize was a game-themed watch.)
Foster said she and her husband, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Stephen Foster, will use her “Millionaire” winnings in an unglamorous but still exciting way. Knowing that Stephen Foster plans to retire in a couple years, they are paying off their vehicle loans.
Irene Foster told “Millionaire” host Chris Harrison that she had been home-schooling her two sons — ages 10 and 12 — but recently went back to teaching.
She teaches grades 3 through 11 in the Learning Center, where students work on independent-study projects, at Beaufort Christian School.
“Fifteen years ago I married a Marine, and because of that, we’ve moved all over,” she said on last Tuesday’s broadcast.
On the show, Foster breezed through questions about the type of filter Facebook uses to weed out harassing comments (a bully filter); what the Biblical wise man builds his house upon (rock); and which breed of dog was known as a “Liberty Hound” during World War I (dachshund).
She asked a friend in the audience for help with the $3,000 question about a synonym for altruist (philanthropist), and she seemed to make a lucky guess about the names of “American Idol” judges (Katy Perry and Luke Bryan).
“I don’t watch ‘American Idol,’” she said as she tried to work out the answer. “I guess I got it from the commercials.”
After a question about the Zimbabwe president, Foster said she called on her experience as a home-school teacher to say what a “sepal” is (a part of a flower) to get to the $10,000 level.
“Sorry, I’m crying already,” she told Harrison. “I just know I don’t want to lose it at this point.”
Foster asked the audience for help answering the $20,000 question about the colors on a Monopoly board (Atlantic Avenue is yellow, for those playing at home).
Foster returned for Wednesday’s show and an attempt to answer the $30,000 question about Apgar scores, a number used to assess the health of a baby right after it is born.
As part of gameplay, she was able to have the choices narrowed down to two options.
Which of these is NOT one of the five things measured by the Apgar Score System, which assesses the health of an infant just minutes after birth.
- Muscle tone
Foster said she wasn’t sure enough to guess, so she decided to walk away.
“I almost just went for it and said weight,” she said. “You see people all the time guess on the $30,000 and $50,000 question, and if you get them wrong, you go all the way back to $5,000.”
Though much of her deliberation was edited out of the final broadcast, she said she took a long time to decide what to do.
“I’ve gotten this far, I don’t want to ruin it,” she said on the show.
Ultimately, Foster said, she was happy with her decision — even though her guess would have been correct — and she offered some advice for those who want to try their luck on a game show.
“Somebody has to be on these shows. Why not you?” she said. “Just go for it.”
“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” is broadcast weekday mornings on WCSC.