Everyone who attended the taping two weeks ago of the debut episode of Power of 10, a new TV game show, was sworn to secrecy about the outcome.
Which meant that, true to her word, Sue Massie hadn’t told anyone how her son, 19-year-old Jamie Sadler, did as the show’s first contestant. And she remained tightlipped even as a couple of dozen family members and friends began assembling in the high-ceilinged TV room of her Fair Haven home to watch the network broadcast Tuesday night.
“Obviously, he won money,” she tells redbankgreen. “But whether it was $10,000, or more, or less, I’m not saying.
“Even my husband doesn’t know,” she adds offhandedly, referring to Jamie’s stepfather, Ken Massie.
“She just didn’t say, and I didn’t want to push,” Ken says with a shrug.
Jamie, a lanky golf nut with the easygoing demeanor of Jimmy Stewart, is about to enter his second year of pre-med studies at the University of Florida at Gainesville. He’s resided in Upper Montclair with his father (and show ‘lifeline’), Hal, since his parents divorced some years back. He’s spent the summer between Upper Montclair and Fair Haven doing a mix of jobs: caddying at the Glen Ridge Country Club, waiting on tables, and helping Ken, a residential contractor.
But Jamie spent his childhood in Fair Haven, and it’s here, nestled on a sofa with his girlfriend and surrounded by a throng of his siblings and cohorts, that he has come to celebrate his prime-time moment.
Nestled in his lap is his girlfriend and Montclair High classmate Daryn Carp, a self-described “game show freak” whose desire to see how a show audition works led to Sadler’s appearance on the show.
“I brought my boyfriend along with me,” she says. “He was just kind of there with me.” After an audition, he was picked, and she wasn’t.
The show is built on the results of earlier polls of thousands of Americans. Contestants are asked to guess, within a range, what percentage of respondents gave particular responses to questions, some of them goofballs.
Looking completely at ease on the cool blue set with show host Drew Carey, khaki-clad Sadler picks up his first $1,000, and eliminates his only opponent, by guessing that 41 percent of Americans thought that Vin Diesel, rather than Rudolf Diesel, invented the diesel engine. Answer: 25 percent, so Sadler is safely within the first-round range of 40 percentage points.
His pile grows to $10,000 when he guesses that 42 percent of Americans told pollsters that elementary school students should be required to learn Spanish. Allowable range: 30 points. Answer: 21 percent.
By the first commercial break, Sadler has quickly vaulted to within three rounds of a $10 million top prize. redbankgreen asks the Massies’ guests about their level of suspense.
“My heart’s beating like crazy,” says Jamie’s sister, Jenny. “It’s painful,” someone calls out. “It’s sick,” says a young man seated on the floor.
The $100,000 round calls for Sadler’s estimate of the percentage of Americans who thought that, in a duel with Vice President Dick Cheney, they’d end up getting shot. Sadler is within the 20-percentage-point margin of the answer: 43 percent.
Drew Carey: “We just gave a 19-year-old a hundred grand.” The TV audience starts chanting, “Ja-mie! Ja-mie!”
For the million-dollar prize, the question is, ‘What percentage of American women consider themselves feminists?’
Now, as before, if he calls it quits, Sadler gets to keep his winnings. But if he plays on and gives a wrong answer, the ‘power of 10’ in reverse will cut his take back to $10,000.
“If I wasn’t sure of the answer, I’d walk away,” Carey tells Sadler in a refreshing burst of candor.
But Sadler isn’t the least bit daunted. “It’s CBS’ money,” he tells Carey, flashing a million-dollar smile. Game on.
Another commercial. Sadler tells his friends that, during these breaks in the taping, which would often last half an hour or longer, he’d be surrounded by security guards so no one, including his mom, who wanted to give him some water, could speak to him or approach him.
Now, nobody in the room seems eager to ask him to give away the show’s ending. When the program comes back on, Ken and Sue are tightly holding hands in anticipation.
Sadler’s guess is that 23 to 33 percent of American women consider themselves feminists. And the correct answer is… well, that’s not specified, but Sadler is within the the 10-point range.
He’s just won a million dollars. The room erupts. High-fives for the kid on the couch in the trucker’s cap.
In the end, Sadler decides not to risk the money for a shot at $10 million. In this, he appears to have been influenced by Sue. The camera has been cutting to her in the audience, where she’s been frantically drawing her fingers across her throat and begging her son to quit.
Just like that, a millionaire is born.
Sadler tells us that the money, which will be doled out over ten years, will go for college and medical-school costs; he’s hoping to become an orthopedic surgeon. He’s only worked one day caddying in the past two weeks, he admits, and Ken who “wanted to be surprised with the rest of the kids” by the show’s outcome says he doesn’t expect Jamie back on his truck anytime soon.
“I think it’s a true blessing,” he says of his stepson’s good fortune. “It’s a little scary, and a little humbling. But he’s a good kid. He’ll make the right decisions.”
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