It could be a lottery, a casino jackpot, a sweepstakes or a game show. In a few seconds an unknown man or woman becomes a millionaire. It's a dream come true. Debts are erased. Everyone's your friend. The sky's the limit. But what really happens? Do dreams come true? Can money erase problems? Can money buy happiness? Or does instant income have a hidden price tag?
In Instant Millionaires we'll see how the popularity of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and the thrill of winning huge sums of money is spreading game-show fever all around the world. There's Big Brother in England, Germany, and Italy, the Lottery Game show in Germany, and even TGI Friday, the successful UK show. They've introduced a segment called "Someone's Going to Be a Millionaire," where random contestants are only three questions away from a million pounds. Ian
Woodley, an unemployed father living on public assistance, was the lucky winner who became England's first TV game show millionaire. We'll watch the big moment when he wins on television. We'll meet Ian today, and see his new lifestyle of leisure. He's driving around London in a new red convertible, and playing snooker with friends while the rest of us work. Even Posh Spice is giving him advice on managing his windfall!
It's everyone's dream to hit the jackpot in Vegas, and the Megabucks slot machines promise jackpots beyond anyone's wildest dreams. In Instant Millionaires we'll meet a post office manager, John Tippen, who hit it big time in 1996. With a pull of the lever, lights flash and bells clang over his Hilton slot machine, and suddenly John is $11 million dollars richer. We'll relive the heart-thumping moment of John's big win, and see how he and his wife were whisked up to a palatial suite valued at $45 million. They received the royal treatment, including two butlers, limousines, and a private invitation from Mr. Hilton himself. We'll see John on his whirlwind publicity tour, from "Oprah" to "Good Morning America." But we'll also discover the downside of overwhelming attention and wealth. We'll see how scam artists and greedy outsiders forced John and his wife into seclusion. Today John is writing a book on his fascinating story of sudden wealth. We'll visit him in his spectacular Hawaiian home, where he and his wife share a life of dreams.
And in Instant Millionaires we'll meet the lottery winners who beat the odds and walked away with millions. We'll visit 64 year old Doug Wood of Southend, Essex. He'd been scraping by on 42 pounds per week when he became one of UK's big winners in 1995. We'll see how Wood won 2.6 million pounds, tax-free, playing the lottery. Charismatic and eccentric, we'll discover how Doug adopted a carefree lifestyle and became extremely generous, giving away nearly half of his winnings to friends and charities. We'll follow him to the horse races, driven by one of his two female chauffeurs. And we'll discover what it's like going from scrimping and saving to Caribbean vacations and extravagant spending sprees.
All across America, people receive "Publisher's Clearing House" sweepstakes in the postal delivery. For most, it's junk mail. But for a select few, it's a ticket to millions. In Instant Millionaires we'll meet Pamela Barden, a Texas mother of three who sent in her sweepstakes hoping for little, but receiving a lot -- $10 million dollars. She's still adjusting to the big win from just a few years back, and discovering what it's like to have anything money can buy. But she's got her priorities straight. Pamela's taking care of her children, traveling to places she's longed to visit, and now she's planning to build a retreat center to help others. As a family therapist, Pamela understands the importance of not losing connections with the things that money can't buy. We'll see how Pamela is balancing her riches with her personal values.