EXCLUSIVE: 'Million Dollar Money Drop' Host on Spurned Contestants: 'They Would Have Lost Anyways'
While the 'Million Dollar Money Drop' controversy rages on the internet, host Kevin Pollak tells The Hollywood Reporter that there is an angle to the story that many people are missing -- Gabe Okoye and girlfriend Brittany Mayti legitimately lost the game on the next question anyways.
"They never had a chance to win that money. Ever. No matter what," Pollak tells THR. "They got the last question wrong. None of the clips show the last question."
Instead, what the viral YouTube clips show is the couple in deep despair after losing $800,000 on a Post-it note answer deemed correct days after their elimination on the show. Pollak points out that even if the couple had been awarded the cash for that question, they still would have met the same demise on the show.
"This story is a moot point. They lost everything on the next question. It's a non-story." says Pollak. "There's one aspect of the story that hasn't been covered that much."
Pollak says he is pleased regardless that the couple has been invited to participate on the show again, but not pleased that they are said to be hesitant to return due to the pressure of the show.
"I say right on," he says of the do-over episode. "But now they are saying there's too much pressure? Oh my God! Way to get the country to turn against you."
"That's interesting, they would make such a stink and then ultimately maybe not come back," he says.
Pollak, who took time to speak while promoting the Kevin Pollak Chat Show podcast, says he hasn't been enjoying the controversy even if it has provided publicity for the Fox program due to return on Tuesday, Jan. 4. When asked if the outcry has been fun in any way, he responded, "Oh gosh no."
"There's a lot of talk about this on Twitter when it first broke in the guise of 'this show is awful, look what it's done to these people.' It was all I could do not to Tweet, first and foremost they would have lost anyway."
"To say that this was enjoyable would not be inaccurate."
While the offending research mistake was made by 3M, the company behind Post-it Notes, Pollak says he's even had spirited discussions on the controversy at holiday parties.
"Accosted might be too strong a word, but (I've been) softly confronted, yes," he says. "Most often it was respectful confrontation as opposed to outrage. And ultimately it would turn to this point -- are you enjoying the show otherwise? And that enjoyment is across the board."
For more of this interview, click here.
THR: Have you ever been part of anything like 'Money Drop' before?
Pollak: One of the major surprises about doing a show like this for me is, I have affected people's lives in certain small ways before, but I've never been involved in something that affect people's lives in this way. It's life altering. That's a huge weird part of one's career.
THR: And you have to pick people up when they don't do well.
Pollak: Yah, when they've just lost 800,000 and they still have 80,000, you have to make them realize how monumental that money is. And the only way to do that is to make them let go of the missing money.
THR: Six shows have aired and brought two winners, how does that play out in the future?
Pollak: We have more winners coming up. We come back Tuesday, Jan. 4 following Glee.
THR: Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayti have been invited back, but they are thinking about not coming. Thoughts?
Pollak: That's interesting, they would make such a stink and then ultimately maybe not come back. There's one aspect of the story that hasn't been covered that much. The story is a moot point. They lost everything on the next question. The way the game is played is that you have to risk everything on every question. You can spread it around, but you have to risk it all on every single question. If they had got that (Post-it) one right, if our research from 3M had been accurate, they would have held onto their 800,000 and taken it to the final question -- they still got the final question wrong. They never had a chance to win that money. Ever. No matter what. They got the last question wrong. None of the clips show the last question.
THR: What was the question?
Pollak: According to a Time magazine poll, who is the most trusted newscaster of 2009 -- Brian Williams or Jon Stewart. They would have lost everything on that question anyway. So this is really a non-story. But the producers put that aside. And I say right on. But now that they are saying too much pressure? Oh my God! Way to get the country to turn against you.
THR: Will there be changes in the research department after this?
Pollak: If I were one of the producers, which I'm not, I would have said, all we can do is ask the source what the answer is. So we asked someone at 3M and someone at 3M needs to know that answer. The fact you would have to get the answer from the company and then say, okay now we have to really find out. Doesn't this technically mean we're 'off the hook?' And yet the show is on the hook.
THR: Is the controversy fun at all?
Pollak: Oh gosh no. I have been reminded of the adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity. There's a lot of talk about this on Twitter when it first broke in the guise of this show is awful, look what's it done to these people. It was all I could do not to Tweet, first and foremost, they would have lost it anyway. But I couldn't. To say that was enjoyable would not be inaccurate.
THR: Have you been accosted at Christmas parties?
Accosted might be too strong a word, but softly confronted yes. Most often it was respectful confrontation as opposed to outrage. And ultimately it would be, are you enjoying the show otherwise? And that enjoyment is across the board.
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