SOU student wins big on game show

A Southern Oregon University student walked away from her second day on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" with a cool $250,000.

Brianne Sherman, 21, claimed her quarter-million in winnings after making it all the way up to the $500,000 question on Tuesday's episode of the popular game show. Sherman's prowess made her the biggest winner yet this season.

"I am so thrilled and grateful," said the French and International Studies major, before receiving her final question.

In an emotion-filled ending, Sherman used her last lifeline, "Ask The Expert," on the $500,000 question, which was: "Contrary to popular belief, Robert E. Lee's historic surrender took place not in a courthouse building, but in what family's Virginia home?"

Sherman's options were: A. The O'Neills; B. The Thompsons; C. The McLeans; D. The Harrisons.

The show's "expert," Rene Syler, was unable to give Sherman the correct answer (The McLeans).

"My expert advice is to take the money and run," said Syler.

Out of lifelines and unsure of the correct answer, Sherman agreed. She opted out of taking a guess and walked away with the guaranteed $250,000 that she had already won.

"That's what I'm going to do," Sherman said with a smile and a nod.

If Sherman had guessed incorrectly on the $500,000 question, she would have fallen back to $25,000 in winnings.

Sherman said the main reason she wanted to go on "Millionaire" was to make her mom, Nanette McDonald, proud. She also hoped to win enough money to send the single mom of three daughters on a long-deserved vacation. In addition to that, Sherman plans on paying her own college bills and wants to help with her two younger sisters' schooling.

Now that she's won?

"I'll do what I said I was gonna do," Sherman said Tuesday afternoon en route to a television interview. Sherman planned to celebrate her win at a party that night at the Ashland sushi restaurant where she works.

The pragmatic part-time waitress also said she's "going to just pretend like I don't have (the money)."

Sherman started in the hot seat on Monday's show, where she made it up to the $1,000 question. She continued as a holdover contestant on Tuesday's show where she started by looking at the $2,000 question with all four lifelines ("Ask The Audience," "Double Dip," "Phone A Friend" and "Ask The Expert") still intact.

Sherman used her "Ask The Audience" lifeline on the $4,000 question, which was: "Which of these classic sitcoms is set in the U.S. city that is located farthest south? A. 'Happy Days'; B. 'Frasier'; C. 'The Golden Girls'; D. 'Cheers.'" Sherman went with the advice of 95 percent of the audience who had correctly guessed the answer to be "C." "The Golden Girls" is set in Miami, Fla.

"I knew that was one they would know right off the bat," Sherman said. "I'd never seen 'Golden Girls' or 'Happy Days.' I didn't grow up watching TV at all. I just knew the audience would know it."

Sherman did not use another lifeline until her $250,000 question, which was: "Which of the following is not a name given by astronomers to a geographical location on the moon? A. Sea of Clouds; B. Ocean of Glass; C. Sea of Nectar; D. Ocean of Storms." Sherman first used her "Phone A Friend" lifeline and called her friend Bob Shore, a lawyer from Los Angeles and former "Jeopardy" contestant. Shore was able to rule out "C" and "D" as options.

Sherman then decided to use her "Double Dip" lifeline and guessed the answer to be "B." She didn't need to use her second guess, because "B" was the correct answer.

"The double dip allows you to eliminate two incorrect answers," said Sherman.

At this point in the game, a composed Sherman became emotional in the hot seat. Sherman's mom was standing by as a potential "Phone A Friend." Since Sherman didn't end up using her mom for the lifeline, host Meredith Vieira decided to get her on the phone, just to let her know that her daughter was about to look at the $500,000 question.

"I was just really excited. It was pretty amazing. I went so much farther than I thought I would," Sherman said.

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