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Crookston professor wants to be a 'Millionaire'

John Loegering

CROOKSTON -- John Loegering can't reveal -- or even hint -- how he fared during his appearance on the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" quiz show.

But the University of Minnesota, Crookston wildlife ecologist was banding birds at 4 a.m. last week, so he apparently didn't win enough to give up his day job.

Loegering taped the TV show in New York City on Nov. 2, and has kept his lips zipped since. At 4 p.m. on June 28, his performance will be revealed on KXJB-TV (Channel 4).

"I can't disclose a thing about the outcome," he said. "They told us that they can take away any money if you tell anyone. They like to maintain the suspense."

As a high school graduation present, John and wife Lisa took son Luke to New York for a Broadway show in May 2011. Luke also saw the trip as a way to pay for college by taking a written test that determines guests on "Millionaire."

Luke didn't make it, but Dad did, returning to New York six months later for the taping.

The 47-year-old Loegering has a doctorate, but his schooling doesn't necessarily mesh with game show questions.

"I'm a fairly learned person, but my knowledge is narrow," he said. "Ask about literature, the social sciences or pop culture and I'd be dead. I'm a science geek.

"A show producer said it's all about paying attention over the last 20 years. You have to have a diverse experience. The test was really broad -- a mile wide but only an inch deep."

The changes in "Millionaire" go beyond being a daytime show rather than being aired in prime time. The show was an immediate hit when it landed America in 1999 after stints elsewhere on the globe. It spawned popular catch phrases such as "Is that your final answer?" and "phone-a-friend" and "I need to use a lifeline."

Google and high-speed Internet has eliminated the "phone-a-friend" option. The new version has other differences, such as the difficulty of the questions and the money earned doesn't necessarily increase with each round.

Loegering will tell you that hostess Meredith Vieira is as pleasant as she appears, that five shows are taped in one day with the same studio audience and that it "was a once in a lifetime experience."

But he won't tell you how he fared.

"Even if you get the first question wrong, they pay you $1,000 for travel expenses," he said. "So the worst-case scenario is that you break even on a fabulous trip."