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Archive for Monday, March 31, 2008

Contestant this week on ‘Millionaire’ hails from Bonner Springs

George Cooper, of Bonner Springs, talks with "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" host Meredith Vieira during a recent taping of the show. Cooper's episode will air on Friday afternoon on KSHB-TV, Sunflower Broadband channel 14.

George Cooper, of Bonner Springs, talks with "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" host Meredith Vieira during a recent taping of the show. Cooper's episode will air on Friday afternoon on KSHB-TV, Sunflower Broadband channel 14.

March 31, 2008

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Bonner Springs residents can watch one of their own try to win a million dollars on television this week.

George Cooper, a power plant supervisor for the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, last fall auditioned for and was selected to appear for a taping of the TV game show "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire."

Cooper auditioned for the show in Martin City, Mo., after he saw an ad for it and a friend encouraged him.

"My buddy said, 'Heck, yeah, you know all that useless information,' " the 53-year-old Cooper said.

So he rode his motorcycle to the tryout, where so many other would-be contestants gathered.

After standing in line for nearly three hours, Cooper had to answer 30 questions in 10 minutes - and only miss two. Cooper put the experience out of his mind, but then got the call to fly to New York City to tape the show.

Cooper said he couldn't reveal exactly how he did on the show, which will air at 4 p.m. Friday on KSHB, Sunflower Broadband channel 14.

"I did good," Cooper said. "I'm happy."

Cooper credits his frequent visits to the library and general love of reading for helping him earn a spot on "Millionaire."

"My main support was the best librarians in the world, at Bonner Springs," said Cooper, a U.S. Navy veteran. "I've worked everywhere - I have library cards from all over the world."

Cooper mentioned Bonner Springs' library on the show, and the names of several librarians there, he said.

Cooper said he is a history buff, but "I read dang near anything. : If they had a thing such as Readers Anonymous, I'd be there."

Sadly, on the game show "the question I missed was a book question," Cooper said. "I was knocking them out of the park. Then they threw one at my head, and it buckled my knees."

However far Cooper got and however much money he won on the show, his appearance will be memorable for regular viewers of the show. Cooper, a lifelong Wyandotte County resident, speaks with a Midwestern drawl. And as he was wondering aloud what to wear for the show, Cooper said a friend, Lois Emaree, told him, "Coop, just be yourself and wear your bib overalls."

Cooper said competing on the show in front of a studio audience didn't make him nervous. "I was surprisingly calm," he said.

Cooper, who still hopes to someday appear on his favorite show, "Jeopardy!," said he plans to retire next year and to use his game-show winnings for a "war chest" to run for city council or mayor.

Jesse Truesdale, reporter for the Bonner Springs Chieftain, can be reached at (913) 422-4048.

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