November 9, 2007

School of Medicine student sets sights on game show glory

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VUSM student Andre Boustani on this week’s show. (courtesy of Valleycrest Productions Ltd.)

School of Medicine student sets sights on game show glory

Paying for medical school just got a little easier for Andre Boustani. The first-year Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student was a contestant this week on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” He won $50,000.

Boustani auditioned for the show when it came to his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., over the summer. Once he was chosen to be a contestant, he traveled to New York City in early October to tape the show. At the network's request, he kept the outcome a secret until the show aired.

“It was moderately hard to keep it quiet, but I had fun with it. It's fun to have this little secret that people want to know,” he said.

The game show, hosted by Meredith Vieira, commemorated its 1,000th episode with a weeklong celebration, airing Nov. 5-9. For the first time in the show's history, contestants for this week were able to bypass the first five questions (valued at $100 — $1,000) and were only 10 questions away from winning $1 million. In honor of the 1,000th episode, all contestants for the week were guaranteed to win at least $1,000 in the hot seat.

Boustani said that knowing he would leave with at least $1,000 to cover his travel costs put him at ease as he answered questions.

He plans to use his winnings to fly home to Tulsa to see his girlfriend and family more often, pay off a portion of his student loans, and possibly to take skydiving lessons. He describes the game show experience and his 15 minutes of fame as surreal.

“Competing on a nationally televised game show is something I'd thought about from time to time, but not extremely seriously. Winning copious amounts of sweet Benjamins for doing almost nothing at all, I would say yes, definitely yes, has always been a dream of mine,” Boustani said.