MU student to be on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 | 4:28 p.m. CDT; updated 7:06 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Cassie Belek, a graduate student at the Missouri School of Journalism from Overland Park, Kan., will be a contestant on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” on Friday and the following Monday. Belek said that if she won big, she would repay her parents for helping her pay for school, pay her brother’s loans and move after graduation.

COLUMBIA — Cassie Belek admits that while submitting her video to the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" website, she was wearing sweats.

"I wanted to look nice, with my hair and makeup done, but I didn't want to change my sweats," Belek said.

Her love of trivia has always been a part of her life. Ever since the MU journalism graduate student could remember she has always wanted to be on a game show.

"I just thought, why not try 'Millionaire'?" Belek said.

Belek will be a contestant on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." The show will air at 6:30 p.m. Friday and continue at 6:30 p.m. May 17.

In her video audition, she said if she won a million dollars, she would pay off her student loans and pay for her parents to travel to Europe.

While Belek was in China covering the China Open with the Journalism School, she found out she was in the contestant pool. She said she was not expecting to hear back so soon, let alone be a contestant.

She kept saying, "Am I really a contestant?"

After the exciting news, she began watching the show every day. "I wanted to get comfortable with the format," Belek said about practicing.

She also is a member of a weekly trivia team, which gathers on Wednesdays at Harpo's.

Chad Painter, a member of Belek's trivia team, said he was excited she will be on the show. Painter joked that Belek's only two fears for being on the show were "that she would miss a question and not win anything, or that everyone would treat her differently when she won a million dollars."

He will attend the watch party Belek and her friends are having Friday.

The show was filmed two different times because Belek was the last contestant during the original shooting, so she had to return.

The first time Belek flew out to New York City, she went by herself. The second time, her dad went with her. "I wanted to share in the excitement," said Cassie's father, Joe Belek.

"I was way too nervous to go with her," said Katie Belek, Cassie's mother. "I didn't want her to feel my nerves if I was sitting in the audience."

Both of Belek's parents said they were proud of their daughter.

When asked if she was nervous about being in the "hot seat," Cassie Belek said she was relaxed.

"I knew how the game worked, and I had friends in the audience," she said.

One contestant Cassie Belek met at the show listened to the Millionaire song before bed every night.

"He didn't want the song to make him nervous when he was on the show," Cassie Belek said.

She was also joined by her long-time Notre Dame friend, Doug Schlarman. He lives in New York City and was there during the first taping.

"I wanted to make sure she had someone in the audience cheering for her," Schlarman said.

He was not surprised she was on the show. "She tends to know a lot of useless trivia," he said.

Cassie Belek said she was thankful she had the experience and that she had a lot of fun. She has future hopes of one day being on "Jeopardy!"

Seeing the "behind-the-scenes" action helped her decide what she wanted to do after graduation.

"The associate producers were around my age, and talking with them helped me lean toward production," Cassie Belek said.

She will graduate from the School of Journalism this month and plans to move to Los Angeles to work in television production.

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