Boston was abuzz yesterday about a Massachusetts lawyer named Mary Flaherty. Did she win a big verdict? No. Did she earn acquittal for a notorious criminal defendant? No. Did she close a major corporate transaction? No.
Instead, what made Flaherty the talk of the Boston-area media was her appearance this week on the television game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." In a week in which the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" made off with eight Oscars, Flaherty took her shot at becoming the Jamal Malik of the Massachusetts bar. Flaherty, an associate professor at Suffolk University and director of its Paralegal Studies Program, told The Boston Globe that this was not her first turn at a TV trivia show; she was on "Jeopardy!" 10 years ago. And appropriately so. In her hometown newspaper, the Gloucester Daily Times, she described herself as someone whose brain is full of "useless trivia."
So did this trivia-full Massachusetts attorney make it to millionaire status? She cruised through her first four questions, without using a single lifeline, easily racking up $16,000. Then came this question: "The fortune-telling die inside a standard Magic 8 Ball is an icosahedron, meaning it has how many triangular faces?" The Gloucester Daily Times recounts what happened next:
Flaherty first called her brother Christopher Flaherty, of Silver Spring, Md., who at first told his sister he didn't know the answer, but in the last second before the call was disconnected, suggested the answer to be "20."
Flaherty wasn't confident of Christopher's answer (which in the end was the correct choice) and opted to ask the audience, but when the studio audience's vote was evenly spread among the four answers, Flaherty was not convinced and decided not to answer the question and walk away with the guaranteed $16,000 despite having two more lifelines left.
Alas, Flaherty's was not the fairy tale rags-to-riches story of "Slumdog Millionaire." Had she won $1 million, she said, she would have bought an accessible home for her fiance, who is confined to a wheelchair. Instead, she'll use her winnings to take her family on a trip to Finland.
Honestly now: Had it been you, would you have known how many sides there are on a icosahedron?
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 27, 2009 at 10:39 AM | Permalink
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