JL Million Pound Question 1

Laurence and Jackie Llewellyn Bowen's original £1,000,000 question, which was later deemed ambiguous.

In Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, a bad question is a question which the producers deemed had an error that affected the contestant's gameplay. Most bad questions fall under one of these categories:

A bad question can also appear in a Fastest Finger First question when it has an answer that, considering the question, can be interpreted in multiple ways, in such a way that affects the correct order.

The production team has been lately warning contestants that if an ambiguous question were to appear, they should choose the best answer.


Calling Out a Bad QuestionEdit

A contestant can object the answer to a question as soon as their game has stopped, either immediately after (such as in Honea's case), or after their show was taped and they returned home (such as in Toutant's case, who sent a friendly mail to the production team pointing out he was victim of a bad question).

As stated in the rules, producers may only bring back contestants at their sole discretion, so being guaranteed a spot back in the game is not always assured.


JL Million Pound Question 2

Jacky and Lawrence Luellen Bowen's second £1,000,000 question, which they decided not to answer.

The way that a contestant would restart their game (if they were allowed back) has varied throughout time. In some cases, the contestant would be awarded the money had they answered correctly and restart their game at that point (as in Honea's case, who received $64,000 and restarted on the next question, $125,000). In other cases, their game would be restarted at a point before the faulty question, usually asking the contestant a question worth whatever they were going for at the time of their loss (as in Jacky and Lawrence's case, who got to play another £1,000,000 question). In any of those two cases, the contestant would have whatever lifelines they had until that point.

At least one time the show gave the contestant the option to receive whatever money they should have won had they answered the bad question correctly, or the option to return to the game and redo the faulty question (the only known person to receive these options is Patrick Hugh, who chose the latter).

Ohappy Andrey Norkin

Andrey Norkin

In O, Schastlivchik! on December 30, 1999 (New Year Special episode) editors made a mistake. Celebrity contestant Andrey Norkin was asked, "What was the name of the magic institute in the movie "Magicians"?" with NUDA, NUINU, NIICHAVO and NIITAVO as options. Andrey answered B, but right answer was C. As result, Andrey went home nothing. Note: This is due to the fact that in the book "Monday begins on Saturday", on which the film "Magicians" was based and filmed, indeed, the NIICHAVO Institute appears (Scientific Research Institute of Sorcery and Wizardry). However, in the film this institute was renamed and called NUINU. In the next program, Andrey was apologized, and he himself was invited to play again, which, incidentally, never happened.

In Russia, on March 5, 2001 a question was asked without the correct option. This is 16,000 rubles question. Yelena Gubar decided to take 8,000 rubles, but Maxim Galkin reported an error and apologized to the participant, telling her that she would continue in the next episode and she starts from the same position in the game. As a result, on March 7, 2001 she won 64,000 rubles.

On August 3, 2001 episode, In Hong Kong version, contestant Tong Yin Man had question with two correct answers. The question was, "How many strokes does the Chinese character "龜" (turtle) has?" with 14 strokes, 16 strokes, 18 strokes and 20 strokes as choices. He guessed C: 18 strokes, but right answer was B: 16 strokes. In the end, both A and B turned out to be correct. Because of this, he left with HK$ 8,000 (first minimum amount). On August 6, 2001 episode, he was again invited to the studio to continue the game and won HK$60,000 (second minimum amount).

WWTBAM UK Stephen Parker

Stephen Parker

In the UK on September 8, 2001 Stephen Parker had a £64,000 question with two correct options. He was asked, "What was the middle name of 18th century-born playwright Richard Sheridan?" with Brinsley, Butler, Blake and Boynton as choices. Stephen answered B, but they've accepted A as the right one. Contestant walked away with £32,000. Actually, the playwright's full name was Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan. Because of editor's mistake, Stephen was invited for the 2nd attempt, aired October 16, 2001 in the studio again where he continued playing with £64,000. He left with £64,000.

Andrey Shakhmatov bad question

Andrey Shakhmatov

In Kazakhstan, on June 8, 2002, biggest audience failed. On 9th question of Andrey Shakhmatov's run (he is the uncle of Yury Kuvshinnikov), 71% voted for wrong choice (Eurasia), but 23% were right (Africa). He as asked, "The largest number of countries on which continent?". Options are North America, Eurasia, South America, Africa. Later it was found out that the computer counted the wrong answer, but 71% of the audience were right. This is one case only in the history of the show, when the computer was wrong. The contestant and his audience member looked at the sources and found out the truth (in 2002, there were 48 countries in Africa, and 73 countries in Eurasia). But two days later the editors phoned and reported an error and said that the player will continue his game with the 10th question in the first game of the new cycle. They also said that the host will not say anything about the error on the air. The contestant continued the game further, and his episode in two weeks aired.

In Germany, in February 2003, there had been some trouble with a question that could not be answered unambiguously. The contestant had stumbled when Günther Jauch asked her the question, "Every rectangle is a ...?". RTL had given four possible answers: A: rhombus, B: square, C: trapezoid and D: parallelogram. However, not only parallelogram was a correct answer, admitted Günther Jauch later in the show, but also trapezoid. The contestant, confused by the strange answers, was finally allowed to appear again.

In Germany, on October 10, 2005, contestant Matthias Pohl (The only contestant, who participated twice in the show because of the error of the editors, since appearance is only allowed once in a lifetime) returned because of the question with four correct answers. €500,000 question was asked, "Which Nobel laureate for physics was multiple national football player of his country?" with A: Gustav Hertz, B: Niels Bohr, C: Pierre Curie and D: Henri Becquerel as options. All options were incorrect. The contestant replied B: Niels Bohr and walked away with €16,000. As a result, it was revealed that such a laureate in the new 30-volume Brockhaus reference book is missing. On October 29, 2005 episode, in the second time, the contestant did not take risks and took €125,000.

In France, on June 18, 2008, a contestant returned from an error during her first appearance on April 14, 2008. The question that was worth €6,000 was, "In Greek mythology, what is ambrosia?". Options are A beverage, A food, A nymph, A garment. The contestant answered "a beverage", but the correct answer was "a food". After the broadcast, the editors found that some beverages are considered food, so the answer "a beverage" is considered accurate. This contestant has returned and the answer has been accepted, so she continued the pyramid of earnings from €6,000. Finally she left with €12,000. This candidate has returned and the answer has been accepted, so she continued the pyramid of earnings from €6,000. Finally she left with €12,000.

Milionerzy Ola Bojarska

Ola Bojarska

On March 16, 2017 Ola Bojarska also had a 10,000 złotys question without the correct option. He as asked, "Which of these didn't appear in the feature film before the presidency?". Options are Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, Lech Kaczyński and Vaclav Havel. Ola answered C, but right answer was D and she walked away with 1,000 złotys (first minimum amount), but she hasn't returned to the studio yet.

In second time, also in Hong Kong version, in pilot episode, contestant Ray Fong had HK$1,000 question with wrong choice. The question was, "With which film Cecilia Cheung was awarded the Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Newcomer?" with King of Comedy, Fly Me to Polaris, The Legend of Speed and Wu Yen as choices. Actually, the correct answer actually was Fly Me to Polaris. Cecilia Cheung was nominated with both King of Comedy and Fly Me to Polaris, but she was awarded for the latter.

Incorrect Answers Accepted as CorrectEdit

Wwtbam error2

Tony Kennedy's question, whose answer, originally deemed correct, later turned out to be wrong.

There are some cases of contestants answering a question originally deemed correct by the production team, but later found out to be wrong. For example, Tony Kennedy was asked, "Theoretically, what is the minimum number of strokes with which a tennis player can win a set?", with 12, 24, 36, and 48 as choices, which he answered as 24 (four shots to win a game, with six games in a set). However, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported the next day that 12 was the correct answer (as a server, acing four times, the minimum required to win a game; as a receiver, the opponent double-faulting on each serve). The show acknowledged, but despite this, Kennedy was allowed to keep his prize money (an eventual £125,000).[1]

Rejecting Bad QuestionsEdit

Rick Rosner

Rick Rosner's question, which he later claimed had no correct answer.

There are some cases of the show disallowing the return of contestants who believed were victims of bad questions. One such case is Rick Rosner's, who was asked for $16,000: "What capital city is located at the highest altitude above sea level?" with choices Mexico City, Quito, Bogota, and Katmandu. Rick answered Katmandu, but turned out to be Quito (Katmandu is about half the altitude of Quito)[2].

However, he claimed that due to the way the question is phrased, the question is asking "What is the highest capital city in the world?", and since La Paz, which is the highest capital, was not listed in the choices, the question had no correct answer and he sued. The show then decided that did not matter: "After reading your letters and reviewing our research, we continue to believe that the answer to your $16,000 question is correct [...] Of the four capital cities given as answer choices, Quito is the highest and, thus, is the correct answer [...] Under these circumstances, we do not believe that a return trip to the show is warranted in your case"[3]. Even though the show rejected it, Rosner insisted and started a letter-campaign[4]. As of 2015, the show has not brought him back.

UK Edit

1. Tony Kennedy (March 8, 1999)

£64,000 (11 of 15) - Not Timed
Theoretically, what is the minimum number of strokes with which a tennis player can win a set?
• A: Twelve • B: Twenty Four
• C: Thirty six • D: Fourty eight
His answer was incorrect. The correct answer was A: Twelve. (assuming one's opponent makes a double fault on every serve)

2. Stephen Parker (September 8, 2001)

£64,000 (11 of 15) - Not Timed
What was the middle name of 18th century-born playwright Richard Sheridan?
"Ask the Audience" lifeline used
• A: Brinsley • B: Butler
• C: Blake • D: Boynton
Ask the Audience Results: A: 28% • B: 22% • C: 30% • D: 20%
The correct answers were both A: Brinsley and B: Butler.

3. Des Lynam and Mary Nightingale (December 25, 2002)

£64,000 (11 of 15) - Not timed
Which word with a theatrical connection derives from the Greek meaning 'to dance'?
• A: Chorus • B: Orchestra
• C: Apron • D: Proscenium
This correct answers were both A: Chorus and B: Orchestra.

4. Laurence and Jackie Llewellyn Bowen (February 11, 2006)

£1,000,000 (15 of 15) - Not timed
Translated from the Latin, what is the motto of the United States?
• A: In God we trust • B: One out of many
• C: All as one • D: Striving together
This was an ambiguous question.

Ireland Edit

1. Shane O'Doherty (June 2001)

IR£250,000 (13 of 15) - Not Timed
Where is the lunula?
'Phone a Friend' lifeline used
• A: Heart • B: Fingernail
• C: Eye • D: Ear
This was an ambiguous question.

US Edit

1. David Honea (August 19, 1999)

$64,000 (11 of 15) - Not Timed
Which of the following Great Lakes is the largest in area?
• A: Lake Huron • B: Lake Michigan
• C: Lake Ontario • D: Lake Erie
Lake Michigan is larger in volume than Lake Huron, but not in area, meaning that David's original answer was correct.

2. Doug Van Gundy (August 19, 1999)

$100 (1 of 15) - Not Timed
What mode of transportation was once nickname the 'iron horse'?
'Ask the Audience' lifeline used
• A: Motorcycle • B: Locomotive
• C: Mechanized Plow • D: Automobile
Ask the Audience Results: A: 8% • B: 77% • C: 8% • D: 7%
The correct answers were both A: Motorcycle and B: Locomotive.

3. Tim Shields (January 2000)

$16,000 (9 of 15) - Not Timed
Alexander Graham Bell's work on what device led him to the invention of the telephone?
• A: Phonograph • B: Mimeograph
• C: Electronic hearing aid • D: Telegraph
None of the four answers were correct.
$250,000 (13 of 15) - Not Timed
Which of the following is a buckeye?
• A: Tree • B: Fish
• C: Bird • D: Deer
The correct answers are Tree and Bird, as a chicken was also called a buckeye as well.

4. Lori Bailey (November 9, 2000)
5. Ed Toutant (January 31, 2001)

$16,000 (9 of 15) - Not Timed
Scientists in England recently genetically altered what vegetable so it glows when it needs water?
'Ask the Audience' lifeline used
• A: Potato • B: Tomato
• C: Cabbage • D: Carrots
Ask the Audience Results: A: 12% • B: 64% • C: 22% • D: 2%
His answer was correct.

6. Pete Booker (Feburary 4, 2001)

$250,000 (13 of 15) - Not Timed
The theme song of which of these TV shows did not become a Top 10 hit on Billboard's pop singles chart?
• A: Mission: Impossible • B: The Rockford Files
• C: Welcome Back, Kotter • D: Dragnet
None of the answers were correct.

7. Father Mike Sciumbato (April 17, 2003)
8. Dick Ebeling (May 5, 2003)
9. Rod Townsend (January 30, 2004)
10. Julianna Suchard (April 9, 2004)
11. Dante Constable (May 5, 2006)

$250,000 (13 of 15) - Not Timed
What element, like water, has an unusual physical property that causes it to expand when it freezes?
• A: Silicon • B: Polonium
• C: Bismuth • D: Fluorine
The correct answers were both A: Silicon and C: Bismuth.

12. Anne Boyd (March 2, 2007)
13. Patrick Hugh (September 25, 2008)

France Edit

1. ? (April 14, 2008)

€6.000 (7 of 15) - Not Timed
In Greek mythology, what is ambrosia?
• A: A beverage • B: A food
• C: A nymph • D: A garment
The correct answers are A: A beverage and B: A food.

2. ? (May 29, 2009)

€48.000 (10 of 15) - Not Timed
Among these historical figures, who was not guillotined during the French Revolution?
• A: Mirabeau • B: Camille Desmoulins
• C: La Fayette • D: Philippe d'Orléans
The correct answers are A: Mirabeau and C: La Fayette.

Russia Edit

1. Andrey Norkin (December 30, 1999)

200 rubles (2 of 15) - Not Timed
What was the name Institute of magic in the film "Magicians"?
His answer was correct.

2. Yelena Gubar (March 5, 2001)

Poland Edit

1. Janusz Kornecki (Unknown date, probably October 2000)

32 000 zł (10 of 15) - Not Timed
Who invented the steam engine exploiting circular motion?
'Phone-a-Friend' lifeline used
• A: James Watt • B: Rudolf Diesel
• C: Thomas Newcomen • D: Charles Algernon Parsons
His answer was correct.

2. Waldemar Jabłoński (Unknown date, probably 2001)

500 zł (4 of 15) - Not Timed
How many cuts are on kaiser rolls?
• A: 3 • B: 4
• C: 5 • D: 6
His answer was correct.

3. Ola Bojarska (March 16, 2017)

10 000 zł (5 of 12) - Not Timed
Which of these president didn't appear in the feature film before the presidency?
• A: Donald Trump • B: Ronald Reagan
• C: Lech Kaczyński • D: Vaclav Havel
There was no correct answer.

Croatia Edit

1. Sunčica Dimić (January 16, 2003)[5][6]

500.000 Kn (14 of 15) - Not timed
Who was not the husband of Alme Mahler?
• A: Franz Kafka • B: Gustav Mahle
• C: Walter Gropius • D: Oscar Kokoschka
The contestant took the 250.000 kuna. She would’ve gone with Gustav Mahle which would’ve been wrong. The correct answers were both Franz Kafka and Oscar Kokoschka.

Czech Republic Edit

1. Karel Lupoměský (December 12, 2000)

1,250,000 Kč (12 of 15) - Not Timed
What is a Roman-army called the military section of 120 to 150 men?
• A: cohort • B: centuries
• C: legion • D: maniple

Germany Edit

1. Matthias Pohl (2005)

India Edit

1. Aditya Singh (September 24, 2005)

Norway Edit

1. Bjørn Øystein (Unknown Date)

100,000 Kr. (10 of 15) - Not timed
What kind of material was the Kon-Tiki fleet built?
• A: Bamboo • B: ?
• C: Balsam • D: ?
The answers were both A: Bamboo and C: Balsam.

Italy Edit

1. Carla Cogo (January 2, 2006)
2. ? (June 8, 2011)

Hong Kong Edit

1. Tong Yin Man (August 3, 2001)

HK$30,000 (8 of 15) - Not Timed
How many strokes does the Chinese character "龜" (turtle) has?
• A: 14 strokes • B: 16 strokes
• C: 18 strokes • D: 20 strokes
The correct answer are both A: 16 and B: 18.

2. Ling Wing Kuen and Ling Shuk Ling (November 9, 2001)

HK$1,000,000 (15 of 15) - Not Timed
Which of the Solar System has only sixteen satellites?
• A: Mars • B: Saturn
• C: Jupiter • D: Uranus
Jupiter had 28 known satellites back then, 16 of them were named.

2. Ray Fong (January 2018)

HK$1,000 (1 of 15) - Not Timed
With which film Cecilia Cheung was awarded the Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Newcomer?
• A: King of Comedy • B: Fly Me to Polaris
• C: The Legend of Speed • D: Wu Yen
The correct answer is actually B. Cecilia Cheung was nominated with both King of Comedy and Fly Me to Polaris, but she was awarded for the latter.
HK$10,000 (6 of 15) - Not Timed
What is the adult single ride fare of Star Ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui during holidays?
• A: HK$3.3 • B: HK$3.5
• C: HK$3.7 • D: HK$3.9
The correct answer is HK$3.7 for upper deck and HK$3.1 for lower deck.
HK$20,000 (7 of 15) - Not Timed
Which of the following is not a weak acid?
• A: Carbonic acid (H2CO3) • B: Nitric acid (HNO3)
• C: Acetic acid (CH3COOH) • D: Citric Acid (C3H4)
The chemical formula of citric acid is C6H8O7.

See also Edit



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