History of the Game “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” - US version

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire first aired in the U.S. on August 16, 1999. Adapted from the British TV show of the same name, the popular U.S quiz show is one of the longest-running and most successful game shows of all time. As the first ever American game show to offer an ultimate prize of $1,000,000; Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is one of the most lucrative game shows in history.


Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is known for employing strong and talented hosts starting with Regis Philbin who hosted the original U.S version of the show from 1999 until 2002. In 2002 the show was syndicated and the updated version was hosted by Meredith Vieira for a whopping 11 seasons from September 2002 until May 2013. Cedric the Entertainer went on to host the 2013-14 season and was followed up by Terry Crews who hosted the show over the 2014-15 season.

Currently the show is hosted by Chris Harrison who took over from Terry Crews and has been hosting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire since September 2015. Due to the show’s reputation for brilliant hosting, this job is certainly somewhat daunting for any newcomer. Thankfully Harrison is a seasoned professional and many will recognise him from his 13 seasons of hosting the smash-hit reality romance series ‘The Bachelor / Bachelorette’. Harrison also hosted all the Bachelor spin-offs such as ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ as well as ‘After Paradise’.

In addition to his career as a world-famous reality romance host, Harrison has an impressive hosting résumé that includes: the ‘Emmys Red Carpet Live’, ‘American Music Awards Red Carpet Live!’ and the ‘Road to the 60th Primetime Emmy® Awards’, amongst others. He’s also been hosting ‘Miss America’ for a number of years.

Million Dollar Winners

1999 John Carpenter became the first person in USA to win the $1,000,000.
2000 Five people managed to make it to the $1,000,000 top prize: Dan Blonsky, Joe Trela, Bob House, Kim Hunt, and David Goodman.
2001 Five months into season there had been no top prize winners, so the producers decided to increase the top prize by $10,000 per episode until it was won. The accumulated jackpot of $2,180,000 was eventually won by Kevin Olmstead. After Olmstead’s win the top prize returned to the standard $1,000,000 and was won twice more in 2001: Bernie Cullen and Ed Toutant.
2003 Kevin Smith and Nancy Christy were the only two contestants to answer all 15 questions correctly this year.
2009 The show hosted a special Million Dollar Tournament of Ten during which Sam Murray was the only contestant to get the correct answer and walk away with $1,000,000.


  • Two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show (2000 and 2001).
  • Regis Philbin, who hosted the show from 1999 to 2002 won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Game Show Host in 2001.
  • Meredith Vieira, who hosted from 2002 until 2013 received two Daytime Emmy Awards (2005 and 2009)
  • In 2001, TV Guide the show was ranked №7 on its list of the 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time list.
  • In 2013, TV Guide ranked the show №6 on its 60 Greatest Game Shows list.
  • In 2006, GSN ranked Who Wants to Be a Millionaire №5 on its list of the 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time.
  • In 2007 GSN paid tribute the show on its Gameshow Hall of Fame special.

The knowledge-based game “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” is now available online. The game is aimed at knowledge enthusiasts who love an intellectual challenge. We invite you to play and earn your first million dollars with the power of your mind!