In this jackpot, half's not bad at all

Game show: Michael Shutterly might not be a millionaire, but the former Maryland resident can't complain.

August 27, 1999|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,SUN STAFF

If you're a contestant in the waning days of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?", it might not be a bad idea to have a Wells Fargo truck standing by.

Michael Shutterly, a 46-year-old Richmond, Va., attorney and former resident of Elkridge and Ellicott City, won $500,000 Wednesday on the hit ABC-TV quiz show, which airs tonight through Sunday before its two-week trial run comes to a close.

It was the largest one-time cash prize in the history of American television, excluding lotteries, according to the show's publicists.

The previous record was held by fiddler Doug Van Gundy, who won $250,000 on last Friday's show.

"I'm tired -- but happy and tired," said Shutterly yesterday, while fielding calls from well-wishers and media.

As for his reaction to winning so much cash, Shutterly, 46, added: "To be honest, it hasn't really sunk in yet. Intellectually, I look at my paycheck and I look at $500,000 and ... I know it's a lot of money.

"Inside, though, it's still hard for me to relate to that. Maybe if they came here and started stacking dollar bills, I could absorb it."

With his wife Margaret in the studio audience, Shutterly fielded this question for $500,000: "What was the real name of Pope John Paul I, who served as Pope for about a month in 1978?"

The possible answers listed were: Albino Luciani, Eugenio Pacelli, Guiseppe Sarto and Giovanni Braschi.

Shutterly correctly answered Albino Luciani, although not before "showing off a little" by explaining that Pacelli, Sarto and Braschi had each also gone on to become pope.

As for how he knew Albino Luciani was the correct answer, Shutterly said: "I just remembered it from when he was pope."

Shutterly declined to risk his winnings and take a shot at the million dollar question, which was this: "On Feb. 22, 1989, what group won the first Grammy award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance?"

The possible answers listed were Metallica, AC/DC, Living Colour and Jethro Tull.

"If I had to guess, I would have guessed Metallica," said Shutterly, who said he would have excluded Tull because he didn't consider the group Heavy Metal.

Naturally, the correct answer was: Jethro Tull.

Actually, of the 14 questions he answered correctly, the one that gave him the most trouble was: Which port did the Titanic sail out of?

He correctly answered Southampton, but used one of his three "lifelines" to remove two of the incorrect answers from the board.

Shutterly, who claims to be "pretty retentive," had been on game shows before.

In 1988, he was a four-game winner on "Jeopardy!" and won $49,200 and a double-decker stove.

Two years later, he appeared on "Trump Card," a general knowledge quiz show that was syndicated briefly on ABC.

One thing's for sure: Shutterly has chosen a classic, all-American way to celebrate his big win.

He and Margaret and their three boys are headed for Disney World.

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