Gurney's Inn
May 16, 2007

In WestHampton Beach: (He) Wants To Be A Millionaire

If you watched "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" last week and think you saw a familiar face, you're right: That is Steve Rosmarin, a realtor at Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Westhampton Beach.

Anyone checking out Rosmarin's website will notice the first thing he says about himself is not that he's a businessman, but that he's "Taly's dad." The site also features Talia's photo.

Rosmarin's clearly a father devoted to his daughter. And so it's no wonder that when Talia, who lives in Vermont but spends her summers on the East End, suggested her dad try out for "Millionaire," despite the fact that he hadn't seen the show since the departure of Regis Philbin, Rosmarin figured he'd give it a go.

"My daughter put me up to it," he said. "She made me take the test. She thought it was really cool."

Rosmarin, meanwhile, said he didn't know what he was getting into when he headed to ABC's New York studios to take the test; he hadn't tuned in since "Millionaire" made the move from primetime to daytime and Meredith Vieira got the hosting gig.

The test itself, which consisted of approximately 50 questions, said Rosmarin, "did not seem that difficult. It was pretty straightforward. I kind of flew through it."

And before he knew it, Rosmarin was selected to tape the show in January – but, because of a signed non-disclosure form, common practice for all contestants, he was unable to breathe of word of what transpired for months. "I couldn't reveal what successes or failures I had."

Until this week: The show aired last Wednesday, and Rosmarin is finally free to share his "Millionaire" experience with friends and family.

Rosmarin's strengths lie in history and geography. "I've been in the travel industry for 20 years, so I can pretty much do circles around people when it comes to geography, cities, airport codes – ask me anything and I can give it to you."

But he said "Millionaire" queries contain a plethora of pop culture references, not his strong suit.

It wasn't, however, an obscure Rolling Stones reference or a Kurt Cobain query that left Rosmarin in a quandary. "I blew it on a goofy question," he said. "I didn't do well because I really didn't know the game. I didn't understand the strategy."

And so, when hit with a $16,000 question involving a Latin term Rosmarin didn't recognize, rather than use his phone-a-friend-lifeline, he took a shot.

"I chose to guess something, instead of using my phone-a-friend, my brother, who is a doctor and would have known this question. I didn't have a clue."

Torn between whether the Latin term mentioned meant biting one's fingernails and twirling one's hair, Rosmarin went for the latter. "I chose twirling the hair because biting fingernails seemed too obvious."

Sadly, the audience was trying to help, to no avail. "You can't see the crowd, because the lights are so bright, but people told me later that half the crowd was chewing on their fingernails," he laughed.

And so Rosmarin left with $1000 in winnings – and a lifetime of memories.

First off, he said, the experience was both "nerve-wracking and rewarding." Having spent two days at the studio, by the second day he felt like a veteran.

"It was a blast. It was a singular moment in my life – really, really fun."

Highlights included meeting host Meredith Vieira when he finally made it to the hot seat. "She was so gracious. This is a woman who can make anybody feel instantly at home. She wrote a personalized card, thanking me for my participation, asking me to give her regards to my daughter, Talia. That was really sweet, and the most important souvenir I have of the show."

Rosmarin noted that since the show moved its time slot, winnings are less, and the questions "far more challenging."

And now, for all of Rosmarin's friends and family who've been dying of suspense for months, the wait to find out how he did is over. He hosted a viewing party last week at Magic's Pub, where the results were revealed. "They didn't know whether I won a million dollars."

One viewer who wasn't at the party was Rosmarin's daughter – it was a school day, and she was in Vermont. But despite the fact that he didn't make it to a million, Rosmarin considers himself a winner, because he's made a memory both he and his daughter will treasure forever.

And, he said, Rosmarin plans to share his winnings with his daughter. "She was my inspiration."

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