On Monday and Tuesday this week, 1997 Lexington High School graduate Tom Colatosti appeared on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” with his fiancé, Amber Cox. They were guests on a special wedding edition, and after walking away from the $25,000 question and receiving a free Monique Lhuillier dress, Colatosti figures they won about $30,000 all told in cash and prizes.
Tom Colatosti’s 15 minutes of fame actually lasted a bit longer after landing on a national game show that added $16,000 to his wedding budget.
On Monday and Tuesday this week, the 1997 Lexington High School graduate appeared on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” with his fiancé, Amber Cox. They were guests on a special wedding edition, and after walking away from the $25,000 question (“Thought to bring good luck, brides in India traditionally wear what color on their wedding day?”*) and receiving a free Monique Lhuillier dress, Colatosti figures they won about $30,000 all told in cash and prizes.
“We’ve been sitting on this for a couple months now … I kind of liked not telling people about it,” he said. The show was filmed in October; they auditioned in August.
Part of the deal is that they can’t tell anyone what, or if, they won. Not even his own mother, Nancy, who lives on East Emerson Road, knew the results Monday morning. And for the record, she told me Tom is marrying “a wonderful young woman.”
The two met while at a conference for work in February 2006. On the day of the big proposal, Colatosti made dinner and dessert and tied the ring to the collar on their cat, Bella. During dessert, served on their patio, he opened the door and planned on Bella jumping out into Cox’s arms. Instead, Bella beelined for the bed and took the collar off.
“In my mind it was the best idea ever. And in actual execution, in retrospect, it was probably a dumb idea,” he said.
His fiancé read about the “Millionaire” audition on a wedding Web site last summer. An audition was being held about 45 minutes away from their Arlington, Va. home. After some tests and on-camera interviews, they got the word a few weeks later.
The pressure to be on national television was heightened, Colatosti said, because he and Cox told their friends about the show. His first goal: “Not to look like an idiot.” Goal two: Win money.Easier said than done.
“It’s a different story in that chair. You start to question everything [like your own middle name],” Colatosti said.
But the show’s host, Meredith Vieria, helped put them at ease during the commercial breaks and “was really inviting.”
That didn’t stop him from wanting to kick himself after that last question.
With the pressure on and no lifelines left, the future Colatostis went back and forth over the answers for their question about the Indian wedding dress. Did red, black, green, or blue bring good luck? And one of their phone-a-friends, Cox’s grandfather, was Indian.
“We keyed in on [the correct] answer, but now they only give you 30 seconds, including her reading the question … so there’s only about 15 seconds left,” Colatosti said.
Knowing this, I asked Colatosti five high-pressure questions of my own.
1. Who was your favorite teacher from Lexington? “Dick Shohet — An English teacher, but he taught theology in literature. He helped me stretch my thinking.” Correct.
2. What is your favorite vegetable? “Broccoli.” Correct.
3. What am I thinking right now? “How amazingly witty and intelligent I am.” Incorrect — Did I leave the iron on?
4. What was your first clue that you were going to marry Amber? “About a year and a half into dating, we took a great trip together to California, and I knew there was no one else I wanted to be on that trip with.” Correct.
5. Who would you invite to your wedding: Regis Philbin or Meredith Vieria? “Meredith Vieria, because I feel like Regis would want to be the star of the show at my wedding.” Incorrect — Regis Philbin.
*And in case you’re curious, Indian brides wear red on their wedding day to bring good luck.
Bryan Mahoney is the editor of the Lexington Minuteman. When he’s not pressing people to see if they can read his mind, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.