Professor Mary Flaherty Enjoys “Millionaire” Bid

Mary Flaherty felt more like a student than a professor, answering questions instead of giving them, when she recently appeared as a contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

“It was a great and fun experience, but quite nerve-wracking sitting in that hot seat,” said Flaherty, director of the paralegal studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences. “The intensity became stronger with each question.”

In the end, Flaherty was delighted to walk away with $16,000. The question that stumped her was: How many faces does an icosahedron have?

“I called my brother (as one of four lifelines), and he was trying to Google it, but he couldn’t type fast enough,” said Flaherty.

The correct answer: 20.

Flaherty has always been a trivia buff. A graduate of the University of Chicago and Chicago Kent Law School, she remembers playing trivial pursuit with her fellow law students in the cafeteria. In 1998, she was a contestant on Jeopardy, finishing second to
a five-time champion.

“I have so much useless information in my brain, it’s not funny,” said Flaherty.
In order to prepare for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Flaherty took the National Geographic test every day and learned everything she could about American Idol contestants.

“It was just a blast to be part of all this,” she said. It was an exciting time for me and my family. And Meredith Vieira (host of the show) was as warm a person off camera as she was on it. She even commented on my glasses,” which are fire-engine red.

Flaherty had the opportunity to watch herself when the show aired, joined by colleagues and students on campus.