A Winning Strategy: Kathleen Warnock ’80

If you’re ever in the position of having to choose teammates, pick Kathleen Warnock.

Not only was she calm and collected in “the hot seat” on ABC’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” she walked away from the game with a cool $50,000.

“I’m a big fan of game shows,” said Warnock, an editor with Frommers travel guides in New York who graduated from UMBC with a degree in interdisciplinary studies in 1980.

Warnock may be understating her devotion a bit. In fact, she has appeared on no less than four trivia game shows – from an obscure VH1 flop to the heights of gamedom, Jeopardy – always leaving at least a little richer than when she arrived.

Warnock seems the perfect candidate for tests of random knowledge. In addition to her work as a travel editor, she’s a playwright – one of her shows, “Grieving for Genevieve,” will be performed in New York this summer – and she’s a contributing editor with ROCKRGRL magazine. While a student at UMBC, she acted as sports editor and editor-in-chief of the Retriever, minored in ancient studies, and even took a stab at fencing.

But her winnings on the daytime version of “Millionaire” in March blew all of her other game show appearances away. Warnock attributes her good fortune to the fact that she was able to sit in on a taping before hitting the hot seat herself.

“I had a chance to spend the day watching and coming up with my strategy,” which was to use all the tools provided to her, she said. “I used all of my life lines, and all of them got me further along in the game.”

Warnock breezed through the early rounds, easily answering questions concerning compote and geldings. When a tough math question came up, however, she called her first life line, her brother-in-law, a science teacher in Montgomery County. Later on in the game, the audience helped her correctly narrow down the answer to a question about a NATO embassy bombing and up the stakes to $25,000.

After successfully using up her final strategic play – the option of switching one question for another – Warnock finally met her match with the following $100,000 question: What planet was once named “Georgium Sidus” in honor of England’s King George III?

Really, now. Does anyone know the answer to that? (It’s Uranus, by the way.)

“It was like, OK, it’s time to go home,” said Warnock, happy enough with the fifty grand. “And I walked away a winner.”

– Jenny O’Grady
Originally posted May 2005

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