We can all agree. Sports are entertaining.
So, working in sports is like working in the entertainment industry. But one Astros front office employee recently got to experience a different side of the entertainment world.
Abby Brantley was not only a contestant on an episode of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” that aired on Friday, Dec. 13, but she walked away with $24,000. Brantley, who is a controller for the Astros and lives in Pearland but grew up in Sweeny, auditioned for the show with her dad at the Crowne Plaza near Reliant Stadium way back in July 2012, but she didn’t hear from them until over a year later.
“I got a phone call from the show on a Wednesday in September 2013, and they asked if I could be in New York the next Wednesday for the taping,” Brantley said. “I said yes, before I even looked at the dates, and luckily my bosses were gracious enough to let me go on such short notice. “
Brantley had to arrive at the studio on Park Avenue at 7 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday of that week. There were 8-10 contestants each day, and the order of the tapings were selected at random. So, there was a lot of sitting around and waiting in the green room, especially for Brantley, who wasn’t chosen on the first day but was one of the first to tape on Thursday.
“In the green room, the only thing we could do was watch old episodes of Millionaire or talk to each other,” Brantley said. “They took away our cell phones, so we got to know each other pretty well.
“I was pretty nervous waiting on Wednesday, but I knew what to expect when I came back on Thursday, so I was less nervous. When I was actually taping the show, I don’t remember what I was thinking. It was all a blur, and I didn’t remember anything I said until I watched it on TV.”
Brantley said the host, Cedric the Entertainer, helped put her at ease during the taping, which took about 20-30 minutes. She used all three lifelines within the first four questions.
“I got some tough questions at first, and I was a little more conservative about guessing because a lot of the other contestants before me had missed the first question,” Brantley said. “I answered questions about horror movies, a geologic era, Craigslist, a college, things that get better with age, and birds.
“I walked away on a question about which two colors of Olympic ring logo do not interlock with each other. No one I’ve talked to knew the answer to it, so I feel like I made a good call to take the money and run.”
And Brantley has already figured out what she’s doing with her winnings.
“The first 10% will go to my church, the next 40% will go to the IRS, and then at Christmas, I gave my parents a trip to Hawaii for their 40th anniversary," Brantley said. "They were very excited."
Brantley also couldn’t spoil the outcome of her appearance until her episode actually aired almost three months later, but she said it wasn’t hard for her to keep it a secret.
“It was fun to tell people they had to wait to watch the show to find out how I did. I’m pretty good at keeping a secret. My dad especially didn’t want to know how I did, because he was afraid he couldn’t keep a secret.”
When the episode finally did air, the Astros showed it on their big screen inside the ballpark.
“Everyone was really excited for me,” Brantley said. “It was fun to have a viewing party here at Minute Maid Park with my coworkers. I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve gotten texted to me or tagged on Facebook or Instagram where people took a picture of me on their TV.”
It seems Brantley was destined to be on a game show.
“I really enjoy all game shows: Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, The Price is Right," Brantley said. "I grew up watching them with my Granny and Mom. We’ve had some pretty competitive games of Trivial Pursuit at Christmas and other family gatherings."
And it’s not the first time Brantley has auditioned for a game show.
“I tried out for Jeopardy! when I was in college at The University of Texas,” Brantley said. “I passed the written test, but they didn’t select me to be on the show. I’d love to be on pretty much any other game show as often as they’d let me!”