Robinson history teacher to appear on “Millionaire”
By Justin Vick
As coach of the Jay M. Robinson High School Quiz Bowl team, history teacher Alex Drake is used to cramming young craniums with useless trivia.
Millions will see how Drake fares in the hot seat on today as a contestant on the syndicated television game show “Who Wants to be A Millionaire.” The show airs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays on WBTV.
Drake’s appearance was taped in November, and he’s waited an agonizing seven months to tell friends how he did. Contestants are sworn by producers not to discuss the outcome of their appearances.
But Drake, 25, said if he did win the grand prize of $1 million, he would go to graduate school, buy a house and donate money to his alma mater, UNC Charlotte.
“He’s normally not the nervous type,” said Drake’s father, Steve, who was in the audience during the taping. “I could tell he was a little nervous at first, but he got more at ease with it.”
Drake admitted to feeling some pressure while sitting in the hot seat, across from guest-host Leeza Gibbons.
“The way the spotlights are, you can’t see anybody around you,” he said. “It was just like me and Leeza, but you know there are 200 people there watching you.”
Drake described Gibbons as very nice and incredibly bubbly.
“We talked about quiz bowl a little bit, and how the kids were excited about me being on the show,” Drake said. “It was such a whirlwind and so surreal that I honestly don’t remember a lot of it.”
Contestants are asked up to 15 multiple choice questions, which increase in difficulty and dollar amounts. Those who answer all questions correctly win $1 million. Answering at least five questions correctly wins $1,000, while at least 10 correct answers yields $25,000.
Drake has taught at Jay M. Robinson High School for four years, the first as a student teacher while studying at UNCC.
He also does play-by-play over the PA system for the high school’s football and basketball games, as well as UNCC baseball and soccer games.
“He’s Mr. Robinson,” said Beverly Mack, newly named principal at Jay M. Robinson High School. “Mr. Drake is probably one of the most dedicated teachers. He’s a team player, and he’s a great role model.”
Mack credits Drake for volunteering so much of his time after school, in addition to teaching advanced-level social studies courses.
Drake’s Quiz Bowl team finished the year with a 65-27 record, the most wins among North Carolina teams.
The squad recently competed in its second consecutive championship tournament, going 4-8 at the PACE National Scholastics Championship in Fairfax, Va.
Several of his students encouraged him to try out for the show when auditions came to Charlotte in July.
Auditions involved a multiple-choice test and an interview. A couple weeks later he got a card saying he was in the contestant pool.
Drake prepared for his appearance by looking over lists from Quiz Bowl books and watching the show every night.
“On a couple of occasions, the kids even drilled me with questions,” he said.
• Contact Justin Vick: 704-789-9138.