Backpacker hits quiz jackpot

Clare Garner
Wednesday 28 April 1999 23:02

MOST BACKPACKERS return home broke. Not so Paddy Spooner, a British traveller who won more than pounds 100,000 yesterday on an Australian television quiz show.

The 32-year-old was so desperate to appear on the Australian version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? that he called the programme 215 times on a friend's mobile phone.

When he finally got his chance, he became the show's biggest winner.

Mr Spooner, from New Milton, Hampshire, answered nine questions correctly, but passed up the opportunity to raise his total to pounds 413,000 - one million Australian dollars.

He could have gambled his money by answering two more questions, doubling his winnings with each correct answer - to A$500,000 - and then tried for the million.

However, as viewers of the British version hosted by Chris Tarrant will know, it was safer for Mr Spooner to quit while he was ahead.

He did not know the answer to the next multiple-choice question - "In which science did the Australian Sir T W Edgworth David specialise?" - and, had he chosen any of the three wrong answers, would have forfeited pounds 90,000 of the pounds 103,000 he had already won.

Peter Ritchie, a spokesman for the Australian Channel 9, said: "He walked away. When he saw the question he decided his luck was out.

"The correct answer was geology but Paddy, even though we let him ring a friend with a textbook for 30 seconds, was not sure of the answer."

Mr Spooner has been sleeping on a friend's floor in the southern city of Melbourne, but when he returns to Britain he will be able to afford his own home.

Right now, he is heading for Thailand for a celebratory holiday with his girlfriend, Trish, before returning to Australia to pick up his winnings.

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