UPDATE: Campbell librarian wins $110K on “500 Questions”

May 21, 2015 | Leave a Comment

UPDATE: Campbell librarian wins $110K on “500 Questions”

Tuesday evening update (May 26): Campbell University librarian Steve Bahnaman's run on the ABC game show "500 Questions" came to an end on Tuesday night's episode when he got three questions wrong in a row.

But before he reached that point, he got a lot of questions right -- a lot of questions. He won $110,000 and reached question No. 168 -- the best of any contestant so far. What a great run, Steve, and congratulations!


Monday evening update (May 25): Campbell University librarian Steve Bahnaman told us he did pretty well on ABC's "500 Questions," but he didn't tell us he did THIS well. On Monday night's episode, he built on his record-setting stint on the game show to reach question No. 149 and extend his winnings to $74,000 with $34,000 still in play.

The episode also ended with him having two strikes, though. That means that when he's back on the air Tuesday night, if he gets the next question wrong, he's booted from the game. If he gets it right, he continues and will take home at least $108,000. 


Friday evening update (May 22): Campbell University librarian Steve Bahnaman became the first contestant on ABC's game show "500 Questions" to reach at least 100 questions in Friday's night episode. He ended the night at question No. 106 and with $69,000 won -- the best showing of any contestant on the show so far. His run continues on Monday night when the show returns. Way to go, Steve!


Friday morning update (May 22): Campbell librarian Steve Bahnaman did well on "500 Questions" last night. He made it through the first set of 50 questions and won $42,000. He has the chance to win even more in tonight's episode as he tries to become the first contestant to get through 100 questions. The episode will air from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on ABC. 

After you watch Steve's run on "500 Questions," keep your channel set to ABC for "Shark Tank," airing 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. On tonight's episode, you'll find Campbell alumna Ellie Brown '96 making a pitch to the sharks. She is the co-founder of evREwares, which makes and sells wearable fabric stickers.  


BUIES CREEK -- When ABC airs its new TV game show “500 Questions” tonight, Thursday, May 21, beginning at 8 p.m., keep an eye out for Steve Bahnaman, the reference and electronic resources librarian with Campbell University’s Wiggins Memorial Library. He will be a contestant on tonight’s episode.

Hosted by CNN’s Richard Quest, the seven-night game show event premiered Wednesday, May 20, and will air through Thursday, May 28. Depending on Bahnaman’s results tonight, he may be on Friday, too.

“I’m a hardcore trivia guy, and I know so many people who have been on game shows,” Bahnaman said. “It’s not that I want to be on TV and be famous. I wanted to do it to prove myself in a place where everyone can see it.”

In a press release, ABC billed “500 Questions” as a “genius game show” and “the ultimate test, where intellect, strategy and stamina are all equally essential in order to win.” Contestants aim to answer as many questions correctly as they can through multiple rounds of 50 questions. If they miss three questions in a row, they’re out of the game.

“It’s an endurance game,” said Bahnaman, who was recruited for the game through a website for trivia buffs. “You try to go as long as you can.”

The show was created by Mike Darnell, the president of Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television, and Mark Burnett, creator of “Survivor” and “Shark Tank.”

As far as how Bahnaman fared on “500 Questions,” he can’t disclose that yet. Just watch. In the meantime, read this edited Q&A with him below and watch him near the beginning of the show’s promo.


Steve Bahnaman: He's "nuts for knowledge"

How did you hear about “500 Questions” and get on it?

They recruited through websites where people play trivia online, not some of the better known sites and apps but more the underground apps for hardcore nuts like me.

How did you prepare to compete on the show?

It’s a TV game show, and they can ask about anything they want, from physics to TV shows. So, you’re just trying to predict. I did do some flash cards and some studying. Otherwise, I’m in the permanent state of readiness. It’s kind of like if you asked someone on our basketball team to go out and play on TV. It’s like, “OK.”

How did you know what to expect since it’s a new show?

The good news is they gave us a lot of practice. They let us play the game a couple of times during audition call backs, and you also got to see other people play the game. Everybody was really clear on how it worked.

How did you get interested in trivia?

I was always drawn to books that had a lot of facts in them, like National Geographic Books. In college [at Emory University], I was on the Quiz Bowl team, and that’s when I started doing what’s called quizzing. Trivia to most people means going to the bar and answering questions with your friends. Quizzing is more taking written tests, doing crazy trivia games, competing against people from England, and going to conventions. It’s the equivalent of being a crossword nerd; but instead of being a nut for words, you’re nuts for knowledge. The good news is that it helps my work as a librarian.

How so?

I get all kinds of questions about all different kind of things. It turns out that knowing a little bit about a lot of things helps me do my job.

Why did you become a librarian?

I have a Master of Theological Studies as well. The plan initially was to get a Ph.D. in religion, but to do that requires you caring a lot about a specific theologian or a single thing and study that for five years as hard as you can. That ended up not being something I wanted to do. I realized that what I really liked was research, being around research and helping people with research. I worked in the library as an undergrad and through grad school, and saw that was a good fit for me.

His other game show appearance

“500 Questions” is not the first time Steve Bahnaman has appeared on a game show. He was part of a segment on “Ask Me Another” this past January when the NPR quiz show broadcasted in Durham.

The topic was college sports teams; and yes, Bahnaman mentions that Campbell is home to the Fighting Camels and explains why the university’s mascot is named “Gaylord.”

Listen to the segment here:


How “500 Questions” Works

From ABC Entertainment:

“500 Questions” requires the contestant to successfully navigate through multiple rounds of 50 questions spanning a wide range of categories (science, politics, literature, pop culture, etc.). As the contestant plays the game, they continue to build their overall bank as questions are answered correctly. Contestants can make multiple educated guesses within the allotted time, however, they will only get to keep the money when they successfully finish each round of 50 questions. Three wrong answers in a row and the contestant is eliminated.

Further raising the stakes will be a challenger, watching the contestant’s every move, with the ability and opportunity to knock out the reigning genius contestant at various moments during each round of questions.

No saves, no helps, no multiple choice, “500 Questions” will keep you on the edge of your seat to see how far these geniuses will be able to go.

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