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- Danielle Belton -


Gaming The Debt Away

Would you rather trust your financial future with Howie Mandel over Tim Geithner?

If you answer yes, take an odd comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

According to USA Today, a growing number of Americans have decided to take their chances with game shows with the hopes that they can win big to pay off huge debt.


Show up to a casting call and you’ll get a glimpse of America’s melting pot as would be contestants old and young, black and white, college educated and not all vying for a spot on shows like Fox's “Don't Forget the Lyrics!” and “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

For game show hosts the shift in motivation is noticeable.

Meredith Vieira, the “Today” show co-host who also hosts the syndicated version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” told USA Today: “When you asked what they're playing for, it was no longer the dream vacation, beach house or car. They talked about holding on to their homes, the debt they're trying to get themselves out of, the child that would have to leave college. There's still a sense of real need, as opposed to want.”


And as embarrassing as the thought of being outwit by a fifth grader may be, ending up homeless or marred in debt for several years bears a much greater burden.

A part of me thinks people placing all hopes on making it as a contestant on a game show to be a bit nonsensical. On the other hand, if you’re not working and there are no jobs around, it beats sitting around doing nothing. Or spending too much on lotto tickets.

Not to mention should you make it and excel on the show, the pay off is worth whatever jeers you may get from those around you.

Maybe I should get in on the action. Who wants to help me with long division? That was never my strong suit, and I’d hate to have bully an 11-year-old for making me look stupid on TV.


Got desperate enough to try your luck with a game show? Have you sunk even lower? Send your recession tales to therecessiondiaries@gmail.com.

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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