How Bead Weaving Artist Shae Wilhite Almost Became a Millionaire

Bead artist Shae Wilhite is bringing her bead-weaving expertise to Bead Fest 2018! Her workshops range from teaching cubic right angle weave to creating a double stranded beaded rope necklace. Learn more about Shae and her 2001 appearance on the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire by watching Shae’s experience here and keep reading to find out more about her time on the show!

Getting on TV

Q: How did you happen to get on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

A: After trying to get on the show many times through the phone quiz system, I went to an audition in my hometown of Las Vegas. First was a quiz (100 “fastest finger” type questions), then a mock interview and game. I was so sure I failed the quiz that I almost went home, but my brother convinced me to stay. Thank goodness he did! So I took him along when I went to New York City.

Q: How did you prepare for the show?

A: I’ve always had a brain for trivia. I was on my high school quiz bowl team, and I auditioned for Jeopardy in college. I probably could’ve been a doctor if my brain wasn’t filled with things like “The first episode of Star Trek premiered on September 8, 1966.”

Q: Were you nervous to be on TV?

A: I didn’t think I would be nervous, because I’m kind of a ham. But when you’re sitting there on stage, with the lights and the music and Regis [Philbin], it’s totally nerve wracking.

Winning the Money

Q: Were you tempted to guess at the last question?

A: No way! I knew I would lose $32,000 if I didn’t guess correctly. That’s a lot of money! And I seriously had no clue; I had never heard of the Guerilla Girls.

Q: How did you spend your winnings from the show?

A: First, Uncle Sam took a big chunk of my winnings for taxes. I wanted to buy my mom a car, but she wanted me to have one instead. So I bought my first (and only) brand new car, plus a laptop computer. I also got LASIK surgery, because I had worn glasses since I was four. No glasses, woo hoo! Until I got older, that is. Now I have to wear beading glasses to see those size 15°s!

Once in a Lifetime Experience (Maybe)

Q: What was the best part of the experience? Would you do it again?

A: It was so much fun! I got two trips to New York City, total first-class treatment with limos and a hotel across from Lincoln Center. I got to be pampered with the same makeup artists who did Live with Regis and Kelly, eat in the ABC commissary, meet Regis Philbin, AND win money! I remember a beautiful April evening walking through Central Park with my brother and literally jumping up and down, laughing, giddy with joy: “I won sixty-four thousand dollars!”

Shae and her brother, Will

I would do it again in a heartbeat. However, I’d have to be invited back by the producers, because as a former winner I’m ineligible to audition. But maybe I’ll try for Jeopardy again.

Q: What did you learn from the experience?

A: I was lucky to be on the show when I was. Not only was Regis the ultimate host, but back then they paid for travel, hotel, and expenses. Nearly 30 million people saw my episodes on primetime TV. There were a million reasons why I shouldn’t have been on the show, but fate gave me a chance for the brass ring and I grabbed it. When life hands you an opportunity, don’t be afraid. Go for it — you never know what amazing things could happen!

Another amazing thing that Shae did is design the ultra-popular Moroccan Sunset Bracelet. Find more of her beautiful designs at Bead Fest 2018 including Carrier Bead Crazy, Razzle Dazzle, Rebel Wrap, and The Marilyn Bracelet! Don’t miss out on meeting Shae, sign up for Bead Fest 2018 today!

Lavon Peters
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine

Updated May 30, 2018.

Check out Shae’s other beaded designs in the Interweave Store!


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