Fifteen minutes of fame has changed the life of Surf Beach’s Dawn Simpson, who won $250,000 on TV quiz show, Millionaire Hot Seat, in an episode which aired on Tuesday night.
The Bay Post/Moruya Examiner’s resident Gossip Gal columnist said she was inspired to enter the show on the suggestion of her husband Bob, whom she recently placed into care at Maranatha Lodge, Batehaven.
“Bob has advanced Alzheimer’s disease and he’s only 66, but when we used to watch Hot Seattogether, Bob used to say, ‘you should go on that show’, so I said ‘well, I will’,” Dawn said.
Dawn applied 12 months ago and “completely forgot about it” until called to an audition in Sydney months later.
Her unique, outgoing and lovable personality came to the fore and she was chosen from almost 500 people who auditioned that day.
Already a trivia buff, Dawn studied for weeks before filming on Monday, July 13, reading up on everything from movies and hip-hop music to weights and measures, history and the equator.
“I did not get one question I had studied,” Dawn said.
"I can tell you so much boring stuff now, if there’s a trivia night, I’m going to be a queen.
“I can tell you the capital of Brazil, everyone thinks it’s Buenos Aires, but it’s Brasilia.”
Speaking to the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner on Monday, Dawn would not give too much away about the questions she was asked.
However her most dreaded question was on maths.
“I was really good at maths until I got this horrible maths teacher in third year and then I lost the plot,” Dawn said.
“So I got a square-root question. The clock is ticking – I’ve got no paper and I’m trying to work it out in my head, I’m going back through them all again, trying to do the multiplication, I think ‘it’s gotta be that one’, and Eddie is going ‘ten seconds, five seconds, Dawn lock something in!’, so I sing out ‘lock in B!!!!’ really loud.
“We went to a break and came back and I’m sitting there calm again and Eddie screams out at me ‘lock in B!!!!!’.”
Dawn answered the question correctly, and has a stern message for shire school students; she even phoned Moruya High School, of which she was school captain for two years.
“If I hadn’t paid attention at school, I wouldn’t have got that right and I would have missed out on $250,000,” she said.
Dawn put her win largely down to luck.
“I would recommend anyone have a go, because a lot of it is luck,” she said.
“I’ve never seen this happen on Hot Seat, but by the time I got to the last question everyone in the audience was singing out ‘Dawn, Dawn, Dawn, Dawn, and I’m sitting in the chair, being the fool that I usually am, going ‘me, me, me, me’.
“We had to run to get on the plane ... by the time I’d kissed everybody in the studio ... the doorman, the security man, I think I even kissed somebody’s dog, I was so excited.”
Dawn said the show labelled her a “battler” who won “the biggest prize of the year” and while she denies the battler label, Dawn said the money had changed her life.
“I wish they hadn’t called me battler, because it’s not really true,” she said.
“People are going to say ‘she’s not a battler, she’s got that little red car, she zooms around in town, she’s got that nice house at Surf Beach.
“I have been worried about finances with Bob, but there’s a lot of people a lot worse off.”
Dawn said she approached the show as an adventure.
“I thought, I’m just going to treat this as a bit of a holiday and something nice for me after what I’ve gone through in the last 12 months - if I win anything that will be a bonus,” she said.
“Oh my god, it’s just changed my life.
“It costs me $3500 a month for Bob to be at Maranatha, and I was eating into my mother’s inheritance.
“I wouldn’t have had anything left in my kitty to do anything in my old age.
“I’m no longer a battler!”
Dawn bonded with the other contestants so well - “we’re all Facebook mates” - she plans to give each $1000 to “go out for dinner”.
She'll put the rest in a high-interest bank account for six months.
“I’ve decided Mrs Farrington-Smythe (Gossip Gal socialite) and I are not going to become neighbours in Sydney’s North Shore,” Dawn said.
“When the dust settles, I will probably get an old ute, and (Gossip Gal) Rossi (Allen) and I are going to head off to the Alice Springs Town Camp, or maybe with (my sister) June, and load it up with lots of nice stuff to see the women and children.
“I’m going to give money to Alzheimer’s Australia, hopefully so they can get a cure before my (son) Tom gets old enough to get Alzheimer’s.”
Dawn watched the episode with about 25 of her neighbours and friends in her unit, on her “tiny TV”.
She notified Maranatha about the episode airing and hoped Bob would connect in some way with the show.
“By the end of (filming) it, I was a mess, because I knew Bob would be watching,” she said.
“At one stage, I turned to my camera and waved madly and said ‘hello, everyone at Maranatha, I love you Bob’.
“He’ll probably think I’m in the room.
“Hopefully, he will take some of it in.”
Gossip Gal Dawn Simpson will spend Wednesday, July 29 fluttering between various media appearances.
After her victory on Millionaire Hot Seat, which aired on Tuesday, July 28, on Channel Nine, Dawn was asked to appear on Mornings on Wednesday.
Dawn planned to leave her Surf Beach home at 5.30am to drive to Sydney, just in time for hair and makeup, before her appearance.
She was also scheduled to be interviewed on her way to Sydney with Triple M’s Luke Darcy, Mick Malloy and Millionaire Hot Seat host Eddie McGuire.
“This is becoming bigger than Ben Hur,” Dawn said.
“I was just so excited when they called me about The Morning Show, I screamed for the whole conversation.”
On suggestions she might be offered a job as a media personality, Dawn said she hoped to be recruited for Big Brother.
“I would make a really good housemate,” she said.
“I could run through that house naked.”
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