Sorting your maniples from your centuries: Czech game show's million dollar mix-up

14-02-2005

The Czech version of the television game show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' created its first millionaire last week. Ironically, this was not during the programme itself, but thanks to a compensation claim paid out to a former contestant. The Czech television channel 'Nova' was ordered to pay Karel Lupomesky nearly $120,000. I'm joined by Rosie Johnston with the rest of the story...

'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' So, first of all, what was this court case all about?

Over four years ago, Karel Lupomesky was a competitor on the game show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire', or 'Chcete byt milionarem?' as it is known over here. He was asked the question: 'what is the name given to a unit of the Roman army, comprising of between 120 and 150 men?' He answered a 'century' but according to the television station 'Nova', this was in fact the wrong answer; they claimed that a 'maniple' was the right answer. Mr Lupomesky lost out on over 1.25 million crowns - approximately $60,000 and left the show with around $15,000 instead.

But Mr. Lupomesky wasn't, in fact, wrong?

Well, no, but nor was Nova - a quick consultation with an encyclopedia will show you that while a maniple is 'a subdivision of an ancient roman army, containing 60 or 120 men', the definition of a 'century' is somewhat more vague. A century is simply a 'unit of the roman army originally consisting of 100 men'. Lupomesky was not wrong in giving this answer. Experts in Roman history testified during the court case that both 'maniple' and 'century' were satisfactory answers to this question, and thus 'Nova' was in the wrong for setting a question with two right answers.

Okay, so what did the court decide?

The courts decided on Friday that Mr. Lupomesky had been wrongly eliminated from the game show, and ruled that 'Nova' should pay him 3 million crowns, which works out as about $150,000, in compensation. This is more than the question was actually worth on the game show, but takes into account the questions that Mr. Lupom"ský could have gone on to answer, if he had stayed in the competition.

And what is Karel Lupomesky planning on doing now?

Well he's being very cautious. He says he'll only believe that he's a millionaire when the money is safely in his account, and until then, he plans on doing nothing. One of the first things he hopes to spend his money on is a holiday, though he has categorically ruled out a break in Rome.

14-02-2005