The man in the hot seat

Chances are if you don’t recognise the name Eddie McGuire you will definitely recognise his face.

McGuire has been an Australian Rules commentator, the CEO of Australian TV’s Nine Network, the president of the Collingwood Football Club, the chairman of the Melbourne Stars Twenty20 cricket franchise, the host of a breakfast radio show and the quiz master of the popular game shows Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Millionaire Hot Seat.

After so long in the public eye, it is little wonder that McGuire is used to be being constantly recognised.

“I’ve been pretty high profile in Melbourne and Australia for close to 30 years,” he says. “I’m on air every day and I write a newspaper column and I’m the President of the biggest sporting club in Australia… (People) tend to know who I am. I’m not necessarily the look-nice and smell-nice host. I have an opinion on things and I get widely reported.”

And the reporting is not always positive. Such was the case when McGuire created a furore after a glib comment that AFL player Adam Goodes, an indigenous Australian from the Sydney Swans, could promote the musical King Kong. McGuire has since apologised and has been ordered to undergo racial counselling.

McGuire’s profile is so big, it almost had disastrous consequences on a trip to New Zealand when he was promoting the original Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

“It was one of the funniest, almost tragic experiences of my life,” the 48-year-old presenter says.

“As I walked out of Auckland Airport, this bus came around that I didn’t see and I nearly stepped out into it. It actually had my head on the side… So I was nearly cleaned out by my own head. Some would say a very fitting way to go. My own big head nearly killed me.”

With Who Wants To Be A Millionaire no longer filming in Australia, McGuire has moved on to the shorter, quicker format of Millionaire Hot Seat.

In the spin-off series, six contestants take turns to answer multi-choice questions as they work their way to the $1 million top prize.

Although no one has taken home the big prize yet, McGuire says the show has already changed lives.

“What I love about it is, it doesn’t have to be a million dollars that goes off,” he says.

“We had one guy who seemed, on the outside, to be a successful businessman and he broke down out the back. He’d won a big chunk of change and we rang his wife… and it meant the difference between losing and keeping his house.

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“As I said the lumps of money can be significant, obviously up to a million dollars.
But, generally, they’re more bite-size prizes. But it’s enough to get rid of all the debt or give you that superannuation.”

McGuire hopes people play along at home and admits that he, too, is trying to answer the questions.

“I don’t know the questions until they come up,” he says, “so I read the question and the [options] and I’m trying to pick the answer myself…

“I’ve got to be careful that I don’t influence people the wrong way… I like to think I know all the answers, but I don’t.”

Contrary to what viewers might think, McGuire tries to help the contestants win the million dollars.

“I want people to win,” he says. “It’s not my money. I want to give it away. The more money going off the better, I reckon.”

With Millionaire Hot Seat airing every weekday, McGuire hopes Kiwis will tune in regularly.

“I’m really rapt that it’s on in New Zealand,” he says. “My uncle is in Auckland so hopefully he’ll be proud of his Aussie nephew.”

Millionaire Hot Seat –