The hit show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, first started in 1998. Since then it has expanded around the world, with thousands of episodes in over 40 countries. The series has also expanded to include board games, theme parks and has been embroiled in a number of high profile controversies. There have also been some truly incredible moments, such when Joel Carpenter first won the series in 1999.


Given the popularity of the show, we were curious as to why people watched it? Was it the lure of the big win, or the big win itself?

We looked at all the winners of each international show since 1998 and calculated the number of wins per country, per year. This metric was used to examine how ‘generous’ a country is with their wins. A high number reflects many wins, and a low number reflecting very few wins.

You can see in the graph below that Japan awards the highest number of wins (on average, once every 17 episodes), while countries like Vietnam and Nigeria rarely provide a top prize (roughly once every 10 years). From this it appears that Japan is the place to travel to if you want to win Millionaire. Meanwhile in Australia, we only have a winner once every 6 years too (only 3 total wins in 18 years of the show).



Given the success of the show here, with over 1500 episodes, it may not be necessary to award a winner very often and Millionaire can hold onto its cash. An alternative explanation is that contestants in Australia are not all that bright, but lets presume our contestants are no dumber than any others. Lastly, it is interesting to note that while Japan has the highest number of wins, their prize is significantly lower than many others. Japan awards ¥10,000,000 Yen for the top prize, which equates to roughly only $112,000 AUD. This means that, while you are more likely to score a win in Japan, the winnings here will be that much sweeter.


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