(2003 TV Special)

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"Billion" a Pepsi/WB Promotional Special
truegenius-121 November 2005
In this two-hour summer special, The WB and Pepsi teamed up for an entertainment extravaganza highlighting the upcoming WB fall schedule, and offering the chance for one player to win a billion dollars. One thousand winners - determined by whether they found specially-marked bottle caps on Pepsi products - were flown in to Southern California for a chance to win cash prizes.

The special started with a chimpanzee selecting numbered billiard balls at random to form a six-digit number that, if matched at the end of the show, would guarantee the winner $1 billion. Holly Robinson Peete hosted this segment of the show.

The middle section of the show was a series of WB promos and other games with members of the studio audience, often for cash prizes.

Throughout the show, the names of the 12 finalists were announced. These finalists were selected based on how close they came to predicting the 6-digit number - which they picked before the show was aired - for $1 billion.

The end of the show - the last 30 minutes - was where the real excitement was. The finalists, in a game of chicken, were each given the opportunity to buy out their chance at a billion dollars for dollar amounts ranging from $20,000 (first offer) to $100,000 (last offer). The premise was that those that weren't confident in their prediction could take a sure thing rather than going away with nothing. Each round, everyone had 10 seconds (marked by a huge projection-screen clock) to press a button they were holding if they wanted out. One by one each contestant left or was eliminated from the round until one player remained, and that player won a guaranteed $1 million.

Finally, the 6-digit number was revealed, one digit at a time. If all six digits matched that of the contestant's prediction, the contestant won $1 billion.

Many folks online thought that a billion prize was financial suicide for Pepsi, who (it was said) actually took out an insurance policy with the world-famous Lloyd's of London should a contest be lucky enough to beat the 1-in-1,000,000 odds of winning the big prize. Others felt the use of a chimp to make the selection of the winning number silly. But the whole thing was definitely enough of a success that ABC-TV picked up the show the following summer (2004).
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