November 24, 2009: Los Angeles, Calif.— Matthew Carrier, Belmont ’06, recently had the experience of a lifetime as a contestant on the Country Music Television (CMT) reality show “Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?” After being recruited while grocery shopping in Los Angeles, Carrier auditioned for the show that tests contestants’ elementary-school knowledge.
When he arrived on set, Carrier filled out paperwork that covered everything from basic information to his favorite subject in school to embarrassing stories. During the audition, he was quizzed in subjects like geography, mathematics and science—all at various elementary-school levels, just like on the show.
The show’s grand prize is worth $250,000, if a contestant decides to multiply their winnings in the first round ($25,000) by 10.
“They advised me to talk out all my answers, because no one wants to watch someone think; they want to hear them,” Carrier said. “I got all but two questions right, but I had no idea they were actually going to pick me as a contestant.”
Carrier got the call-back and appeared on the 8 p.m. ET show on Nov. 20.
“The experience was absolutely amazing,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to be on a couple other TV shows since moving to L.A., but nothing compared to this experience.”
Carrier said the set of the show was fast-paced and hectic because there were no cuts to start over.
“Everything seemed to go so fast,” he said. “I figured during commercial breaks I’d have some time to relax but they only gave us 30 seconds before starting again.”
If needed during the show’s taping, contenders can get help from one of the show’s five elementary students, who generally know all the answers to the various questions.
“Those are some smart 5th graders!” Carrier said.
With his former band cheering him on, Carrier started with the hardest questions first and worked his way to the easier questions. Although he missed a couple 5th- and 4th-grade questions, his last question for $8,000 was a 1st-grade spelling question that he “thankfully got right.”
Carrier said one of his favorite parts of the show was talking to Host Jeff Foxworthy after the taping.
“He is a great guy,” Carrier said. “He spent the first full year of his comedic journey touring the United States making only $8,000, and now he gives a lot of his money away to charities and is a big family man. I gained a lot of respect for him after the show.”
Although Carrier jokes that his earnings after taxes won’t amount to much more than a “little spending cash,” he said the experience was worth it.