Fr. Bill Matheny donates Who Wants To Be A Millionaire winnings to St. Francis of Assisi School in St. Albans, West Virginia.

A Catholic priest donated the $250,000 prize he won on the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to the Catholic school that he himself studied in. Serving as the parish priest of All Saints Catholic Church in Bridgeport, Father Bill Matheny had been trying to get on the show for 17 years. Last summer he got his shot to be a millionaire. Fr. Matheny made it to the $500,000 question, but was unsure of the answer and chose to instead walk away with $250,000. Later, the show revealed he would have been correct had he guessed. However, Fr. Matheny is far from disappointed. The priest is happy he can still donate a sizable amount to his childhood school, St. Francis of Assisi School in St. Albans, West Virginia.

The principal at St. Francis, Erin Sikora said, “For the children, I think it’s a wonderful example. There’s a good Christian man who excels academically — what is he doing? He’s giving back to others, to children to help with their education,” adding “That’s what Catholic school is all about. It’s a big community and it’s stayed with him for all of these years.”

For Fr. Matheny, getting on the show was an emotional moment. “I couldn’t believe it was happening, I was crying. I never cry!” he said. He has been trying to get into the competition twice each year for the past decade. He also said that he loved being on the show because he wasn’t competing against anyone. As such, he found the environment to be supportive and “nice.”

The priest says that he did not find the questions to be as difficult as they were for others. He credits this to his luck and believes that all the years of trying to get in has finally paid off. When asked if choosing to not answer the half-million dollar question was was worth it, he says it was. Though it would have brought in $250,000 more for the school, it was wiser to not rely on guesswork because he ran the risk of losing everything if he was wrong. He added that if he was playing only for himself and not for the school, he would definitely have taken the risk, but “I couldn't jeopardize $200,000."


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