Alumnus gives part of 'Millionaire' prize
Kevin Olmstead's 2001 win on the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"
has proven lucky for U-M's School of Natural Resources and the Environment
The U-M alumnus recently gave the school a $50,000 endowment,
which he says he wants to "directly support students." It will fund
the Kevin Olmstead Graduate Student Research Assistantship in Sustainable
Systems for graduate student work on any project in the Center for
Sustainable Systems (CSS).
"Preference will be given to enrolled SNRE students who are in
academic good standing pursuing a graduate degree, possess strong
quantitative skills and demonstrate exceptional interest and experience
in environmental sustainability," says Greg Keolian, co-director
of CSS and an associate research scientist with SNRE.
Olmstead and CSS say it is likely the fellowship will be used to
update a report called the "Overview of Environmental Sustainability
Issues," which is used as a teaching resource. The graduate students
will make sure data are up-to-date and will revamp a chapter or
two in the materials each year to ensure the report will be usable
in the future.
With Ph.D. and post-doctoral degrees in environmental engineering
from U-M, Olmstead was able to answer an engineering trivia question
on "Millionaire" about who is credited with inventing the first
mass-produced helicopter. Knowing that it was Igor Sikorsky won
Olmstead the $1 million jackpot. He also secured his place in game
show history by winning an additional $1,180,000 that had been amassed
over 118 episodes of unsuccessful "Millionaire" contestants.
After a whirlwind press tour during which he met Kelly Ripa and
Diane Sawyer when he appeared on their shows, Olmstead returned
to his job at Tetra Tech MPS in Ann Arbor. With no plans to leave
or shorten his hours, he continues the same schedule, with the addition
of a few speaking engagements.
A quiz show buff since appearing on "High School Quiz," which aired
on a Toledo, Ohio, television station in the late 1970s, he has
served as a coach and advisor for the Michigan Academic Competitions
and its forerunner group within the University Activities Center
at U-M since 1989. He is a founding member and chief financial officer
of National Academic Quiz Tournaments, which produces quiz bowl
and trivia questions for high schools, colleges and other clients.
His other game show appearances include a stint on "Jeopardy!" in
1994, during which he won $27,000 in cash and prizes.
The 2001 win was not Olmstead's first encounter with "Who Wants
to be A Millionaire." He also coached past contestant David Goodman,
the last "Millionaire" winner before Olmstead.