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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UF sweethearts compete on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"

A pair of UF college sweethearts, now engaged, hopes to kick their marriage off with a big wedding celebration and a million bucks.

The couple's opportunity to win $1 million on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" began Thursday night as part of the show's "Wedding Week," which started Monday and ends today.

Christian Higgins, 26, graduated from UF in December 2004 with a degree in classical studies, and his fiance, Kim Mitchell, graduated in December 2005 with a degree in health science education and is now a pre-K teacher.

They have been engaged since February 2007, when Higgins proposed by hiding a ring around a small plastic baby baked inside a traditional King cake during Mardi Gras.

They reached $2,000 during Thursday night's episode without a hitch, but because the show-ending buzzer interrupted their round, their turn continues on today's 5 p.m. episode, which plays on WCJB in Gainesville.

After joining the show's host, Meredith Vieira, mid-round Thursday, the couple successfully answered questions about Monopoly, Elizabeth Taylor perfume and the state home to the city in the famous song, "I've Got a Girl in Kalamazoo," which Higgins said he learned from a video game.

Higgins said he was fired up on the hot seat, and Mitchell agreed, saying he was much more talkative.

"She'd still be reading the questions and I'd be running my mouth," Higgins said.

Higgins and Mitchell are watching a rerun of last night's episode before their final show tonight, which premieres at 7:30 p.m. in Tampa, on a projector screen at Higgins' office building with about 10 to 15 family members and friends.

The couple woke up at 4:30 a.m. to wait in line for six hours during auditions in July, and their efforts proved worthwhile. They were chosen to tape their episode in New York in October.

Since the taping, they've been forcibly tightlipped about their questions, how far they advanced, and most importantly, how much money they earned in their trivial pursuit to become millionaires.

Mitchell said she was "freaking out" on the show because there was no guarantee that their name would be called, and the couple had a new wave of nervousness once they were called to compete.

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"Thinking that you're on TV is nerve-wracking, but seeing the faces of the audience was even worse," she said.

Other than their high energy, Mitchell thinks their philanthropic actions may have helped "Millionaire" officials pick them for the show.

Instead of spending about $500 for wedding favors, the couple is donating to the Katrina Fund, Higgins said.

Mitchell also bought her wedding dress from Making Memories, a group that donates its proceeds to women with breast cancer.

With the game-show winnings, the couple said they would buy a new car, donate to charities and invite about 180 family members and friends to their beach wedding.

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