Australian Game Shows Wiki
Eddie McGuire
Wwtbam australia hotseat logo
Nine Network: 20 April 2009 – 29 November 2023

Millionaire Hot Seat was a fast-paced spin-off of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, in which six contestants go head to head to try and win $1,000,000 in cash.

The Hot Seat format debuted on the Nine Network in April 2009 as a 5:30pm lead-in to its evening news bulletin.


Designed to be a faster-paced game than the original format of Millionaire, the show involved six contestants each taking turns at trying for the top prize of $1,000,000.

The traditional three lifelines were replaced by a single "pass", in which a contestant could pass the question to the next contestant; the following contestant was then required to answer the question without passing.

Each question also had a time limit, with 15 seconds allocated for the first five questions, 30 for the middle five and 45 for the last five. If a player failed to give out an answer within the time limit, it was considered an automatic "pass". If that particular question couldn't be passed on, that player was eliminated and the highest value available was removed.

The game ended either when all contestants were eliminated or when the question for the highest value in the money tree was answered. If the last question was answered correctly, the player received that amount of money. However, if the player answered the question incorrectly or didn't answer in time, the last player to be eliminated received either nothing (meaning nobody received the prize money for that show) or $1,000 if the fifth-question milestone was reached. Only Questions 5 and 10-15 were worth money; the other values on the money tree were worthless.


During the second half of 2011, audio and visual questions were introduced to the format. Either an audio or a visual question would be asked once per episode, usually towards the beginning of the game.

During 2015, the "Switch" lifeline was added for contestants on the final question. This allowed the contestant to switch to a different question if they were unhappy with it. This feature was soon dropped on 8 May 2015, but was brought back for a week of episodes from 21 to 25 September of the same year.

Later in 2015, the "Ask a Friend" lifeline was added in for contestants. Similar to the traditional "Phone a Friend" lifeline, the contestant was able to ask their designated friend or family member in the audience to help them answer the question. Before the player could use the lifeline, they had to answer three consecutive questions after the $1,000 'safe level'. The feature was added for a week of episodes from 14 to 18 September 2015.

2017 Changes[]

Starting on 23 January 2017, Millionaire changed its format to mix both the traditional format with the Hot Seat format. In this format, the show was lengthened to a full-hour show but was divided into two parts: Fastest Finger First and Hot Seat.

In this version of Fastest Finger First, all six players used a touch screen to lock in their answers. The round was played similar to the original format of FFF, where there was a question presented with four possible answers and the contestants had to lock in the singular answer to the question. (This was different from the second version of Fastest Finger First where the contestants had to put the four possible choices in a designated order.) A minor difference between the original version and this new version was that the players only had 10 seconds to lock in a guess rather than the normal 20. Additionally, some questions could be audio or visual questions with an audio clip or visual still accompanying the question. In this part of the game, there were 15 questions asked to all six players. Whichever player answered the most questions correctly in the fastest total time received a bonus $1,000 check. That check was theirs to keep unless they chose to give it back during the Hot Seat game in exchange for a lifeline. After all fifteen questions were asked, the game moved into the Hot Seat round starting with the player in the first player position (regardless of how they finished in Fastest Finger First).

The new Hot Seat round played exactly like it did before with one exception, the player with the $1,000 bonus from Fastest Finger First could now buy a lifeline when it was their turn in the Hot Seat. If a player was stuck on a question, they could return the $1,000 check to McGuire to pick one of the following lifelines:

  • 50-50 – The computer randomly chose two wrong answers and removed them.
  • Ask A Friend – The contestant's in-studio companion was tasked with talking to the contestant in the Hot Seat and guiding them towards the correct answer. The clock for the question was restarted and the contestant and companion had to talk to each other to reach an answer before it expired. (By rule, the contestant still couldn't turn to look at the companion.)
  • Switch – As in "Switch The Question" where the current question was removed from play and replaced with a new one).

To use a lifeline, the contestant would simply ask for a lifeline to stop the clock and McGuire presented the choices to the contestant. Upon resolution of the lifeline, the question clock would restart.

The Money Tree[]

The amounts go up as follows:

  1. "$100" ($0)
  2. "$200" ($0)
  3. "$300" ($0)
  4. "$500" ($0)
  5. $1,000
  6. "$1,500" ($0)
  7. "$2,500" ($0)
  8. "$4,000" ($0)
  9. "$6,000" ($0)
  10. $10,000
  11. $20,000
  12. $50,000
  13. $100,000
  14. $250,000
  15. $1,000,000

Board Game[]

A Board Game based on Millionaire Hot Seat was made by UGames.


On 29 August 2016, 67-year-old Edwin Daly became the first contestant to correctly answer the $1,000,000 question in Australia's Hot Seat format, thereby becoming the third contestant on any Australian version of the Millionaire franchise to win $1,000,000.

See Also[]

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?



Official website