Billion dollar boy falls short


by Kristen Erickson

What would you do with $1 billion?

Senior Troy Arkema might be able to pass on some tips: he’s been thinking about that a lot lately.

Arkema was one of 1000 finalists chosen for the “Pepsi Play for a Billion” billion-dollar giveaway broadcast Sept. 14 on the WB. Finalists were selected by entering codes found under Pepsi bottle caps onto a specific contest website.

“I don’t even drink soda,” Arkema said, who collected codes from bottle caps found at his job at Best Buy.

One of those bottle caps turned out to be lucky.

Arkema said that when he was first contacted and told that he was a finalist, we wrote it off as some type of Publishers Clearing House spoof.

“My mom made me stay in it,” Arkema said.

In this case, mother really did know best.

After getting his identification verified and documents notarized, Arkema finally received his plane ticket and trip information about two weeks before the big event.

Each finalist, including Arkema, was flown down to Orlando and put up in the World Center Marriott Hotel for a two-night stay.

On the second night of the stay, the finalists were brought together for the televised giveaway. Participants were each assigned a six-digit number when they arrived.

Contest officials then rolled six dice to establish the six winning digits.

To decide the order of the digits, the officials wrote each number on a pool ball. A monkey then drew each ball from a bag. The order with which the balls were drawn from the bag determined the ultimate $1 billion number.

The 10 finalists with lottery numbers closest to the winning number were then invited onstage for an elimination round. Officials offered contestants the opportunity to take $20,000 and walk away or risk the chance of being eliminated. With each round, the amount was increased by $10,000.

When only two contestants remained, the finalists were given the opportunity to take $100,000 and leave or gamble that they had the number closest to the chosen number and win $1 million. The $1 billion grand prize was only offered if the contestant matched all six digits.

Arkema did not make it onstage, but he did have one out of the six numbers correct.

While it would be nice to have won $1 billion, Arkema still isn’t complaining.

“I got a free trip to Florida out of the deal,” Arkena said.

Not too bad for a guy who doesn’t even drink Pepsi.