We are excited to celebrate Ike Barinholtz’s appearance and $125,000 win on ABC’s newest iteration of “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” with host Jimmy Kimmel! Ike is a famous comedian, actor, writer, producer, and director as well as a champion for our Los Angeles-based Hollygrove programs. We are honored and grateful that Ike chose to play Millionaire while advocating for our agency and the work that we do for children and families.
Ike first came to Uplift Family Services in 2017 when he donated a VIP private screening experience with himself and Mindy Kaling at the Norma Jean Gala, our annual Los Angeles fundraiser. Later that year, he hosted a “Minions Movie Night” screening of “Despicable Me” on our Hollygrove campus, and he’s been advocating for us ever since. Ike’s animated auctioneering alongside actress Sally Pressman has become a beloved fixture of the Norma Jean Gala for the past few years. In 2018, we honored Ike and his wife, Erica Hanson, with the Ambassador of Children Award.
Ike was the sixth celebrity to jump into the hot seat on this new rendition of Millionaire. Our community cheered him on from home and there was excited chatter in our live Facebook watch party as Ike progressed through the questions. Just 15 trivia questions stood between Ike and his ultimate goal of bringing home $1,000,000 for our agency. Even while under pressure, Ike’s intelligence, spot-on humor, and friendly personality shone through. Before our watch party could take a breath, he was already through the first 11 questions.
Then came question number 12 for $125,000, about how an SOS signal is expressed in Morse Code. Ike’s path to selecting the correct answer was absolutely riveting. Ike was stumped and decided to use his first lifeline to ask his expert, Washington Post reporter David Weigel to weigh in. Dave was pretty sure about option C. Ike’s father, contacted via the “phone a friend” lifeline, was pretty sure about option A. Still unsure of the answer, Ike made the tough choice to burn his last lifeline, the 50/50. When option A was removed, Ike used his intuition to take an informed chance and went with option B, the correct answer.
There were now only three questions between Ike and the million!
Without any lifelines remaining, Ike progressed to the $250,000 level with a tough question about which of the cardinal directions appears in the title of a Best Picture Oscar winner. We saw Ike fight to recall different movies as he went through a mental catalog of different titles like “North by Northwest”, “East of Eden”, and “True West”. A true entertainer, even as he worked hard to figure out the answer, Ike managed to crack jokes and keep up positive and entertaining banter with Jimmy Kimmel. At one point, Jimmy joked that “maybe we should give you the money just for coming up with all these names!” Ike immediately responded emphatically, “That would be great, Jimmy!”
Despite profound effort, Ike wasn’t feeling confident in any of his guesses. He made the tough decision to walk away, saying, “I hate to do this, especially on an Oscar question…my friends are never going to let me hear the end of it, but I think I have to walk! It’s an amazing charity, they could really use that money, and I would hate to let that much go.” As he finalized his decision to walk away with $125,000, Ike was sure he was about to learn that his best guess, “East of Eden”, would be revealed as the correct answer.
But he was wrong! Jimmy revealed the correct answer was “West Side Story”, adding that Ike would be able to sleep well that night knowing he had made the right decision to walk away.
If only the last question had been trivia about the show Millionaire itself, things may have gone differently! Ike impressed with his superfan knowledge earlier on by reciting a few different fun facts about the long running franchise, including the moment when first-ever million-dollar winner, John Carpenter, used his phone-a-friend lifeline not because he needed help, but to tell his father he was about to win the million.
We are so proud of Ike, not only for his winnings or advocating for us on a national stage, but for trying something challenging and new and tackling it with humor, resourcefulness, and grace. Congratulations, Ike!
If you’re feeling inspired, show your appreciation for Ike’s $125,000 win by supporting our work with children and families. Donate $1.25, $12.50, $125, or $1,250 today! Add a note for Ike in the comments section and we’ll be sure to share your message with him. At the heart of every service, program, and resource we help provide is the desire to always do whatever it takes to help the children and families in our communities through their struggles, crises, and hardships.