If you live in Milwaukee and/or you read Milwaukee Record with any regularity, chances are you’ve encountered the name Ryan Fox before. The local filmmaker is the mind behind The Life And Times Of Thomas Thumb Jr. (a short where the titular character has a giant thumb for a head), the Adult Swim-featured R.P.M. 2 that found him duct taping a camera to his car’s wheel and driving around Milwaukee’s East Side, and “the world’s longest and worst Mannequin Challenge.”
Beyond his work in the realm of film, Fox made national sports news when he attended a Bucks game in “Milwaukee Milhouse” attire. Additionally, he once showed up unannounced at one of our “Taped Music” review installments at Summerfest and he appeared in a Milwaukee-centric episode of Joe Pera Talks With You last year. On Sunday, March 21, the Cream City character will add something else to his interesting and varied list of accomplishments when he appears as a contestant on an episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? on ABC.
Fox, who relocated to Los Angeles in 2019, got the opportunity to become a contestant on the popular game show in a rather unorthodox way. After being laid off from his job last March due to the COVID-19 crisis, Fox decided to try his hand as a driver for a food delivery app.
“I always want to turn a negative into a positive, so at least this way I’d make some money while being able to explore Los Angeles more than I ever would otherwise and enjoy good tunes and podcasts,” Fox tells Milwaukee Record. “The turn of events was absurd to me and immediately I was hooked, cause I love driving and little adventures. It basically felt like real life Grand Theft Auto or Crazy Taxi.”
When Los Angeles was placed under curfew in subsequent weeks, Fox—deemed an essential worker—was delivering food on a daily basis. During that time, he says he stumbled on a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? ad seeking essential workers to be on the show.
“After weeks of texts, phone calls, and Zoom interviews, I was told I was booked for the show,” Fox says. “Holy shit.”
While he can’t talk about how he fared on the show, of course, Fox says the experience was surreal.
“I’ve been obsessed with game shows since I was a child, so needless to say, I was really excited,” Fox says. “I remember renting the Millionaire PC game many times and playing it at home, in fact. Shout out to Sunset Video in Waukesha.”
Fox says he didn’t practice before the episode because “you can’t really anticipate random trivia questions,” and he claims he was calm because he felt “just fortunate to have been invited” to potentially win some money.
“Yes, the show has millions of viewers and it’s being filmed, but I couldn’t care less about that,” Fox says. “Strip it all down and I’m just a dude sitting in a chair playing a game with the dude from The Man Show.”
He says having backup help from his girlfriend, Milwaukee cinematographer Dana Shihadah, was also a nice bonus to the experience. You can see Fox attempt to win up to one million dollars during the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? season finale, which airs on ABC on Sunday, March 21 at 7 p.m. CST.