Andrew makes TV history with life-changing $1 million win
ANDREW Skarbek's thirst for knowledge has made him a millionaire.
The Melbourne business analyst made Australian television history tonight, winning the biggest cash prize ever awarded.
Mr Skarbek won $1,016,000 on Channel 7's quiz show Million Dollar Minute.
But he earned every penny, persevering through 23 episodes and 589 questions to finally reach the seven-figure sum.
"When I was a kid people use to nickname me 'the professor' because I always had my head in a book," he told APN.
"I play trivia in a pub weekly but you can't gauge from that how good you are."
The 47-year-old said he needed luck on his side to win the grand prize.
"I always backed myself to win, but I won't lie there are elements of luck involved," he said.
"You're stuck in until you crack it; leaving's not an option and frustration does kick in.
"The structure of the game is like repeating a year of school.
"It took me five cracks at $500,000 and almost a solid three weeks on the show to get through the $500,000 and $750,000 (questions)."
The game show has two rounds, a buzzer round where three contestants compete against each other to answer questions followed by a series of five questions for the top scorer.
Mr Skarbak defeated 46 contestants but said he felt like he was competing with himself rather than anyone else.
"It became a quest, like a holy grail," he said.
"It would have been so easy to walk away with $500,000 or $750,000, but us men are very task-oriented.
"You have to keep having a crack; it was like trying to crack a code. No safe cracker ever opened a safe on their first go."
Six months before he went on Million Dollar Minute, Mr Skarbek began treatment for MALT Lymphoma.
He was given a clear bill of health from his doctor the day he got the call-up from the show's producers.
"Getting through that I learned to be patient," he said.
"If you keep doing what you have to do then you'll be all right. It put me in good stead for the show. The game is more than actually answering questions and beating competitors. It's the mental side of it and just staying focused and patient."
He will use his winnings to pay off a $50,000 medical debt and buy his first house with wife Jenny.
"It's certainly going to change our lives, but it's not going to change us," he said.
"When we were young and could have bought our own home we were just overly cautious. We never found the perfect place and then overnight housing prices doubled in Melbourne.
"The way I look at it - it's the house that trivia built."
He is also going to fly his Polish-born mum back to visit her home country.
"She's 78 now and an absolute live-wire. She's still active enough to go but the 24 hours of flying was a concern," he said.
"The fact that I can make that happen for her by flying her business class is a wonderful thing to do. My win makes the impossible possible."
Million Dollar Minute airs Mondays to Fridays at 5.30pm on Channel 7.