MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 24, 2008

Mayor wins $25K

‘Copied’ answer ends appearance on game show

There may still be a question as to whether Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons is smarter than a fifth grader, but he’s definitely got more money in his pocket than most.

The 20-year-old taped a segment for the show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” in August that aired Friday night. He had revealed that he had won some money, but was bound by contract not to reveal the amount until the segment was over.

He won $25,000, missing a chance at $50,000 because he did not know who the first American woman to travel into space was. Hammons thought maybe his mother, who answered Sally Ride, was correct, but Hammons already had elected to “copy” off his fifth-grade competitor and had to take the youngster’s answer. The fifth-grader was incorrect, and Hammons’ winnings were limited to the $25,000.

Hammons said he was extremely nervous watching the show with friends, family and supporters at Mahylon’s restaurant, even though he knew the outcome.

His grandmother, Darlene Pannell, said she told Hammons before they show aired that she knew what her late husband’s advice would be on what to do with the money he won: “Spend a little of it, save the rest.”

That’s close to what Hammons will do with the money, according to an announcement after the show: He has paid the taxes, tithed $2,500 to his church, will buy a Nintendo Wii and save the rest to help put himself through law school.

“Maybe I’ll be your DA (district attorney), one day,” he said.

The mayor appeared on the national television show wearing a T-shirt and shorts, but not just any T-shirt. One the front, it said “Mahylon’s, Muskogee, Okla.” and on the back it read “Okie From Muskogee.”

Mayhlon’s owner Kenny Greer couldn’t have been prouder. It was a lot of free advertising, he said.

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