Monkey boy: Big winner tells Millionaire tales

It's not so hard to come by a millionaire, or a near millionaire, in these parts. Certainly it's no trick to encounter someone who, yes, "wants to be a millionaire." But I give you a new specimen-­ a man who didn't "want to be a millionaire" so much as he wanted to simply raise his hand and say "Me! Pick me, Regis."

And, in a manner of speaking, Regis did.

"I just always saw myself sitting in the hotseat. I knew I could make it happen," says Stanardsville resident J.E. Matzer (the J. is for Jody, the E. he guards jealously as a "Rumpelstilzkin-thing") about his nine-month quest to be a contestant on the super-hit game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

"It basically became a full time job for me. I researched. I was at the library every day, I was on the internet," he says. And this was before the show's producers invited him to New York.

That research and much persistence got Matzer on the show and up to the $250,000 question. And then our hero-contestant wished he had watched that documentary about the Crimean War, or could place a lifeline call to Alfred Lord Tennyson, or both. But instead he walked away from the spot-lit set with a cool $125,000.

Matzer's formidable knowledge of trivia is only the most lucrative of his many talents. Before his "millionaire" infatuation, he was pursuing a career as a writer and illustrator in Montana. Today, he's pursuing a career as a writer and illustrator in Greene County. And he's learned a lot about self-publishing.

"I'm glad I didn't wait for a publisher," says Matzer about his first book, Millionaire Boy: The Adventures of a Game Show Contestant. He began shopping the manuscript around while the show was still at the top of the Nielsen charts– but when there were no takers, he set up his own press, called it Monkey Boy Publishing (he's got a thing for spunky monikers), and won several awards for the final jacket design.

Now that the game show has been shunted into television oblivion, Matzer says his sales on Amazon and B& are covering his print costs. Millionaire, he says, is not over yet.

"I talk to people every day who are Millionaire fanatics. They go to conventions and clubs. There's this underground movement that's hoping the show comes back."

Earlier this summer, Millionaire Boy, aka Monkey Boy, aka Jody "I'll never tell" Matzer was biding his time at the Regal Cinema on the Downtown Mall, dispensing popcorn, soda, and a lot of interesting facts.