Jacob Kepler, Disney/ABC Home Entertainment and TV Distribution Father William K. Matheny, Jr., associate pastor of All Saints Parish in Bridgeport, is pictured on the game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” Sept. 28 and 29 in Las Vegas.
By Tim Bishop
Since his childhood, Father William K. Matheny, Jr., associate pastor of All Saints Parish in Bridgeport, has had an inquisitive mind and a knack for memorization. “I’ve always been good with memorizing,” he said. “In the third grade, my grandfather bought a road atlas and we memorized state capitals and roads. It really sparked my desire to learn.” That desire served him well Sept. 28 and 29 when Father Matheny appeared on the hit game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.” The show taped earlier in the summer. “I was so excited to have this opportunity,” he said. “At the same time, I wanted to do well, not for myself, but for my hometown, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and the state of West Virginia.” At the beginning of the show, Father Matheny pledged a large portion of his winnings to his childhood school, St. Francis of Assisi School in St. Albans. And do well he did—Father Matheny breezed through the first several questions, quickly reaching the $50,000 mark. But he didn’t stop there. By the end of the first episode, Father Matheny had reached the $250,000 mark. Father Matheny started the second episode with the $500,000 question involving the name of the algorythym used in the 1960s to develop credit card technology. “I wasn’t really sure of the answer,” he said. “I thought I was right, but I was not 100 percent. If I was playing only for myself, I would have gone for it. In playing for the school, I felt the weight of them loosing that much money had I been wrong.” With that, he decided to forego answering—taking home his $250,000 prize. Father Matheny traveled back to St. Francis of Assisi School to watch himself on the show. Nearly 200 students, teachers, family and friends joined him, cheering each time he answered a question correctly. Father Matheny said he couldn’t think of a better place to be to watch his appearance on the show. “That school,” he said, “provided me with structure, organizational skills, a desire for learning, a desire for reading. I was fortunate to have very bright classmates. We pushed each other to excel and it was all done with a Catholic foundation.” It was his gratitude for the school that prompted him to donate to them a large portion of his winnings. Officials at the school are still determining what to do with the money, but Father Matheny said he knows that it will be put to good use for the benefit of all. More than the money, Father Matheny said he took away from the show an unforgettable experience. “The staff at the show was wonderful,” he said. “The host, Chris Harrison, was genuinely supportive and warm. I think he really wanted me to do well. My fellow contestants were also supportive and nice. Father Matheny also competed on the quiz show “Jeopardy” in 2013. He said his latest appearance on television is most likely his last. “I think I could do well on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ he said, “but with my luck, I would probably spin too many ‘bankrupts’ or ‘loose your turns.’”