Photos by Chris Haston/NBC | 2020 NBC Universal Media, LLC.
Owensboro now has a winning link to “The Weakest Link,” a trivia-style show that runs on NBC. Mark Gaddis, originally from Owensboro but living in Los Angeles, won $59,000 on the game show on Oct. 19, 2020.
The show, based on a British version, has eight contestants each episode who are strangers, but must work together to bank the maximum amount of money each round, building chains with their answers that raise the total prize money. This all happens while host Jane Lynch verbally punches the contestants as one, considered the “Weakest Link,” is voted off each round.
After applying online and having a Skype interview for the show, which he said went really well, Gaddis was cast to tape in early September 2020 in Hollywood, California.
“I love game shows, always have,” said Gaddis, who also made a 2018 appearance on the Game Show Network’s “America Says.” That show pits two teams of family and friends against one another to guess America’s responses to survey questions from around the country.
As for auditioning for “The Weakest Link,” Gaddis quipped, “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get insulted by Jane Lynch on national television.”
Gaddis said that being on the show was fun, and that the set itself is just as fun.
“The stage, as you can see in the episode, is very cool, and it is every bit as amazing in person,” he said. “The whole experience was nerve-wracking, but in the best way.”
Gaddis said that all safety protocols were in place, and that he felt very comfortable taping the show during the pandemic.
When the taping was over, and Gaddis knew he had won, he still was unable to discuss it due to a contract that each contestant signs prior to the taping, regardless of winning or losing.
“Some people knew I had taped it, but I wouldn’t talk about it at all so as not to give it away,” he said. “I wasn’t allowed to publicize it at all until it was going to air, and even then I could only help promote the episode, but couldn’t say how I did until it aired.”
And people in Owensboro, where Gaddis graduated from Apollo High School and his family still lives, were unaware he had even been a contestant due to not traveling home to visit during the pandemic.
“I barely mentioned that I had done it, so they never thought to ask me about it when we talked,” he said.
As for friends in Los Angeles, he said that since he hasn’t seen them as much since the pandemic, he was able to steer the conversation away from the show until it aired.
And while he said that not much has changed for him since winning, due to the ongoing pandemic and inability to celebrate, which he plans to do with friends after the Los Angeles lockdown ends, he has realized that social media is a tool that allows strangers to find him.
“I was shocked how many people reached out to me after my appearance. Who knew?” he said.