Ian Ridenhour’s TV appearance is $1 million shot in arm

Fred McCormick

In front of a live studio audience and several TV cameras, 15-year-old Ian Ridenhour contemplated the rules of Twitter.

“It was like, ‘if you’re limited to 2,400 tweets per day by the rules of Twitter, how many seconds per tweet is that,’” Ridenhour said last week, recalling the question on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’s Whiz Kids Week.” “It ended up being one tweet every 36 seconds.”

Answering the question correctly netted Ridenhour $50,000. He could have walked away with $100,000 if he had been able to pick out, among 50 choices, the one word Dr. Seuss did not use when he wrote “Green Eggs and Ham.”

“It seems like such a simple question, but I missed it. I guessed ‘tree’ and it was ‘cat,’” he said. “The worst part is that my family was sitting behind me, and they knew the answer. But you’re not supposed to give anything away, so they had to sit there and smile.”

The episode in which Ridenhour appeared was filmed in August, so he could tell his friends only that he would be appearing on the show - and not that he won big.

“It was incredibly hard because I had a ton of people asking me how I did,” he said. “It was tough. I ended up telling everyone I was legally obligated to not share details about the outcome. But these were my friends, so of course I wanted to tell them.”

The appearance on the game show was a “great experience” for Ridenhour, who was referred by a friend who was on the show last year. Ridenhour filled out a five-page questionnaire, and that was followed by a video chat with staff from the show in which he answered a series of questions.

“It wasn’t as intimidating as I was expecting,” he said. “At the show I was pretty nervous though because once you get on stage under the lights your mind can go blank.”

But Ridenhour was able to tap into his extensive experience as a performing artist to overcome the pressure.

Last year Ridenhour released his studio album “Quietly Making Noise,” which featured appearances from David LaMotte and B.J. Leiderman.

“I got to get both of them on the album,” he said. “It was very cool. They’re just incredible to work with. David LaMotte is a visionary and one of the people I look up to. And B.J. is a really great guy.”

Ridenhour’s second studio album is currently in the pre-production stage. He plans on spending his winnings from the game show on completing that project.

“I’ve been a musician my entire life. I started playing drums since I was 3,” he said. “It’s a passion of mine, it’s what I want to do with my life. It’s what I love.”

Ridenhour is scheduled to perform at White Horse Black Mountain at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.