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German 'Who wants to be a millionaire?' contestant out on first 50-euro question

For the first time in the history of the German version of the world-famous quiz show, "Who wants to be a millionaire?" a contestant has gone home empty-handed on the first question. Forty-five seconds was all it took.

In front of millions of television viewers on Monday evening, 20-year-old Tanja Fuß from the western German city of Aachen made German television history by incorrectly answering the first question. Subtly spiked with German wordplay, each answer had a slightly different meaning depending on whether or not the words were read as a compound noun which translated as dog names.

'Most giants have Schnauzers?'

For 50 euros, long-time game show presenter Günther Jauch asked: "Traditionally, most '--' have '--? A: Dober, men B: Cocker, Spaniels C. Shepherds, dogs D: Giants, schnauzers."

"I'd have said giant Schnauzers," the fashion student replied, falling into the linguistic trap.

"Is that what you're saying," Jauch asked, to which the contestant enthusiastically answered, "Yes!"

"Definitely?"

"Yes, it's a moustache," Fuß insisted.

"Most giants have Schnauzers? Traditionally?" the presenter double-checked.

"Don't scare me now," Fuß said.

Günther Jauch

German TV presenter Günther Jauch

"No, I can't frighten you," Jauch answered, "Now I can only spread terror."

"Traditionally, most shepherds have dogs," the quiz host revealed to a horrified Fuß.

"Seriously? Oh God!"

"Yes, seriously," replied the host, known for his sarcastic manner across many a German television show.

"Shepherds have had dogs for a long time. But giants don't have Schnauzers. How many giants do you know who have had a Schnauzer?" Jauch asked.

Good spirits

And in 45 seconds Fuß had made German television history.

"Well, that was over quickly," Jauch said after revealing Fuß's wrong answer.

"Quick but nice, and I'm richer for the experience," she replied, taking her error with good humor.

"Unlucky at cards, lucky in love," Fuß said, adding that it was, in fact, her boyfriend who originally registered to appear on the quiz, only to be selected herself after applying "as support."

"It was a great experience and I've the won the hearts of the public and not the million [euros]."

"I already have the main prize with my boyfriend," she added.

Social media frenzy

Fuß's millionaire fail was met with mixed feelings from Germany's social media sphere, with some criticizing the often sharp-tongued quiz host for not guiding Fuß in the right direction.

"I'm completely speechless," wrote Twitter user Marc Schulte, "#Jauch that's just not right ... you could have HELPED!! #wwm I'm appalled."

Others, however, took the chance to comment on Jauch's famously direct interview technique.

Referring to his Sunday evening panel talk show on German broadcaster ARD, another Twitter user, Philip Meinhold, wrote, "Come unstuck at #Jauck's first question? That regularly happens to guests on his Sunday program. #wwm"

Others were less forgiving, however, asking who had allowed the 20-year old to graduate from high school.

The next contestant in the 'Millionaire' seat on Monday night made up for Fuß's shortcomings, however, by walking away with a cool 500,000 euros.

ksb/jil (dpa)