USD Professor Competes on Game Show for $1 Million

Communications professor to compete in third TV game show

By Lauren Steussy
|  Monday, Jan 30, 2012  |  Updated 11:26 AM PDT
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USD Professor Competes on Game Show for $1M

University of San Diego

Eric Pierson and an associate professor of communications at the University of San Diego, will compete the NBC game show "Who's Still Standing" Monday night at 8 p.m.

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Winning cash and swag on national TV isn't new to Eric Pierson -- but falling through the floor after answering a trivia question might be an adjustment.

Pierson, 51 and an associate professor of communications at the University of San Diego, will compete the NBC game show "Who's Still Standing" Monday night at 8 p.m. The show gives contestants an ultimatum -- answer the question wrong, and the ground beneath them will open up and swallow them whole. If they aren't eliminated, they will receive a cash prize of up to $1 million.

Pierson's coworkers and students will gather on campus to watch their professor Monday night. Before the show airs, a few administrators will play clips from his previous stints on TV game shows, such as a 1985 episode of "Catch Phrase," where he won $1,500. He also won $35,000 on "High Rollers" in 1987.

His wealth of experience with game shows taught him a lesson that in turn, he hopes his students will take away: Don't take yourself too seriously.

"It fits into my philosophy of why I talk to my students about the ritual of participating in game shows," Pierson said. "You should never take yourself too seriously."

He said he's seen this first hand working in academia.

"Academics take themselves way too seriously," he said.

Students too, could learn from the game show.

"Students today are much more stressed thinking about their future."

After the show airs tonight, Pierson said he plans on talking to his students about the production of the show and what he witnessed from behind the scenes.

Some of his lessons focus on reality TV, and he says game shows are just one form of reality television. While he used to show clips of his past game shows, his appearance and experience with Who's Still Standing will spice his lessons up, he said. 

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