How do you give away 1mm Dollars?

There is nothing more fun than handing someone a check for 1mm dollars and watching that person fall over on the floor and not be able to stand up. Have them try to get up, gain their composure, and then fall right back down again…

On the flipside, I haven’t had many jobs tougher than eliminating people who are closer than they will ever be to that much money. They obviously weren’t happy about it I wasn’t either. It was far harder to do than I ever imagined.

The show is, and was designed to be, far more Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory than any reality show on air to date. I guess I thought I would be Gene Wilder and stand by and watch the golden ticket holders eliminate themselves one by one. As it turns out, the one thing I couldn’t do was stand by and watch. I kept notes during the shooting and thought it would be fun to consolidate and share some of them here.

Before I selected the final 16, Ispent a lot of time with the producers going through the thousands and thousand of applications. Each had to pass all kinds of psychological and legal screening. (don’t want to put an axe murderer in the house). Each went through multiple levels of interviews. By the time I had picked the final 16, I thought I had a good feel as to who each person was, and what I could expect from them in the house…

Its one thing to think you know someone from watching tapes, or 30 minute interviews, its completely different when they walked through the door of the house and I realized that the game was on, and within about a month, one of their lives was going to change forever. 15 would head back to work after the game. One would have the choice of not having to work…

The 16 contestants quickly went from taped talking heads telling an interviewer what was important to them, and how my game could change their future, to my responsibility. My responsibility to make sure I gave the money to the right person. But first I had to decide how to pick the right person.

In the real world, no one really keeps score. When you apply for a job, there isn’t a scoreboard in that interview room and you look to see where you stand. It’s up to you to convince the interviewer to move you forward or not.Even after you got or lost the job, you never really know how close it was with the competition.

None of usever know when our next challenge or opportunity is coming or how it will present itself. There isn’t a schedule that tells us wereally should pursue that idea we have, or that now is that time to step out of our comfort zone and go for our dreams. As much as we would like to believe its true, we never really get the chance to select our future from a menu. We cant just choose “Millionaire artist, living on a beautifulranch by the age of 25”. We can only dream it, then compete with ourselves and others to try to make it happen.

The game I designed works the same way. The 16 contestants never know exactly when they are being tested or how. The challenges I throw at them are open ended to make sure that rather than all doing the same thing, they all have to think on their feet and shine on their own.

It’s not easy for them. It’s not easy for me.

The first day, everyone feels like they have what it takes to walk away with the million dollars. Then the tests and challenges come. They start to realize that the game is always on. They have to be on. They have to compete. They have to recognize who their competitors are and how they are going to stand out. For some, it’s also the recognition that its not going to be easy, and may not even be possible to shine purely on merit. But with the odds of winning 1mm dollars improving by the day, it doesn’t take long for some contestantsto set aside shining and push forward with what I politely called “gamesmanship”.

Fortunately, I have cameras on all of them all the time, and can hear all the conversations. The first cut wasn’t too hard, the 2nd was. It was too soon to kick someone else out, but there were elements of the game that incorporated luck. Good luck for someone always means bad luck for someone else.

Next blog entry I will start to talk about some of the challenges.

40 thoughts on “How do you give away 1mm Dollars?

  1. Hi,i’m in really bad debt need help from anybody is sincere to donate money and i accept any amount,please reply via email

    Comment by mas -

  2. Im not looking to get rich from donations, I just want my daughter to come back home. Any donations big or small will help. In all, I will need about $36,500.00 and everything will work out great.
    My credit is shot, but I will pay back as quickly as I can!!!!!

    Comment by Martin Tometsko -

  3. Single Father Needs Assistance
    Last Hope


    Hello and thank you to everyone who takes the time to read this.
    My name is Marty. I am a 36 year old male who just recently had his 14 year old daughter taken away from him by Children and Youth Services after years of struggeling with paying rent and bills.
    I have had my daughter since she was 8 months old. Her mother chose to relie on drugs and alchohol as an everyday part of life and I just couldnt let my daughter be around that type of envirorment.
    Its really hard being a single father of a girl, but even harder following a motorcycle accident back in 1991 that left me with a bad back and pins in my left knee. I have filed for Social Security several times and have been turned down.
    My utilities have been turned off, no food, no income, lost my daughter. It was the most gut wrenching feeling to see my daughter being taken away and not being able to do anything about it. I was arrested for disorderly conduct because of the anger that I felt at the time that she was taken away from me. At the time, I was so hurt, but I now understand that my daughter has the support that she needs in foster care.
    Im not the type of person who will ask for money so I have gone without for so long. Now, I have to do something to get my daughter back home where she belongs.
    If there is anyone at all that can help me with extra change to accomplish my goals, PLEASE HELP!!!!
    I will send a personal thank you and keep everyone who helps me informed of the situation!
    Thanks so much in advance!
    Martin Tometsko
    471 Fifth ave
    New Kensington, Pa., 15068

    Comment by Martin Tometsko -

  4. Need help,i need $500,000.00(US Dollar)from any millionaires and any rich people out there,please i have to pay my debts and i want to give my parents a better life.Have mercy and God bless you.

    Comment by ayu -

  5. Has the show aired yet?

    Comment by funny shirt guy -

  6. Won’t really give away such large sum of money this easily.

    Comment by Kane -

  7. Many enraged impotent psychiatrists
    are a light bulb? into the cialis use.

    Comment by cialis -

  8. Not much on my mind lately. My mind is like an empty room. I’ve basically been doing nothing.

    Comment by international phone card -

  9. You guys are great! This is the best blog I have ever read!!
    If only a million dollars was easier to achieve, huh? Seems that if it was, we ALL would be a lot happier. Think what a million dollars could do for a homeless shelter or a local community in need of “cleaning up”. I hope to some day make a million dollars to pay for a house, give my children a great home life and then help out my parents for all they’ve done for me. Don’t get me wrong, if there’s some left over, I’d love to buy a new car!
    Keep it up Mark!!

    Comment by Jen -

  10. Just a line or two to the folks who dont have a million dollars. I am now working on my third million. The first million i had to give up on because i was in the U.S. Marine Corps and the interest rates were so low that my $200.00 a month income would not ever gain the interest needed to aquire the first million.
    The second million was going well till i married a lady that spent more than i made so there went the second million.
    But being the trooper that i am, i am not giving up. So now i am working on my third million. I just might make it. But what the heck. If i do, i do. If i dont, i dont. (Its the tryin that keeps us from dyin.) This being an original quote by myself.
    So keep on tryin folks, ya just might make it.

    Comment by Larry -

  11. Buy cialis and achieve satisfaction in your life.

    Comment by buy Cialis -

  12. Mr. Cuban, I can think of one thing you can do with a million dollars other than make people jump through hoops passing tests.

    And it will benefit thousands of people.

    Set up a benevolent fund for disabled persons for needs like wheelchair vans, adapted vehicles, special needs equipment, sending disabled children to specialized summer camps and other such thing.

    There are few resources out here for people like myself and my family.
    There are few benevolent programs out there and even fewer that assist with the above mentioned needs.

    In Canada there are even fewer resources out there than there are in the USA.
    Some provinces have less help for the disabled than others too.

    Please consider setting up a benevolent fund for giving away a million dollars. People need help for the long term instead of TV shows.

    The great lesson of life…
    It is what you learn after you think you know it all that really counts…

    Thank you for your time and consideration.


    A bit about me.
    I am an adult with muscular dystrophy & my child also has the same disorder.
    My story is on my webpage.

    I am also an activist.
    Sometimes one has to ask for help or use a 2×4 to get attention to a matter that needs to be fixed.

    Comment by Kat Lanferman -

  13. Maybe we on the down side can help each other. We could start a Trust that everyone can help support with just one dollar a month, then we can all participate in using it. But being on TV and acting a fool so someone might give us money is like being a prostitute for rich people. Maybe if the grants from the Government were really for individuals and not non profits and corporations, people could get on their feet and be a little beter off. Maybe the person supposedly giving away the money could do something more worthwhile for a few more people without the humiliation involved.

    Comment by Susan Sheldon -

  14. putting 16 people in a house and playing head games with them so they can win money seems like a way for a rich guy to toy with human beings. We do that with monkeys and PETA complains.

    Comment by Curious George -

  15. Aloha ….wow after reading about all this it seems to be money is what most people are after…i dont blame know if wasnt for us poor people watching,spending money on movies,buying what the millionaires have invented and so on,i think they wouldnt have make it without us…now we need the help and no ones around to help us…so please if you feel like you have to give it away ..? call me my kids could use a better education and a Great life then what we have now by living paycheck to paycheck….oh well…God Bless…

    Comment by J.R T. -

  16. The more interesting question is, did any axe murderers apply?

    Comment by Mitch Denny -

  17. MC:

    Missed you at the Dallas auditions, so I figured I might as well gear up for season 2. Feel free to check out my audition video at…

    “Game On!”

    Comment by Ap -

  18. Mark,

    Listen it would make sense to do a second show……you already screened us……let the finalist who didnt make it on the 1st show have a shot at the second show! Hell, call us the rejects if you want to! One of us will have a Million Bucks! We wont care

    Comment by Jeffrey Saunders -

  19. I have been trying to get info on this show for months now. Please let me know if there will be a second show for all of us who did not make it for the first show.

    Brenda Lee Brown

    Comment by Brenda Lee Brown -

  20. Would realy like to see this show

    Comment by Violeta Belosevic -

  21. I could use only $50,000 to get mine and my wife’s life back on track. We got into trouble when we were younger nad it is catching up to us in debt.

    Please help,,, I can work for it. Please.

    Comment by Joe -

  22. Mark

    I dont know why you passed on me…..but think about this……because I have. I wanted it, I could taste it and NOBODY would have worked harder for it.

    Is there a Benefactor 2?

    Jeffrey Saunders
    The Gay Redneck from Georgia

    Comment by Jeffrey Saunders -

  23. Sure, you’re giving away a million bucks. But you’re making much more than a million bucks from the show. So who’s the sucker? The viewer or the cable company??? If you gave me a million dollars, I’m willing to spend the next five years working for you.

    Comment by Jay -

  24. To the reader who left the comment that $1 mil will not last a lifetime. Are you smoking crack? Why not? If invested and spent wisely you can turn this money over and over and over. If you continue to live a normal life and not spend it all in one place you will be set. Give me a million and I will be the happiest person in the history of ever. Babyarm.

    Comment by Luis -

  25. Mark,
    In the discussion concerning the difficulty of selecting a single contestant, I had a thought. I’m not sure of your complete net worth, but I suspect that you could afford to award two million dollar prizes. This would be an interesting and unexpected twist to the ending.
    Enjoying your blog,

    Comment by ShantiFriend -

  26. I’m sure this show will blow up like everything M.cuban’s dealt. changed the whole distribution of quality television programming. Benefactor will be to The Apprentice what House Party 3 was to House Party 2.

    But while you’ve been paying attention to the world of reality TV, you may have overlooked the NBA draft landscape. A word of advice, bounce Dirk off the Mavs before his knees give. He’s worth a couple 1st round draft picks or a starter and a late lotto. It’s the time to move. You’ve shown the league you’re capable of paying for top flight talent. Why not show them your ability to scope prep skillz. The Mavs could win the West if they were quicker and more athletic. Dirk would be a great Benefactor 2 cast member but not as a franchise star. Picture Dwight Howard and Shaun Livingston ravishing opponents.

    Do it, do it.
    You won’t regret it.

    Comment by dave -

  27. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY! “What! You mean this prize is only 1 million??How can I live on that!!Haven’t you watched Regis lately?? If you’re going to hand me a check for doing nothing it’s got to be for more than that. I have a self worth you know. I had to put up living in that mansion for 30 days.”

    Comment by Gus Treewater -

  28. YES!! i am so excited about the benefactor. i will be overseas in july but i will definitely be taping the show.

    i hope you picked the right person!!! i’m very into these sort of reality shows and theres always one or two ppl that really stand out from the rest.

    GOOD LUCK. i hoep it goes well.

    Comment by cali -

  29. Hey Mark: As one of the houseguests,
    I’ve been wanting to get a hold of you and tell you the big news; I’M A DAD! He was born on 5/12 and we were able to bring him home this past Thursday. The birth mother asked that we keep the name Abraham, so we call him Babraham or Baby Aby. I want to get some photos to you before the reunion show, so I will try to contact you through the production company. I hope the houseguests read the blog (I know my showtune singing partner does), but I just want to thank you and share my joy with everyone. If there are 15 minutes of fame to be had from being on the show, I will spend them thanking you and the producers and telling everyone of the joys of adoption. God Bless You All!



    Comment by Charlie Bucket (Benefactor Cast Member) -

  30. 1,000,000 is just a number to some, but for the inteligent businessman, 1,000,000 is merely a seed.
    I’m 19, and if you gave me $1 million, I’d make it $100,000,000 within 10 years, guaranteed.
    For the first years I’d live as though I were impoverished, investing everything.
    I’d begin with some leveraged yet profitable real estate investments (as a licensed broker I know the Boston market well enough to know where to invest for great profit despite the inflated prices), then within a few years pyramid these initial investments into larger properties, regional and super malls, casinos, you name it. All the while, I’d branch out into every facet of profitable business avaliable.

    By the time I’m your age I’d own a sports team myself, Celtics all the way!
    After owning the Celtics I’d help them become the instoppable force they once were. 🙂

    Oh well, leaving dreamland and getting back to work, and earning that million the hard way :/

    Comment by Visvesh Shah -

  31. I agree that a millon dollars is a lot of money. If I won that amount, I would not quit working, I would invest the money with a respectable mutal fund, and within a few years, would have many options from the returns I have gained on the money.

    Comment by Gary -

  32. I love these douche bags that try and tell us that a million bucks isn’t a lot of dough. It must be the same douche bags that have 100 million!! A million bucks is a lot of money. Only a fool would quit working after such a financial windfall. A million dollars just gives one options they normally wouldn’t have. I have to believe that anyone who passed Mr. Cuban’s screening process and then went on to be awarded a million by Mr. Cuban will probably have the sense to make wise use of the money.

    Comment by whacky burger -

  33. Had a dream the other day..Was contacted by Mark Cuban.. For posting on his blog site, everyone who did in the past received a cool million dollars!..I yelled out YAHOO!..Then I awoke!…Har!..Oh well, back to reality.. The River Kid… P.S. (Just think if something really does happen because we have been respondin’ to Mark)…

    Comment by ShadNet -

  34. one milli-metre dollars? that’s not much to give away. The hard bit would be trying not to displace it.

    Comment by secretGeek -

  35. a lifetime without working. Because I’d use it to follow dreams – biz ideas – that wouldn’t seem like work at all because of the excitement of finally getting to do something for me instead of someone else!

    Comment by Jeff -

  36. I think that will be the big difference between this reality show and the others: you are a real person, not a host) who is, by definition “real”, but not really), and you are dealing with other real people.
    When that happens, feelings develop. It is human nature. People will endear themselves to you, and you to them.

    Perhaps you will give new meaning to the quote, “”Choice has always been a privilege of those who could afford to pay for it.”

    You will pay for it before you spend the 1mm.

    Good Luck.

    Comment by Joshua Page -

  37. Okay…You pointed out that the person would have a chance not work if if they choose too? No likely….A million will not last the average person their life time. Sure, with all your abudant information, you know how to invest safely and easily make 11% percent on your money annually like the banks.

    But, the average person does not know this? Did you give the person who won any investement tips? If not, they will surely spend their way through it. Or, at best they might get 3% annually on their money which means that they will have to work.

    Let’s not forget taxes.

    But, I do enjoy the fact that you did something for someone that you did not have to do in the first place. And, you have made someone’s life a happier life.

    Comment by Sterling -

  38. Mark,
    I am sure you made the right choice for who you had to select from,(you actually did screw up because I was not on your show) but you never really know for sure. All you could do was go by your gut feeling.

    I know that I will be watching and commenting on how much better I would have been then anyone else on the show.It’s always easier to condem when your at home watching. Ha ha

    Did you know early on that the one you picked would be one of the last ones standing, or did they come out of nowhere?

    I am dissapointed that I have to wait until Sept to see the show.

    When will you know if there will be a Benefactor 2?

    Thanks for the update, as you know some of us are following your show very close.


    Comment by Pam -

  39. But being on TV and acting a fool so someone might give us money is like being a prostitute for rich people. Maybe if the grants from the Government were really for individuals and not non profits and corporations, people could get on their feet and be a little beter off.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  40. There are few resources out here for people like myself and my family.
    There are few benevolent programs out there and even fewer that assist with the above mentioned needs.

    Comment by runescape money -

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