On July 4th, 1998, as Americans all over the country were celebrating Independence Day, GSN (back when it was known as Game Show Network) presented the first ever Tic Tac Dough marathon.
It was a six hour marathon that aired from 3PM to 9PM EST.
This marathon spotlighted Tic Tac's all-time winner, Lt. Thom McKee!
Thom's first appearance on Tic Tac aired in the spring of 1980. The first contestant that Thom defeated had defeated another contestant with over $100,000 in winnings.
Little did anybody realize that Thom would break practically every record in game show history at the time!
By the fall of 1980, Thom would go on to earn $312,700!
In addition to thousands of dollars in cash, Thom won lots of trips, lots of prizes enough to fill a house, and eight Buicks!
Many times, Thom's wife Jenny would join him for good luck at the bonus game. And boy, did she bring good luck!
Here are the details of the 12 episodes that aired that day:
1) Thom McKee's first appearance winning his first game.
2) Thom's second appearance.
3) Thom wins his first Buick Century.
4) Thom wins Tic Tac's largest cash jackpot ever - $36,800!
5) Thom wins his second Buick Century!
6) Thom reaches the $100,000 mark!
7) Thom becomes Tic Tac's all time winner (The bell used in the regular game goes wild!)
8) Thom becomes the first contestant to break the $200,000 mark!
9) Thom appears in the 79/80 season finale (Auld Lang Syne is played)
10) The episode that began Tic Tac's third season (80/81) with Thom as returning champion (The late Art James was guest announcer subbing for Jay Stewart)
11) Thom wins his eighth Buick Century and comes $50 short of $300,000.
12) THE HEARTBREAKER! Lt. Thom McKee finally gets defeated and ends his long reign as champion at $312,700.
In this episode, Wink Martindale takes a few moments to commend Thom on his excellent game play while the audience gives him a well deserved standing ovation lasting over a minute.
In all, Lt. Thom appeared on 46 episodes, played 88 games including ties, and earned 43 victories!
Thom became so popular that he was a subject on To Tell the Truth, which returned in 1980 with host Robin Ward.
Thom later appeared in a Tournament of Champions episode in 1983 and got defeated by #3 all-time champ Wilbur Hicks.
On Tic Tac's final episode in May 1986, Jim Caldwell (who took over for Wink Martindale in the final season) did a special tribute to Thom by airing a clip of his final appearance.
By 1986, Thom had retired from the Navy and he and Jenny became parents for the first time with a baby boy!
Finally, in August 1999, after almost 19 years, Lt. Thom McKee's all-time record would finally be shattered by Michael Shutterly on ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire. On that show, Michael won in cold hard cash $500,000 - on one single half-hour show! Three month's later on the same series, John Carpenter would start a new trend, becoming network TV's first millionaire!
Today, Lt. Thom is in real estate, and currently lives outside the Washington-Baltimore area with wife Debbie and their three sons.
― dell, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 19:08 (fourteen years ago) link