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November 26, 2009

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Thumb tribalist wins upper hand as digital darling

WU Jiaqi, a member of the "thumb tribe" generation, is the digital darling who won the first "Internet Millionaire" online quiz using a standard cell phone with wifi connection.

The 20-year-old got a big thumbs-up and a cash prize of 1 million yuan (US$146,404) recently.

The contest that started in June was hosted by and Nokia. Wu defeated Liang Ying, a veteran IT worker who is about twice her age.

More than 38 million Netizens watched the elimination episodes, according to Deng Wei,'s vice president of marketing. It attracted more than 520,000 Netizens as contestants from all over China.

Tudou hopes to turn the show into a brand series and is seeking a sponsor for next year. The contest broadcast online tests the ability of Net-savvy people to answer tricky questions by using a mobile phone with Internet access. This generation, glued to their mobile phones, is often called the "thumb tribe."

The final questions were not as difficult as the famous query in an elimination round in September:

Q: How many buttons are on the suit Hong Kong pop star Andy Lau wore when he and his wife Carol Choo were spotted holding hands at the Kuala Lumpur airport on August 25?

A: Five buttons.

Wu, youngest of the 20 finalists, was able to select her own questions in the final round, and she chose easy ones that she swiftly answered.

They included:

Q: What's the origin of "Bluetooth?"

A: A person, Harald Bluetooth, the king of Denmark from AD 940-981.

Q: Which side of a half-red-half-green apple tastes sweeter, the red part or the green part?

A: The red side usually tastes sweeter because it gets more sunshine during its growth, fueling sugar production.

Q: What's the probability of a person being struck by lightning in a year?

A: One in 700,000.

The other finalist Liang, the IT professional, answered these rather more challenging queries:

Q: In the popular TV series "Friends," which characters do not kiss each other?

A: Chandler and Ross.

Q: What's the price of a bowl of noodles at the newly opened restaurant in the Forbidden City, Beijing?

A: 30 yuan.

Wu entered the contest by chance. When she was Net surfing, she saw a notice and a link and clicked on it.

"The questions are very leiren," says Wu. Leiren literally means "thunder people," meaning something startling or shocking and also funny.

"The contest requires fast-thinking, logic and superb handling of a cell phone's Internet-surfing function."

Wu, who now studies at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, calls herself a real member of the 1980s generation. She received a very traditional education and has a strong sense of responsibility.

"My affinity with the Internet began when I was a middle school student," Wu says. "I used to love online chatting but I soon started to use the Net for quick news updates and useful information."

The Internet can be addictive but Wu's father Wu Houyong ensured that she used it wisely. He saw the quiz as a demonstration of the positive power of the Internet.

Wu spends her spare time reading history and biographies. She is a member of her university's theater workshop and will play an old woman in a production at Zhejiang University.

She says "Internet Millionaire" was rewarding and she learned a lot from her competitors, many of them with extensive experience and successful careers. They have become friends and keep in touch.

She says she plans to give part of her prize money to the other 19 finalists. She didn't say how much but said her parents approve.

"As the youngest of them, I am grateful for their help and support," she says.

Wu has entrusted most of the money to her parents and has rewarded herself with a small sum for shopping. She is considering some financial products, though 1 million yuan doesn't go very far.

It's quite a small pot of gold and not likely to go to her head.

"She should adjust herself quickly to the quick money and continue to go forward with more efforts," says Wu's father.

"We don't expect this first pot of gold to be her last."

"Internet Millionaire" has been recognized for its novelty, marketing and good inter-activity with Netizens. It recently won Best Loyalty Program at the 2009 Digital Media Awards.

"The program's success demonstrates the strong viability and good prospects of the genre of Internet reality shows," says Deng of Tudou marketing.

"We hope to present more original customer-oriented programs for China's large number of mobile and Internet users." will soon launch its annual film making competition "Tudou Video Festival" for Netizens. It aims to support small-budget films and identify talented first-time directors who will be honored next April.

The winners will be assisted in getting their films screened and distributed nationwide. They may also become contract directors for China Film Group Corp.

For details, check


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