“5th Grader” Winnings May Go To Creditors, Not Schools
A former contestant on “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader”, who has since filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, says that she went on the show to play for Georgia schools, not for her own personal gain.
State schools superintendent Kathy Cox proved that she was smarter than a fifth grader in August 2008 when she answered all 11 questions correctly, winning the show’s $1 million top prize. While on the show, Cox said that she planned to use her winnings to establish scholarships at three Georgia schools for blind and deaf children. However, a bankruptcy judge will now decide whether the money goes to the schools or to Cox’s creditors.
In October 2008, two months after appearing on the show, Cox and her husband filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, citing $650,000 in assets and $3.5 million in debt liabilities. Last year, Chapter 7 trustee Gary Brown filed suit seeking to reserve the $1 million winnings for the couple’s creditors, claiming that Cox was on the game show for personal gain and not acting as the school superintendent. According to the claim, Cox executed a document that transferred her winnings to a charitable gift fund for the schools.
A recently proposed court settlement would split the winnings in half, with $500,000 going to Cox’s creditors, and the remaining $500,000 to be split between the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon, the Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring, and the Atlanta Area School for the deaf in Clarkston. A bankruptcy judge must approve the settlement, which will likely happen at a hearing this month. The money has been in the registry of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court since February.
Cox is upset that the prize money may be taken away from the students who need it. “I’m happy that the schools will get $500,000, but all of it should have gone to the schools,” she said. “If anybody had watched the show, it was so clear I was there as the state school superintendent. That money had nothing to do with what was happening to us personally.”
Resource: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Proposed settlement calls for schools, creditors to split Kathy Cox’s $1 million prize”, Bill Rankin, 29 September 2010