June 21, 2001 11:00 pm
Bill Farner ().
Bill Farner ().

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

JOSEPH A Joseph man won $1 million last week on the Howard Stern Shows Mitts on a Misfit contest, but hes not quite ready for full retirement.

Bill Farner, 46, plans to keep his part-time job at Safeway. He does not expect his winnings to change his life, but he does welcome the extra income to pay some bills.

He will get $33,000 (before taxes) annually for 30 years, Farner said. The first check is expected July 1.

It all started two weeks ago, when Farner received an e-mail saying that hed been selected from some 3 million entrants as an alternate for the contest. Where do you want to fly out of? show producers asked him the next day.

Farner was provided a first-class ticket out of Boise June 10. It was much different, he said, than traveling in the Air Force, where he worked in health care administration before retiring to Joseph in 1993. He is the divorced father of three sons, Rem, 17, Brandon, 15, and Grayson, 10.

It felt weird, he said about seeing his name on a placard, held by a chauffeur in New Yorks LaGuardia airport, then being whisked away in a limo.

Its a zoo there, he said about his first visit to the Big Apple. I wanted to come back.

At the studio, it was like a survivor-type contest, he said. Farner was one of five contestants to see who could hold out the longest touching one of five so-called misfits.

Sterns misfits were: a porno star, a midget porn star, a dwarf, a windbreaker and High-Pitched Ernie, who was quite overweight.

The contest began June 11 with all the contestants standing around a table on which one misfit was reclining. Each contestant had to keep a hand on the misfit, to stay in the game.

Every three hours the misfit would change places with another, while the contestants got a 15-minute break.

None of us realized how long it would last, Farner said. I estimated 38 hours.

Farner was the last one standing 61-1/2 hours later, about 10 at night.

An Internet poll had predicted that Farner would be the first to go.

Stern checked in on the contest about five times a day during his 6 to 11 a.m. syndicated radio show, which is also televised in some 80 markets, Farner said.

When it was down to Farner and a Canadian man in his 50s, Stern thought Farner looked shaky, and would drop out. However, the Canadian nodded off first.

He was real nice to us, Farner said of Stern. He has a reputation for trashing his guests.

There were five cameras on the contestants 24 hours a day. One was trained on the contestants hands.

The contest was taped for Sterns television program. Farner does not know when it will be aired.

Farner watches the show occasionally on the E Channel via a satellite dish.

Farner spends about an hour a day on the Internet, where he found the Web site. Another contest is planned for the site next year.