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06 April 2004

“Millionaire Challenge” in Deep Hole

It’s time to stop digging deceit.

Property investor, Steve McKnight, is under fire over claims that he can make people into property millionaires.

Last night, on ABC television, David Marr, the host of Media Watch, criticised both McKnight and Channel Seven’s program Today Tonight, over claims about creating millionaires.

In September last year, Today Tonight promoted a “millionaire challenge”, in which McKnight was supposed to “turn average Australians into millionaires in just 12 months”. More than 20,000 people volunteered for the challenge. Three “lucky viewers” were chosen.

According to Media Watch, the chosen three are today no closer to being millionaires than they were six months ago.

So, what has gone wrong?

Well, the passage of time has created the revelation of truth.

Despite a rash of wild claims by property spruikers, it is not possible for “average Australians” to become millionaires in property in 12 months. Anyone who makes such a claim is, at best, deluded – or, at worst, a liar.

Steve McKnight uses that nebulous defence of being “quoted out of context”. He says he did not claim that he could make people into millionaires in a year. And yet, his exact words were, “It doesn’t matter where you live or what your circumstance – I can transform you into a property millionaire.”

After the Media Watch program last night, McKnight wrote, “My definition of a ‘property millionaire’ was someone who controls $1 million in property”. He also stated that four people had “already achieved this goal”.

The two key words that Steve McKnight is using to defend himself are ‘control’ and ‘property’. By controlling property worth a million dollars a person becomes a “property millionaire”.

This is the same twisted logic used by disgraced property spruiker Henry Kaye.

Indeed, at the same time as Steve McKnight’s “property millionaire” challenge was first broadcast on national television, Henry Kaye was claiming that he, too, could turn “ordinary Australians” into property millionaires. But while Kaye faced charges of misleading conduct, McKnight was hailed nationally as “a millionaire maker”.

In a letter to Media Watch, the executive producer of Today Tonight, Craig McPherson, said, “The Millionaire Challenge was Steve McKnight’s idea, not ours.”

And last night, Steve McKnight, made this statement, “There’s more to the story than the people at Media Watch would have you believe.”

Is Media Watch being misleading?

Well, McKnight didn’t elaborate. But perhaps it depends on which dictionary is used – the property spruiker’s dictionary or the dictionary used by those average Australians who are constantly told that if they part with their money for a seminar, some sort of spruiker will make them into some sort of millionaire.

Steve McKnight has dug himself a huge hole with this millionaire challenge. And unless he wants to be compared with the worst of the rogue spruikers, he needs to stop digging, climb out and admit his blunder.

This ‘Millionaire Challenge’, under any definition, is misleading and deceptive.

Stop digging, Steve.


Read the transcript from the Media Watch segment – Millionaire make believe

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