ABC has resurrected Secret Millionaire, the reality show (formerly on Fox) based on a British series, about wealthy people who assume secret identities and donate thousands of dollars to charities. The first philanthropist to be featured on ABC's version is Anne Beiler, the founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels.
On Sunday's episode, Beiler heads to Baltimore and works with three organizations in the poorest parts of the city over the course of a week.
"This was probably one of the highlights of my whole life," Beiler tells TVGuide.com. "Many of these folks really don't have anything to begin with, and yet they were in these organizations, giving of themselves and of their time, with nothing in return. It was just very impressive, the passion that they had for their community and for their cause."
Though Beiler eventually revealed her true identity to the charities she was working with, she said that one of the more enjoyable aspects was pretending to be someone else for a week. "I went in just acting like I had just moved in [to the neighborhood]," Beiler recalls. "And they'd ask me questions about my family and my husband and my children. Sometimes I almost slipped into the mode of telling them who I really was, but I was able to keep it a secret all week. That part really was fun."
Less fun, according to Beiler, was deciding how to distribute her money among the three organizations she worked with. "It was really tough ... because all of them are very deserving. I really did struggle about that," she says. "The one that I chose to give the most to I think was the one that would have had the hardest time getting funding. ... I chose them because I felt like they needed it the most, I guess. It was very difficult."
Watch Beiler get adjusted to her new surroundings in the clip below. Secret Millionaire premieres Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.
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