Educator, Game-Show Winner Declares Bankruptcy

Kathy Cox, the Georgia state schools superintendent who recently won $1 million on the TV game show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?," declared bankruptcy last week, another victim of the housing crisis.

A spokesman for Cox said she will uphold her promise to donate her winnings to two schools for deaf children and a school for the blind, despite declaring personal bankruptcy with more than $3.5 million in liabilities and less than $650,000 in assets -- which is separate from her winnings.

Cox is the co-signer on loans for husband John Cox's home-building business, Pebble Hill Homes, but otherwise has no role in the business, according to the couple's Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition filed Nov. 17 .

A picture of the superintendent on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.
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Cox, who earns around $125,000 a year, said she could not support the couple on her salary alone after a downturn in the home-building industry and as creditors sought the couple's assets.

"On Nov. 17, after consultation with numerous attorneys, my husband and I made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy due to losses incurred by his home-building business," Cox said in a statement.

"The collapse of the home-building market has been well-documented and small builders, like my husband, have been hit especially hard. This was a gut-wrenching decision but, in the end, we felt that we had no choice," she said.

The Coxes filed under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code, which allows debtors to keep and continue paying for some assets, including their homes and cars.

The Coxes' biggest listed asset is a Peachtree City house valued at $450,000. The couple owes more than $33,000 on two car loans for a 2008 Ford F-150 and a 2008 Ford Edge, according to court documents.

In September, Cox took home $1 million on the Fox game show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" by correctly answering "Queen Victoria" on the winning question "Who was the longest reigning British monarch?"

Cox, the program's first million-dollar winner, pledged to donate her prize money to three Georgia schools: the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf in Clarkston, the Georgia School for the Deaf in Cave Spring and the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon.

Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education, said Cox will honor her promise to donate the money and has set up a gift foundation to do so. He said the money would be distributed no later than next month.

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