When you watch Jeopardy! or The Price is Right or Who Wants to be a Millionaire, you don’t always think about what goes into the making of those shows. You don’t think about the music choices or how the winning contestants actually collect their prizes after the show ends.
Keep reading to learn about all the ins and outs of the game show business. A lot happens behind the scenes, and we’re here to let you in on all the juicy secrets.
The Cash Cab Taxi Once Struck And Killed A Pedestrian
Before everyone freaks out too much, you should know that this was the Canadian Cash Cab, and Canadian host Adam Growe wasn’t driving the cab at the time. They also weren’t filming a show at the time.
Sometimes I do think they should pay more attention to the road, though. Driving a cab and running a game show at the same time seems like an accident waiting to happen, especially in a big city.
The Price Is Right Used To Give Out Way Better Prizes
In the early 1960s, The Price Is Right gave away some pretty amazing prizes like an airplane, a submarine, a swimming pool, and a house in Florida. The format of the game was also a bit different. The contestants bid like they were at an auction and there was no Plinko.
I think I like the version of the show with Plinko better. I would like to win an airplane, though.
The British Male Voice On Siri Is The Voiceover Guy From The Weakest Link
That iconic British voice belongs to the one and only Jon Briggs, a voiceover artist whose portfolio includes voicework on programs such as The Weakest Link, Radio 2 and Channel 4.
Jon leant his voice to a company that specializes in computer generated voices. Apple picked his voice out of a catalog and Jon didn’t even know that they selected him. I hope he eventually got paid for his services.
The Old Spice Guy Is Linked To The Weakest Link
Isaiah Mustafa (the Old Spice guy) won the money to pursue his acting career while he was a contestant on The Weakest Link thanks to his knowledge of comic books.
His knew Doctor Doom’s first name, so he used that information to help him answer a question about Doctor Frankenstein’s first name. That question won him $47,000. Sometimes it pays to be a giant nerd. Mustafa has said that he’d like to play Luke Cage at some point in his career.
The Wheel Is Really Heavy
The wheel on The Wheel of Fortune weighs a whopping 2,400 pounds. It must take some serious muscle power to spin that thing. I wonder if the wheel itself is worth more than the money most people win by appearing on the show.
I think it probably has some sentimental value at this point in its history. The show has been taped in many places over the years, but there has always been one and only one wheel.
Steve Harvey Can Be A Nice Guy (Sometimes)
Steve Harvey once gave a winning Family Feud contestant an additional $25k of his own money after later finding out the contestant was terminally ill. The man was doing everything he could to support his family, and Steve Harvey stepped in to help him out.
Harvey may have questionable morals, and his politics aren’t always squeaky clean, but at least he takes it upon himself to lend a helping hand.
Drinking On The Job
Pat Sajak and Vanna White were often drunk while hosting the early seasons of The Wheel of Fortune. During an interview with ESPN2, Pat Sajak said,
“Yes. When I first started and was much younger and could tolerate those things. We had a different show then. Vanna and I would … have two or three or six and then come and do the last shows and have trouble recognizing the alphabet. I had a great time. I have no idea if the shows were any good, but no one said anything, so I guess I did okay.”
A Contestant Won Jeopardy On Heavy Drugs
Writer and filmmaker Oliver Stone admitted to being on ecstasy during a 1997 celebrity episode of Jeopardy! He won the game (and $15,000 for charity), and he thinks that the drug made him faster on the buzzer.
I guess things were a bit different back in 1997. Stone says his time on Jeopardy! was one of the highlights of the ’90s for him. It does sound like he had a really good time. Maybe too good of a time.
The Only Man To Make It To A Million
George Smoot, an astrophysicist who won the Nobel Prize, was the only man to win the million dollars on Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?
This game show was definitely harder than its name suggested. Most of us would like to think that we at least have a fifth-grade knowledge base, but it turns out that we forget so much of what we learned in grade school. When was the last time any of us did long division?
The Story Behind The Final Jeopardy Song
The famous Jeopardy! “Think!” theme was composed by the show’s creator, Merv Griffin, in less than a minute as a lullaby for his son. By 2005, he had made over $70 million dollars in royalties from that song, which is the equivalent of a Jeopardy! contestant winning every game for about a decade.
Sometimes it pays to be musical. Other times you end up doodling on a keyboard in your parents’ basement.
The Busiest Man In The World
Mark Burnett, the producer of Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, has produced over 2900 hours of television programming, which regularly airs in more than 70 countries. He’s been involved in a whole bunch of shows, including Survivor, Shark Tank, The Voice, and The Apprentice.
Basically, we have Mark Burnett to thank for almost every game show we’ve ever seen. Who knew that one man could be so prolific?
The Real Life Inspiration Behind Stampy
The episode of The Simpsons called “Bart Gets an Elephant” is based on an episode of The Price is Right. An elephant was offered as a “bonus prize” as a joke. The real prize was $4,000 but the contestant wanted the elephant.
The contestant got his wish and a live elephant from Kenya was delivered to him. Elephants are pretty hard to take care of. I think I’d rather have the money.
Fishing For Cash
The Price Is Right rigs the Plinko game when they shoot commercials. They use fishing line so that the chip lands in the $10,000 slot every time. The wire was mistakenly left in place during an actual show and a contestant dropped three consecutive chips before anyone noticed the mistake. She was allowed to keep the money.
Sometimes other people’s mess-ups work in your favor. One person’s mistake is another person’s best day ever.
Jeff Probst Has Multiple Talents
In 2001, Survivor host Jeff Probst directed and wrote a screenplay for a movie called Finder’s Fee. It’s about a man who finds a wallet with a winning lottery ticket in it on the street.
The movie stars Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Lillard, and James Earl Jones. The movie got a 60% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it won Best Screenplay at the 2001 Method Fest Independent Film Festival.
The CBS Television Lot Is Full Of Shiny New Cars
Pretty much every contestant on The Price Is Right hopes to win a car. There are quite a few cars featured on every episode of the show. With five shows a week, that’s a lot of cars.
You never see the same car twice, and they always happen to be the latest, shiniest models. That’s because the show keeps 37 to 45 vehicles on the studio lot at any given time, and the inventory rotates every week.
A Woman Blew Her Cover On The Show
In 2009, a US postal worker on disability was busted when she went on The Price is Right TV game show and was seen miraculously spinning the ‘Big Wheel.’ I don’t know if you’ve seen the Big Wheel, but it’s pretty big. It takes a fair amount of strength to make that thing move.
The woman lied on her disability paperwork and said that body pains prevented her from standing, sitting, kneeling, squatting, climbing, bending, reaching, or grasping.
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Way before Steve Harvey hosted the family game show about our collective hive mind, Ray Combs was the host of Family Feud. On his final episode, one player ended the game with zero points.
Combs said, “I’ve done this show for six years .. this is the first time I had a person that actually got no points and I think it’s a damn fine way to go out. Thought I was a loser until you walked up here, and made me feel like a man.”
The Reality Show That Wasn’t
In 2008, Jeff Probst, the host of Survivor, was developing a reality TV series called Live For The Moment. The idea was that it would feature people with terminal illnesses being taken on “the last adventure of their life” before they die.
It was basically the Make a Wish Foundation, just televised. As far as I know, they never filmed a single episode. I guess the concept was too morbid for the American public.
Bob Barker Was A Hardcore Animal Activist
Way before Blackfish was ever a thing, Bob Barker complained to producers about them giving away tickets to Sea World as prizes. Barker also asked the show to stop giving away fur coats, wool, and leather jackets.
He’s donated millions of dollars to animals rights causes over his lifetime. Even though Barker has retired, The Price is Right still has a ban on real fur prizes. Fake fur is okay though.
Well, That’s Awkward
Once a woman in a wheelchair won a treadmill on The Price is Right. Host Drew Carey asked LA-based comedian Danielle Perez to “come on down.” She spun some wheels and guessed some prices and then she won some big prizes. Carey presented her with a sauna and a treadmill as prizes for winning a round of “1 Right Price.”
While Perez was genuinely grateful for her gifts, she originally thought the entire bit was a prank.
Piercings Or No Piercings
At the tribal immunity challenge for the final four players on Survivor: Africa, host Jeff Probst asked which female player in their season had no piercings. One contestant gave a correct answer and got the point. She went on to win the challenge, and eventually, she made it to the final two.
What the producers didn’t know was that another contestant on the season also had no piercings and when a contestant gave her name as his answer, he didn’t get any points. That contestant, who finished in fourth place, was later paid a settlement by CBS.
There Are People Who Are Professional Wipeout Testers
There is a group of people called the Black and Blue Crew who test the Wipeout obstacles before they can be approved for the show. I guess there needs to be some way to make sure all of those giant balls and spinning platforms are safe, but I don’t think that I’d be up for a job that dangerous.
I think I’ll leave all the falling as wiping out to the Black and Blue crew.
Who Wants To Be A Cheater?
In 2001, a man named Charles Ingram won a million dollars on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. At first, it just looked like this guy really knew his trivia, but upon closer examination of the show’s tapes, investigators discovered that Charles had cheated.
He had a friend in the audience look up the answers to all of the questions, and then cough when the host mentioned the right answer.
We Lost A Lifeline
On the original version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, contestants had three lifelines at their disposal: 50/50, ask the audience, and phone a friend. When the show first premiered in the late ’90s, it wasn’t as common for people to have access to the internet, and people definitely didn’t have the internet in their pocket at all times.
As access to the internet became more widespread, the show chose to remove the phone a friend lifeline.
The First Person To Win Didn’t Use Any Lifelines
Even though Who Wants to be a Millionaire allows the use of lifelines, contestants on the show don’t have to use any lifelines if they don’t need them. The first person who ever won the game show did so without using any lifelines, which is pretty impressive if you as me.
He used phone-a-friend to call his dad when he got to the final question to tell him that he was about to win. Then answered the question correctly without help.
Cash Cab Contestants Don’t Really Get Cash
When you watch the show Cash Cab on TV, you see winning contestants step out of the Cash Cab with handfuls of what looks like actual cash.
The thing is, it’s not the safest thing in the world to wander the streets of a big city with a whole lot of cash money in your pocket. Usually, winners are mailed their winnings after the show. The cash you see on TV is just for show.
You’ll Never Guess Who Composed The Wheel of Fortune‘s Theme Music
The original Wheel of Fortune theme song called, “Big Wheels” was composed by none other than Alan Thicke. Alan Thicke is a Canadian actor, comedian, and songwriter, and he’s the father of “Blurred Lines” singer, Robin Thicke.
In 1983, it was replaced by the show creator’s own song, “Changing Keys”, to allow him to collect the royalties instead. In the television game, it’s all about making as much money as possible.
Picking A Replacement For Barker Proved Difficult
Bob Barker was pretty much a legend when he retired from The Price is Right in 2007. Finding a replacement for a legend isn’t all that easy.
CBS considered multiple hosts for the gig including George Hamilton, John O’ Hurley, and Mario Lopez. Rosie O’Donnell wanted the job and Barker even gave her his endorsement, but the show never asked her to try out. They thought that Drew Carey was the best man for the job.
Only One Contestant Made A Perfect Bid On The Showcase
The Showcase Showdown is a notoriously difficult game on The Price is Right. Some contestants have done quite well on this segment, but only one has guessed the dollar amount right on the nose.
His name was Terry Kniess, and he was a Price Is Right superfan who had meticulously studied the show. He memorized the values of all of the Showcase items on previous shows and applied his knowledge to his Showcase.
You Wait A While To Claim Your Prizes
You don’t just walk out of the Price is Right right studio with a brand new car and pockets full of cash. It takes a long time for the prizes to actually get to you.
The winners have to fill out a whole bunch of paperwork. Prizes that aren’t cars get shipped to contestants homes sometimes months after the show airs. Vehicles need to be picked up at local car dealerships.