People who have been on game shows return with a lot of memories and secret information. Whether it’s anecdotes and recollections of the famous set, or a close encounter with a loved host, whether it’s anecdotes and recollections of former contestants.
Get the inside scoop on shows like The Price Is Right, Let’s Make a Deal, and more.
1. In the show Jeopardy!, the questions to qualify were deliberately tough than other televised ones.
“I tried out for Jeopardy! once. They said they deliberately make the qualifying questions much harder than what you see on the show because 1) they want to find people who are actually smart and not just lucky, and 2) people get kinda stupid when you put a TV camera on them.” – u/wingnutzero
2. A vet mentioned that the show Total Wipeout was so tough that he’d rather reenlist than do it again.
“I was on Total Wipeout, the British version…
[T]hey don’t look for people who have any athletic ability; they look for “characters.” I literally only got in because I mentioned in my audition that I was [in] my college’s glee club, which is a pretty unique thing in the UK, and they hooked on that like a leech. They wanted me to sing all the time and crap like that. I refused because I’m not that desperate for attention. Because they no longer had the “selling point” they thought they had, they made my “thing” that I couldn’t speak. It was pretty hilarious, but in hindsight really petty…
[I]t is sooo much harder than it looks. I threw up and both my legs seized up after I came off. Two people went to the hospital. One guy dislocated a knee. One girl landed funnily and her throat closed off. One girl had a bruise that took up her entire leg. One of our guys was ex-army, and when he came off, he said in full seriousness, “I’d rather go back to Baghdad than do that again.” – u/leeisawesome
3. In the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, lifelines had permission to Google answers.
“I was a lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. We were prepped, the five of us that were the chosen lifelines, and in this prepping, there was no mention about Googling.
In other words, it was understood that using the 30-second window to Google the question would be acceptable. Many people wonder this, I think, so I thought I’d share.” – u/Toastwaver
4. No one from the crew of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire had any idea regarding the questions.
“I won [$8,000] on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Backstage, they gave a lot of tips and one serious warning.
The tips were to use your Ask the Audience lifeline EARLY. It’s best if you use it first, and you DON’T want to use it on the hard questions. The logic is you’re on the show and they’re not, so it’s likely you know more than the people in the audience. The harder the question, the less likely they are to be helpful.
Another tip was to talk out your answer and listen to the audience’s reaction. If you say you’re leaning toward one answer, and everyone gasps really loudly, you should at least reconsider your answer. A lady who went after me didn’t do this and [ended] up blowing it before she even got to the save point, so she went home with nothing.
They also said do NOT joke around with the “final answer” phrase. There’s a guy in the control booth who is listening just for those words. If he thinks you said it, he hits a button, and you are locked in, even if you were just kidding.
Finally, they told us that the questions are generated by a company that has nothing else to do with the production company. That is, the questions are not generated in-house. A company in another part of town comes up with them and delivers them on CDs. The guys in the production booth just grab one off the stack and put it in for each new contestant. They have no idea what’s on them and told us all this to make the point that if you feel like you’ve somehow been cheated, go ahead and sue. They take these precautions to ensure that if you do try to take them to court, you will lose.” – u/not_a_Tony
5. The wheel in the show Wheel of Fortune was surprisingly small.
“I was on Wheel of Fortune… You get to the studio in the morning, about 7:30 or so, and hang out in the “green room” for a while. You fill out paperwork, talk with the other contestants, drink coffee, eat cheap pastries, etc. The contestant coordinators really do their job well. They are there to pump you up, tell you tips about gameplay, and answer any questions.
They take you out to the studio, [and] have you take pictures and take turns spinning the wheel. You also film a “hometown howdy,” which may or may not play on the local channel in your city.
The wheel is pretty heavy and smaller than you think. You also stand on platforms that [rise] up and down to make everyone the same height.” – u/GaryTheBruce
6. In the show Let’s Make a Deal, they gave cash and then took it away afterward.
“I won $100 cash on Let’s Make a Deal. They give you cash, then cut to commercial and take the cashback. Then after the show, I had to fill out a huge packet of legal stuff. A little over a month later I got a check in the mail.” – u/kingbrassica
7. There was always a lawyer in the show Jeopardy! in case of contestants had concerns.
“I was on Jeopardy! a few years ago. Everything seemed on the up and up to me.
In the green room beforehand, they even brought in a lawyer and said that he would be there the whole time, and we could speak to him any time if we had any concerns, even during a taping.
The other interesting thing was that one of the contestant coordinators said, “We’re not going to tell you how to play the game, but the stats show that everyone ends up with more money at the end if you start at the top of a category and go straight down,” to discourage Daily Double hunting and random category-jumping like that one guy did last season.” – u/monkeyfighting-snake
8. Most winners from the show Dating Game didn’t really go on a date.
“I was on The Dating Game in the late ’90s.
We had to prepare answers to each of the questions the bachelorette was going to ask us. So an hour before we went on, a producer sat with us (the three bachelors) and went over the questions, and quizzed us until we had answers we were comfortable with.
Also, if you win, you don’t have to go on the date… in fact, we were told that 95% of people choose the [$100] (at the time in 1997) alternative… AND if you do take the vacation package you don’t have to go at the same time as the other person. It rarely ends in an actual date.
A friend of mine who was a fellow improv performer had the job of vetting people to be on the show. He asked me to do it so he could meet his quota, and I did the interview and was asked to be on. I ended up acting crazy to make my friends in the audience laugh and was told by Chuck Woolery that (at the time) in his 11 years of hosting The Dating Game I was by far the weirdest. So I guess I had that going for me?
Also… almost everyone on that show is an actor. If you did anything in addition to performing… that was announced as your job. I was a successful voice-over actor at the time, but did a little volunteer teaching… so I was a “teacher from Indiana,” which was the state I was born in.
I didn’t “win” and received as a parting gift 20 free minutes on the psychic network (1-900 call-in deal) and a “power crystal” since they were the sponsor. No joke.” – u/ahorseinasuit
9. The winners in the show Price Is Right were advised to kiss Bob Barker.
“I was on The Price Is Right a long time ago. The only thing I remember is they “suggest” you give Bob a kiss. I won enough to pay off my student loans. I was so happy I raced offstage to seal the deal and forgot to kiss him!” – u/Jacsmom
10. The contestants in Jeopardy! weren’t allowed to interact with the audience.
“Two-time Jeopardy! champion (1997) and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire contestant No. 8 (August 1999) checking in. Long time ago, but here’s what I remember:
1. Sequestration. Contestants on [both shows] were [not] permitted to talk to the audience at any time. My wife was with me the whole day for WWTBAM, so we could speak with each other and with the other contestants, but NOT with the audience. At Jeopardy! I asked for (and was denied) permission to speak with my wife.
2. I was allowed to have five phone-a-friends on the Millionaire show. They were contacted ahead of time and instructed to sit by the phone between 7 and 10 pm. Also, if called, they were to answer on the third ring.
3. I had a network escort to make sure I didn’t talk to anyone, and while he was escorting me to the men’s room we ran into my father. My dad jokingly said, “If you have any trouble, just look at me and I’ll mouth the answers to you.” Network escort then moved my whole family to the other side of the studio so I couldn’t see them. Hilarious, thought I. 🙂
4. Jeopardy! contestants are not permitted to tell anyone the results of their show until it airs. I had my whole school convinced I had lost. I hadn’t.
5. If the studio folks don’t like the way you sign your name with the light pen, you will be asked to rewrite it.
6. Dress warm. For Jeopardy! the temperature was just fine, but in New York, the [Millionaire] studio was kept at what felt like 35 degrees Fahrenheit.” – u/Jane_Auir
11. In Norway, the contestants of Millionaire were offered booze before the taping began.
“I was a contestant on the Norwegian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (one of the eight “challengers”; didn’t get to compete for real). I went to a sort of tryout where we did a quiz, then got a couple of minutes in front of a camera to talk about ourselves. I was invited to participate a few weeks later.
There weren’t really any particular rules that I can remember; it was all pretty laid-back. All the potential contestants had a short private chat with the host before the taping where we went over the anecdotes she was going to use if I got in the chair (they had talked to my family to dig up stuff they could use beforehand).
One thing I do remember is this: They told us that the host’s job was more or less to help us win money because winning is better TV than losing. So we were advised to pay close attention to the “hints” she was dropping: If she was subtly pressing us to go for an answer we were considering, we should go for it.
Another thing that surprised me a little: We were all offered a little beer or wine before the taping, to take the edge off. I declined since I was worried I would have to pee in the middle of the whole thing.
So in the end, I botched all the qualifying questions and never got the chance. Should have had a drink.” – u/trygvebratteli
12. Before the taping of the show Price Is Right, the phones of the audience and contestants were confiscated.
“I also went to a [Price Is Right] taping. Drew Carey was nice. But that situation takes a great deal of time. And they took our cellphones and cameras away from us. They know who will be picked because outside the studio we lined up and [they] spoke to us all. The producer picked the contestants then but didn’t tell us who. So people going up are genuinely surprised.
The biggest thing is how small it is. For years on TV, that studio looked to have SO MANY people. But it’s tiny, crowded, and not so many people. It’s hard to see what’s happening on the stage, too. The lady next to my sister got picked, and sis jumped up and down with her and hugged her just to get on TV. 9/10 would not do it again. Way too long. So much waiting between camera shots, etc.” – u/culady
13. Even with a broken wrist, the host of the show Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek was a gentleman.
“Since I was on the [Jeopardy!] Teen Tournament, we had a bit more interaction with Alex than I think is typical. He was a total gentleman, even with a broken wrist that was clearly causing him some pain. He was kind and welcoming to us and stuck around for the after-party for a little while and humored us by taking silly pictures.
The toughest part was the buzzer timing for me. I mean, nerves, obviously, but since it was easy clues for us, the buzzer was everything.” – u/Flewtea
14. There was a huge table with food at the set of Wheel of Fortune, for Pat and Vanna.
“Wheel of Fortune winner here. They encourage you to buy the vowels. They also told us to solve the puzzles as soon as we knew the answers: The more puzzles we got through, the more money we could win.
There is a huge table of food hidden behind the giant board for Pat and Vanna to gorge themselves on between episode shoots. That giant board really isn’t that giant in living color. And yes, Pat Sajak is just as awesome as he seems!” – u/mitnamdor
15. The show Wipeout only wanted insane-acting contestants.
“I auditioned for Wipeout. They were only interested in people that acted literally insane.
“Are you ready to go crazy?!?”
“I’M ALREADY HEARING VOICES!!!!”
“You’re hired.” – u/meghonsolozar
16. The show Price Is Right’s contestants weren’t allowed to hug the show host Bob Barker.
“Went on The Price Is Right in 2004. Bob Barker was over 80 at the time. They very blatantly remind you that “Bob is fragile” and “DO NOT HUG BOB.” People did anyway.” – u/coldenigma
17. The host of the show Price Is Right, Drew Carey, gave an old woman a lap dance.
“I was at a taping of The Price Is Right. During the commercial break, Drew Carey talked to the crowd a lot and gave a lady a lap dance because it was her 90th birthday.” – u/black_gallagher1
18. The contestants of Let’s Make a Deal weren’t allowed to look disappointed at the prizes they won.
“I was on Let’s Make a Deal a couple of years back and they told us not to look disappointed with our prize unless we were legit zonked.
Also, I worked for Disney at the time, and they wanted to make sure if I was asked to say I worked at “a theme park” and not name which specific one.” – u/Pandaplz
19. The contestants of the shows The Chase and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire were made to reshoot the reaction shots.
“Two-time game show contestant here (Millionaire and The Chase). What both shows have in common is that they often had me reshoot reaction shots because of poor camera angles or host miscues. So, when I inevitably got a question wrong, my stupid pouty face and “aw shucks” response was quite possibly a result of five or six “okay, DJBTD, let’s try that again…” – u/DJ_Black_Ted_Danson
20. There were no rules but just slime in the show Slime Time Live.
“I was on Slime Time Live on Nickelodeon. There were no rules, just slime. I ended up winning a karaoke machine.” – u/Synaps3collaps3
21. The money that contestants won the show Millionaire actually changed their lives.
“I won $125,000 on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire about 20 years ago. After taxes, I still had about $80,000. I paid my car off, got a computer, was able to quit a full-time job I hated and take a more enjoyable part-time job, and went to college. Now I work at a job I love that I wouldn’t have if I never got a college education. RIP Regis.” – u/lavenderincense