79 People Share What Happened With Their Prizes After Winning A Game Show

And behind Door Number 3, you’ll see that you just won a brand new car! We can’t wait to send you home with your prize! Just remember that first you’ll have to pay taxes on it, buy car insurance, pay for gas and figure out a way to transport it all the way back to your home state. Congratulations! 

Game shows have been a television staple for decades, but have you ever considered what it’s actually like to win one? Well, lucky for us, plenty of former game show contestants have detailed their experiences online, so we don’t have to go on The Price Is Right to understand what it’s like. Below, you’ll find info about the money awarded, the downsides of the prizes, and how the experience impacted participants’ lives, as well as interviews with game show champions Stephen Hall and Cory Anotado. Enjoy getting a glimpse into the wild world of game shows, and be sure to upvote the stories that make you want to audition for Jeopardy!

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My high school drama and speech teacher was the “friend” someone called for a “phone a friend” option on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? back when Regis was still the host. The guy who called him shared a portion of the money with my teacher, like 20-30k and and my teacher used the money to adopt a baby

Image credits: GreenLigh


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.

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To learn more about what it’s like to win a game show, we reached out to Stephen Hall, the man behind HowToWinGameShows.com. Stephen is an experienced game show winner, and lucky for us, he was kind enough to have a chat with Bored Panda about his experiences.

“Here in Australia, Sale of the Century was a hugely popular show from 1980 – 2001,” he shared. “I competed on it in 1994, and lost. Then I went back on five years later… and lost again. After that, the show was axed… but then resurrected in 2005 under the new name Temptation. I went on Temptation that year and won seven nights in a row, taking home the entire prize showcase and an incredible cash jackpot! As a result, the following year I competed in Australia’s Brainiest Quiz Master (against other quiz show winners), and managed to win that too!”


Not a game show. I rang the bell on the sledgehammer game at a country fair. The girl I was on a date with was impressed. Still married after 35 plus years.

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This will get buried but I won Wheel of Fortune 2 years ago. I won $67,000. After taxes it ended up being about $52,000. I paid off all my debt, went to Disney, bought some new furniture for the house and paid cash for a car. Still have about 20k sitting in savings. It was absolutely phenomenal. It had always been my dream and I still can’t believe it happened.

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We were also curious if Stephen found the prizes he won to be worth it. “You bet they were!” he told Bored Panda. “Among the prizes I won on Temptation were holidays (domestic and international), jewelry, a lounge suite, a big screen TV, a kitchen renovation, a new car, a huge cash jackpot… and a telescope. Absolutely life-changing stuff, the benefits of which I – and my family – are still feeling today. The prize on Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster was a $20,000 donation to a charity of my choice (the RSPCA).”

Stephen added that he had been “avidly studying Temptation” as he trained for it, so he was “super familiar with the all ins and outs of the format and all the prizes on offer.” The only thing that may have surprised him was the telescope!


I won a few thousand on Jeopardy a few years ago. It allowed my wife and I to finally go on a honeymoon two years after getting married. Maybe not life-changing on a grand scale, but definitely made our lives a bit better.

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This was way back in the early aughts; my roommate was booked on a Fox Network game-show, I think it was called ‘Greed’, and meant to compete with the wildly popular (at that time) ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’.

I still remember the day he comes home from taping the show; opens the door, throws his arms up in the air in a victory pose, s**t-eating grin, and declares, “I just won a LOT of money!!”

Apparently he hd signed an NDA of sorts, so he couldn’t tell any of us (friends & Family) how much it was until the show aired a few months later

He won 300K before taxes (which were significant). Funny thing; he only bought one big thing, a new but entry-level Honda and put the remaining $$ in the bank. Didn’t change him in the slightest from my recollection.

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When I was 10 I correctly guessed the weight of a pumpkin and won a packet of giant cabbage seeds. I never got round to planting them. Life has been downhill ever since that peak.

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We also asked Stephen what game show contestants should understand before deciding to go on any of these programs. “Rule #1 is make sure you know – I mean, REALLY know – the show,” he says. “Watch the show, study the show, analyze it and play along against the other contestants on recorded episodes – or on episodes on streaming services – using your remote control as the buzzer. If you’re serious about winning, remember that it IS a competition, and you need to train for it in a serious way. But if you’re just going on for a bit of fun, and to maybe win a nice prize or two as a bonus, of course that’s cool too. It just wasn’t my approach… I always approached it as a mission.”


I was on a kids game show in the late 80s with my brother. We won, but lost the grand prize (trip to Disneyland) in the bonus round, and were given a $500 gift certificate to a toy store instead. $250 each for a toy store was absolutely incredible for a couple of kids, especially in the 80s. I still remember that shopping trip.

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I won the showcase on the price is right. It was the spring break episode so it was only college students. It was my senior year of college. Winning a new car and a bunch of other stuff made the last semester of college awesome. It’s s been 9.5 years and I still drive the car. So I guess it’s changed my life in that I’ve never had car payments.

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I was on Wheel of Fortune in 2017 and won the bonus round. I ended up with $46,200 and a trip to Cuba. After taxes I made close to $30,000 and the trip was amazing. I was on for Teachers Week and am still treated as the local celebrity around school. Vanna was a doll and Pat is what you would expect.

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Due to how much success he’s had, Stephen believes that his game show days are behind him. “It’s definitely someone else’s turn, and I think going back after all the incredible good fortune I had on Temptation and Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster might just be a little bit greedy,” he shared. “These days, I’m more interested in sharing all I’ve learned, through my blog HowToWinGameShows.com. You can find ten years’ worth of tips, hints, interviews, behind-the-scenes features and general game show-related information there.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Stephen or thinking about auditioning for a game show yourself, be sure to check out his blog or his eBook, How To Win Game Shows: Winning Tips, Tactics and Strategies from Game Show Producers, Hosts, Writers… and Champions!


Not a game show, but I won a mooing contest at a fair. Prize was a walkman in the 90s. MOOOO?


One of my parents won £500,000 on a game show in 2012. Before this parent went on the show we had been served an eviction notice from the rented house we were in; needless to say they bought a lovely house and it was the first time I ever had a nice bedroom to decorate. Being on the property ladder changed their lives drastically and now they’ve moved to the upside down place (from the UK) and they’re living their best life.

Edit: for people getting asking about the pronouns it was a protection of identity is all.

The show was called red or black. It was cancelled not long after

Yes I meant Australia, no it wasn’t bought; they had to prove their societal worth

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My brother was on pyramid in 77 or 78, he got a lifetime of rice a roni. It was a case of like 48 boxes every year for like 3 years. We got a letter that the show was going off air and out of the rice a roni business. Cut us right off.

P.S. my wife said it was a show called $25000 dollar pyramid.

Image credits: c3h8pro

To learn even more from a game show expert, we were also lucky enough to get in touch with game show champion and the founder of BuzzerBlog, Cory Anotado. Cory has competed in 5 game shows already: Jep!, Wheel of Fortune, Wowowee, The Chase, and Jeopardy! So we were curious what this expert’s thoughts on the programs were.

“Game shows are intertwined with the history of television. Some of the very first television programs ever were game shows!” he explained. “They’re a mainstay in many cultures because people love playing games, and people love watching people play games. From the dramatic highs of someone winning a million dollars on Millionaire, to the lows of someone absolutely saying something stupid on Family Feud, game shows provide all the things people expect from entertainment.”


Not me, but my parents were on the “Newlywed Game” in the early 80s and won!

I guess beforehand, there was a list of items they were given and they were supposed to pick 3 of the prize items and put them in order of their 1st choice down to their 3rd. They had just moved into their first house and really needed a washer and dryer, so they put that first (and assumed that’s what they would end up with if they won), and for the 3rd choice they put a new pop-up tent trailer with camping supplies (something my mom definitely did NOT want lol)

Wellllll… they ended up with the pop-up tent trailer and camping supplies. On the video you can see my mom visibly upset they didn’t get the washer and dryer hahaha poor mom.

Anyway, they didn’t receive their prize until their episode aired and they had to go pick it up themselves down in Los Angeles or pay a hefty price to have the prize delivered (they chose to pick it up themselves). They then incurred costs to upgrade my mom’s car to an SUV with a tow hitch for the trailer.

All in all, it ended up being a great prize because they kept it for 12 years, which included the first 8 years of my life. We took a lot of great family camping trips in that little trailer with some amazing memories made. My mom didn’t totally hate it, but she eventually made my dad sell it and upgrade to a bigger trailer with it’s own bathroom and shower haha

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Not a game show, but when I worked at a hardware store we got a phone call for help in tools. I was free and grabbed the call. Introduced myself, asked how I could be of help and the customer said they were looking for a ‘drill that has a function to help drill through concrete’ so I answered a hammer drill, and all these alarms and s**t started going off. The dude on the other end of the call said he was from some radio show about tools, and since I had gotten the answer correctly, he’d send me a pizza.

Got a pizza. Was dope.


My mom and I went to The Price is Right and my mom got called down, got onstage, and won her game. She did not win her wheel spin unfortunately. But she won $10,000 cash from her game so that was pretty good. Can’t complain about winning a bunch of cash. I think about 30-40% went to taxes.

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When it comes to giving out great prizes, Cory says one show in particular has changed the game. “The one game show on modern television that has absolutely transformed the art of prizes is Press Your Luck on ABC. Hosted by Elizabeth Banks, the new modern Press Your Luck contains a bonus round in which the player attempts to Beat The Whammy by using all their spins against a Big Board filled with not only cash and whammies, but personalized prizes catered to the contestant that won the game,” the expert explained. “Dream cars, fantasy trips, multitudes of their favorite candies or foods—the notion that the prizes are specifically catered to the contestant playing hasn’t been done this successfully ever.”


I won the top prize ($500) on a quiz show called Inquizition. This was around 1999. The check arrived right before my car registration was due, which was helpful because I had just lost my job.

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My grandmother was Queen For A Day. It’s an older game show. She won a new living room set. Pretty nice for the times.

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I was on “Let’s Make a Deal” in 2016 and I won a new car. It was actually perfect timing because my old car was on its last legs and I had started saving for a new one, then I won a new one and the money I had saved paid the fees and stuff.

I won the car in August but didn’t actually get it until November when the episode aired, but they drove it to my apartment and had me sign the deed and it was all pretty painless. I had heard rumors throughout life about winning on gameshows “costing you” and things like that, I guess because I already had some money saved for fees and taxes it ended up really painless. Got a brand new car work 16k for about 3k in fees and stuff. Totally worth it and would totally recommend it!

Here’s a tip: If you ever go to one of those game shows that pick contestants out of the audience, they have a producer briefly interview EVERYONE (usually in groups) beforehand, and as long as you’re lively without being theatrical, and seem interesting without being crazy, you have a good shot at being picked. When the producer was interviewing the 20 member slot of audience members I was grouped with, he asked everyone their name and what they did and one interesting fact about themselves. And one random guy who desperately wanted to be on TV started doing the worm there in the interview area. You could immediately see on the producer’s face that though he was forcing laughter, that’s definitely not what they’re looking to put on TV. Loose cannons are a big no go.

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Cory also has some wise words for anyone considering going on a game show. “If you are an American and going on a game show, don’t do it to get rich quick or to get out of dire straits—the taxes will eat up a lot of your winnings and chances are you won’t be left with much more than 30 minutes of memories,” he explained. “If that’s okay with you, then get on a game show and have the time of your life. It’s such a unique and fun experience that I recommend anyone who wants to should definitely try. And if you need help getting on a game show, read the BuzzerBlog guide How To Get On A Game Show.”

While Cory has plenty of game show experience already, he says he would absolutely be interested in participating in another. “Out of the game shows currently on the air, I know I could win the top prize on GSN’s Split Second—trivia is right up my alley,” he shared.


I won $1600 on Cash Cab. Who would have thought that knowing the name of George Clooney’s pet pig would prove to actually be useful someday?

We were given “money” on the show, but after filming wrapped, the producers took it back and the money was sent to us after the episode aired. None of our earnings were taxed because this wasn’t in the US.

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My brother won $15,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in 2009. It’s funny ’cause we were both on the show in November (I was in the audience), but we didn’t get the check until February. Then, we got a letter from “The Executives of ABC” or some arbitrary name like that with a check for 15-large. Since my brother and I were only used to cashing our checks at check-cashing places, that’s exactly where we brought it. They charged us $100 and we got $14,900 in 100s, 50s, and 20s.

As soon as we got home, my brother dumped all the money on the bed and rolled around in it. Quite possibly one of the only times in my life where I’ll be able to do that with that much money. We also blew like $2000 at the mall, just like dumb kids.

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My mom got on (and won) Wheel of Fortune. I’ll try to be vague to protect her identity.

Per the show, she officially won an all expense paid trip to a country I won’t list, a (at the time) brand new infinity (2010 range) and like $25,000 cash.

She said she was required to pay tax on the car, which was several thousand dollars up front that she just had to pay as her game show winnings took a while to arrive so she couldn’t use that. She took out a short term loan using the car as collateral to pay that tax. She sold the car, paid off the loan, and kept the difference.

Something they don’t tell you is how heavily taxed income from game shows is; I remember her only keeping a few grand out of her 25k. She did, however, get to keep most of the money from selling the car AND the trip to a foreign country was legit (including the spending cash they give you when you’re out there). Overall, she used the money to pay off some debts and lived basically the same after the show (minus some debt and with the added life experience in another country).

For any wheel of fortune fans, she said Pat is short in person, that everyone stands on pedestals to make them appear identical in height, and that Vanna White is extremely nice.

Image credits: Lord_Metagross

“To aspiring game show contestants: be personable, be energetic, and be 125% genuinely you,” Cory told Bored Panda. “Once you get the call to be on a game show, understand that from that call to the end of the game, you should pay attention and work on STRATEGY. If it’s a Trivia show, I’m sorry to break it to you, but chances are you’re not going to learn anything new in the time between the call and the taping. So work on the strategy of the game the best you can.”

If you’d like to learn more about Corey or the wild world of game shows, be sure to visit BuzzerBlog right here!


I was on a Game Show called “Let’s Ask America” in 2013 and I ended up winning $24,000. It was so insanely surreal and I couldn’t believe I had actually won that amount of money until after the show aired and they sent me a physical check in the mail.

It was absolutely life changing for me. I was 26 at the time of filming and had been working 3 jobs (marketing firm, restaurant, bar) just to get by in and otherwise s****y economy. I wasn’t exactly drowning in debt or anything, more so just getting by pay check to pay check. I also didn’t mind working at all. It was just that I had all these travel plans that I was constantly dreaming about.

I pretty much felt like I was in this constant cycle in which I could never really save much. So, when I received this relatively large sum of money, I decided to sell everything and plan out some travels. I ended up getting a one year work & holiday for Australia and arrived here in 2014 with nothing but a backpack and a duffel bag.

My experience has been nothing short of amazing. I ended up finding work at a marketing agency within my first week here and they went on to sponsor me. (side note: I made way more at that firm in an initial entry level role than I did a the agency back in the US). Six years later, I have tripled my income since arriving here and now have a great role at an agency I love.

I’m now a permanent resident of Australia and have about 6 months until I can apply for citizenship. Since living in Australia, I’ve been to 12 different countries which for some reason always felt impossible when I was living back home. I’ve just loved my overall experience and am so grateful that those winnings were the catalyst for it.

[Winning Clip](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVc_2dlXLNk) “Let’s Ask America”

Bonus: I ended up on the Australian version of “The Chase” but didn’t win any money on that one haha.


A friend of mine won one of the last episodes aired of The Weakest Link. It was an episode where they were supposed to be look alikes of the host? she won 100k! She was wanting to be able to stay home with her kids and this allowed her to do that. She homeschools her six kids now and is just such a happy, sweet lady!

Image credits: ChickenMathisReal


Was the closest guess in a “Sweets in the jar” game at our local Community Centre. I won a hamper of wine, cheeses and crackers.

I was 9.


My girlfriend and I were on Shop Til You Drop and won big. I still use the dishes every day. The trip (trips? It was a long time ago) I won was decent. I paid the taxes on my winnings with a check before leaving the lot. It took months and months for all the deliveries to come in, which was weird. I sold off some of it, used a lot of it, and can’t find the episode anywhere.

How did it help my life? The producer became a friend of ours and helped me propose to my gameshow partner girlfriend and we’re still happily married 15 years later.


Mine was technically a game show. I remember vividly as I was reading through the disclosure agreements, it was listed as such. I was on a show on CNBC `Make me a Millionaire Inventor.” We were episode 1 season 1; the premiere.

We had developed a mouthguard that measures the severity and frequency of sport impacts. We ended up “winning” $100,000 investment from the investors and everything worked out.

We received the capital and deployed it effectively. We are now a growing company, that helps keep athletes safe around the world.

For us it was rather monumental!


When I was about ten, there was a gameshow on Spanish TV where you would call in to play the game. My mom and I got through one night and won a grocery store certificate for $100. We were so excited as this was big money in the eighties. We get to the store, by bus, and do our shopping. We get to the register and let the check out person know we won the prize and she tells us the manager isn’t there and that we would need to come back another day for verification. My mom explains that we arrived by bus and how it is difficult to make the trip again. I remember feeling so sad. Thankfully, another employee at the supermarket stepped in and let us take the groceries home. I still remember the feeling of relief when he allowed us to do that.


My girlfriend (now wife) won a year’s supply of pizza as a consolation prize on the Price is Right. Only problem was we live in California and the pizzeria was in New York.

So what did they do?

You guessed it, they shipped the pizzas via regular delivery (not even overnight) from New YORK to our apartment in California. When the pizzas got there they were often three or four days old, and were not refrigerated, thus moldy and disgusting.

After about a week of this we contacted the show and they agreed to a “cash value” of just over $100 (far less than the value of the pizzas).

Ever since then I have had a dislike for the Price is Right.



To expand a bit on what others have already said, after you win they pull you aside and make you sign triplicate carbon receipts for the money you won. It’s a really weird day – going from exhausted shambling at 5 am to THE MOST ADRENALINE IMAGINABLE to bureaucracy to walking around shell-shocked but it’s still two hours to dinner-time.

Bonus: I just poked around the Sony Pictures lot for a bit and bumped into Ron Howard in a bathroom.


Not me, But Best Friend …..

Friday Night, Very VERY drunk, (he no memory for about a 4-6 hours) lots of drugs, generally a complete fun mess.

So he wakes up in the morning, with the worlds worst hangover, he proceeds to sit in front of his Sky box, and chillax, during the course of the day he looks at his recorded shows only to see a new recording from the night before.

So watching the recording, its a call in game show. The aim of the game was to guess 1 of 10 answers but the question was completely random like “there is a knock at the door who is it?” aka pure luck really.

In his Drunk state, he called in (via work to avoid the perm number) and made a guess, he said “gas man” the result? he won £6000.

So my friend with the worst hangover of his life, is sitting in front of his TV watching himself win 6k, they put the money in his account that day, win win.

He then spent it on a brand new plasma TV! (this was a while ago)

Image credits: le_anon_le_story


Won on a radio game show. 2 tickets to a festival I couldn’t attend and headphones worth a grand total of €7,50. Life hasn’t been the same since.

Image credits: Ganzkapoeri


A family friend won a lifetime supply supply of tic-tacs off of Match Game in the ’70s as a consolation prize. She said they sent her one box a month for about a year and stopped. She was okay with that.


I won a consultation prize on The Price is Right and it was supposed to be a gift card to some spa and a weird brand MP3 player (2010). The spa was in LA and I didn’t live there so I don’t know if that’s why this happened, but they instead sent me 4 MP3 players. It actually did help my life because I sold them MP3 players online and bought all my Christmas gifts with the money.


Canadian – Won $3600 on Wheel of Fortune in 1995.

After the completion of the taping of the show – we are hustled into a side room where we have the option to accept or decline any of the winnings and prizes we get.

On the advice of my accountant – I was told to accept everything. Canadian tax law classifies game show winnings as lottery winnings and are tax-exempt.

However IRS still takes their cut. Lost about 1/3 to IRS – but can be reclaimed in the form of a US tax credit against any future US earnings I may have. CA state lottery commission takes a chunk as well.

Anyway – we are told that we would be responsible for shipping and duty on all parting gifts. Was also advised that the final cheque would be sent after the last of the parting gifts had been claimed. ‘No problem’, I thought. “When will I ever do this again.”

PROBLEM! Each of the parting gifts was shipped to me independently of the others, and the shipping, and freight forwarding fees bordered on usury.

First to arrive was a Dirt Devil Dust Buster – along with a UPS charge of $65. Probably could have wandered down to WalMart and picked one up for $35.

Next to arrive was a three piece toddler’s clothing set. Admittedly, a nice little sweater, shirt and pant set – but hardly worth the $38 in shipping and cross border brokerage fees.

The facial cleanser and loofah sponge were next – a snip at just $29. Cried a bit on the inside when I found the exact product (complete with a bonus facial toner) for $11 at a drug store in town.

The gift certificates for the four bottles of sleeping pills came without by standard mail – but were only valid for redemption in the USA.

The best was the item I had believed to be a SunBeam bread maker. I was surprised when the UPS driver showed up and only asked for $27 in brokerage and shipping fees. Seemed like a pretty good deal – until I opened the box and discovered two loaves of SunBeam bread…or something that resembled that. They’d been held up in a brokerage warehouse for three weeks, and were more suitable for a ‘science project” than a “sandwich”

The last of my prizes having arrived – I did receive the cheque soon thereafter.

Last little bonus – UPS driver made one last trip – with another $65 tab. Not sure what it could be as all of the gift had been accounted for.

By error – a second Dirt Devil Dust Buster – FML

19 years later – still a good party story.


I won 2nd prize in a beauty contest once, won £10.


My mom bought her, my friends, and I tickets to a nickelback concert 10 years ago for my 15th birthday. The band sick puppies was one of their openers and they had a giveaway when they were playing. The lead singer said text this number and you could win a free guitar. Of course everyone texted it. 30 seconds later my phone buzzes saying Congratulations! You win! So that was pretty cool. Got to meet a band I’ve rarely listened to before that night but hey I got a free autographed electric guitar from them


I was on U-Pick Live on Nickelodeon once as a kid. They were about to wrap up the season before the summer started so they were travelling around a bit and did one week of shows in Orlando, FL where coincidentally my dad was taking my brother and I. At the front gate there was a group of people handing out tickets to get into the screening like they were bibles or something. I begged my dad to let us get them and then I had to beg him again later to let us go and watch the show. Then when we’re there “Pick Boy” comes out and everybody is raising their hands to be picked and screaming, I STAND UP and put both hands in the air and shout. He points at me, I point at myself, he nods, and I run down to the set. They introduce me and ask me what door I wanted to pick from the prize wall. I think I had a chance at winning a “can of cash” which, as the name implies, was a trash can full of money of an undisclosed denomination. I didn’t get that but I got a gamecube, which was not bad at all. The sucky parts were: it took like 4 months for them to ship it to me and I lost the tape of the show pretty quickly after I got it.


I won the grand prize on this game show called Beat The Geeks that was on Comedy Central. This was back in like 2003 or so. The grand prize was a trip to the Cannes film festival as part of Troma Films. Turns out my contact person at Troma who was supposed to pick me up and take me to the group had quit a week prior and did not leave a follow up plan for me. So my first night ever in a foreign country I was all alone and there were pretty much no rooms available. I was always kind of a pushover and never really stood up for myself, but I instantly became a ‘don’t take no for an answer’ kid, and after walking around town for a while I found a fancy a*s hotel and talked my way into getting one of the rooms. I went out, I got food, I got wine, I smoked French cigarettes, and I laughed with the greatest sense of pride and confidence I’ve ever had in my life. I later met up with the team, took a day trip to Monaco, met friends I still talk to from all around the world, and almost got arrested while dressed up as the Toxic Avenger doing some guerilla parading on the main street with these crazy dudes from Baltimore. The other prizes, like the DVDs and the TV, were great but this one…this one made me feel alive.


My mom was on Jeopardy! in 1991 and got no money but won:

a cellphone (huge 90s cellphone that you plug into your cat)

a year’s supply of centrum silver (one of the show’s sponsors, a vitamin for men)

a blender that immediately broke

EDIT: not gonna change it


My old boss won on GSN’s “Trivial Pursuit” show while that was still on the air. He said the person that won in the taping just before his got a trip to Jamaica, so he was looking forward to a tropical vacation.

Imagine his surprise when they announced he’d won an all-expenses-paid trip… to San Antonio.

In his words: “After you’ve gone to Six Flags, you know what’s fun to do? Pack your shit and leave.”


Not strictly a gameshow, but I won a contest on early itv kids television around aged 11. This was the time that laptops were just starting to come out and get big, and thus when the prize was a laptop I decided to enter.

The question was something to do with the cartoon version of tarzan, and I won. The picture showed a brand new laptop.

When it arrived, it was a leapfrog learning laptop aimed for 6 year olds. I was 11.

And batteries weren’t included


About $60K on The $100,000 Pyramid. Got a check in the mail about 2 weeks after the show aired. They tell you beforehand (and you have to sign a paper confirming your understanding), that they do not have to pay you your winnings if the show gets cancelled and your episodes are never broadcast.

I don’t recall a lot of tax withholding, but you do have to declare the winnings just like regular income, so you’re taxed on it at the same rate your other income is taxed. The bummer is that applies to both cash and prizes, so if you win a $5,000 cruise, it’s still gonna cost you a few grand in taxes. Thus, when you walk off the stage at the end of the show, the contestant coordinator has a list of the prizes you won, and you can waive your right to any of them to avoid the tax bill. (In the old days of “Wheel of Fortune”, the contestant won an amount of money in each round, and then had to go “shopping” from a gallery of prizes with pretty high prices, so they ended up with no cash but a lot of useless crap that they had to pay taxes on. Due to contestant complaints, they did away with that part of the game and now you get to keep the money you win. Check YouTube to see some of those.)

Finally, the secret treasure you win are the “parting gifts”. They mention them quickly during the end credits, but your find a package on your doorstep every few days from the most random companies. I got about 50 coupons for free bags of kitty litter (gave them to classmates who had cats), a vacuum cleaner, a clock radio, a case of Hormel Chili, and a check for $25 from a denture cream company. And because they are considered promotional items, there’s no tax on those.


My family and I were the last family to win $10,000 on Family Feud back in 2000 when Louis Anderson was the host. We were the third show of five on the last day of taping for the season, and the two families behind us didn’t win the $10,000, and they began the next season with a $20,000 prize. (We were also on the show when winners weren’t allowed to come back and repeat, which sucks).

We taped the show in October and our show didn’t air until February. We were told to keep the result under wraps but of course we told all our family and friends about it. We didn’t receive the money until April, since I guess they had to “make money” from our show before they paid us or something. But they auto split the prize for us, and sent me and my four family members $2000 each and a W-2 form at the end of the year. I made a photocopy of the check before I cashed it but I don’t know where it is. I was only 18 when we won so that was like a huge deal to me, and I bought a computer and a few other things for myself for my upcoming college education.

Our video was on YouTube for a while but someone took down our video. I still have my own copy of the video on my computer here but I’ve never really gotten around to uploading it and I don’t want to have to deal with NBC crawling up my ass about posting copyrighted material or anything. It was a lot of fun, though.


I won $15,000 on Millionaire (with Meredith, not Regis).

I kept $11,200. I had to wait 4 months for the episode to air and another month after that to get paid.

Went to England and did a few smaller travel things with it, and then used it to rack up as little debt as possible in Grad School.

Image credits: NoReallyItsJeff


I had just gotten fired/unemployed 1990 or so and I was chilling at home. I called in on a radio show Quiz style game and I won two tickets to the symphony in town for their Christmas show.

Drama ensues…

So I’m pumped because I have no cash and this is going to be the Christmas present for my girlfriend/ soon to be wife, big secret, waiting to the tickets in the mail as the date arrives… nothing! I call the radio station they say the tickets are in the mail.

I quiz my roommate, nothing… a week or so later I have to carry the trash to the curb and grab the first jacket I come too, it’s my roommate’s.

f*****g stubs for the symphony orchestra in the pocket. I couldn’t believe it, he had intercepted the mail.

He was the Jealous sort but it’s not like I was a shining star with two nickels in my pocket no job. I know he did it to make me look bad. I’ll be honest it was a real kick in the gut. Betrayed for perhaps the only time in my life maliciously by a so-called friend.


Years ago called into a radio show and won two tickets to a cruise through the Bahamas. Only seconds later to be told it was strictly for couples 25 and up. Was extremely disappointed (was like 19 or something) and never understood why

Image credits: nawkles


I won so many times on a Sunday morning oldies trivia contest that they finally made a rule that you could only win every 30 days. The strangest thing I won was a pair of cowboy boots. And I didn’t wanna be a cowboy.


I won $1200 (split with a friend, so $600 each) on the Canadian version of Cash Cab. Luckily it was in Canada, which has no prize tax, so we were mailed a check for $1200 even (I remember being so dumbfounded when they turned off the cameras and then took away the big wad of cash they had just handed to us. “We’ll mail you a check.”)

We were young and dumb, so we blew the money on a 10-day long birthday road trip to NYC and Montreal. It was a great time.


Won a competition on a radio show, no prize money but was on the radio, their streaming page and met a spice girl, had my 5 mins of fame. so I pretty much peaked after that.

Still a fun conversation starter.


Not game shows, but back in the early days of music videos – there was a show on a local PBS channel that showed videos on Friday night – they were weird and groovy. Each week they showed post cards that people sent in – and if they showed your post card, you’d get some free albums.

So I sent in a pretty oddball post card I’d draw up, and they showed it. I was called soon thereafter and given a time to come to the studio. I drove up there ( about 30 min. ) and it was a real dump – not surprising. They said I could pick out 3 albums from a pile on a table. The pile was second-rate bands and losers you’d never heard of. I grabbed one of someone I knew – and the other two I don’t even remember what they were.

– Another time, a radio offered free circus tickets for people who called in – and I was lucky and scored 5 tickets. I gave three away and took my little brother to the circus – but still have to pay for parking and crazy triple-priced sodas.


We were on “Family Feud” twice, when Richard Dawson was the host. The first time, we did not go to the final round. For the next year, we received things like car care products, dish soap, bug spray and a half dozen other things. The stuff trickled in over time.

The second time, we made it to the final round. We didn’t make it to 200 points. We received $800 or something like that.

I highly recommend the experience of auditioning and participating in a television game show. It was a great family experience.


I won 500 bucks on a tv show where you bet you can do something special, and then do it. I used it to go to a magic convention abroad.


An old friend of mine was a contestant on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego on PBS waaay back in grade school. He won a trip to [somewhere with palm trees, I cant remember] for his family. Hardly life changing. Still kinda cool.


My grandma won a mirror on the Price is Right. It helped her put on makeup and see how she looked in clothes.


Holy shit a question I can answer!

I was on the show “The Substitute” on MTV. Haven’t heard of it? No surprise there, it sucked. I won $5000 on the show which was the grand prize, and on camera they handed me a briefcase full of money. The money was fake, though, and if anyone knows anything about money then they would realize the amount of cash in that briefcase would have been significantly more than 5000$. After recording finished they took the briefcase and fake money back and gave all the participants pizza and told us we would receive a check 1-2 months after the episode aired. The way this particular show worked I ended up splitting the $5000 with the other 19 contestants so we all got a check for $100 about four months later. Since the prize money was under $500 for each person none of us had to pay taxes on it.


When I was in first grade I correctly answered a question about dinosaurs on our local news station. I won a life time supply of meat from the local butcher. Every month my family got a styrofoam ice chest filled with steaks and sausages. This went on for a good 4 or 5 years until the butcher went out of business.

Edit: I forgot to mention that we also got a barbecue pit. Also we got a bag of charcoal with each ice chest of meat.

Edit 2: Getting messages that the contest prize is what put the butcher out of business. That’s not how it works. It’s not like the butcher gave it away for free. It was paid for by the sponsors of the contest.


I was on and won a Canadian kids game show called Uh-Oh (with quirky host and active redittor Wink Yahoo) in the 6th grade. In about half an hour’s time I had brown paint water dumped on me twice before nailing a couple speed rounds and taking home the crown. The prize came as advertised, a sweet Sony 3 CD stereo system which served as my alarm clock as well a tool for me to play drums along with my favourite albums for many years. It didn’t help my life necessarily, but what I did learn is that show biz ain’t that glamorous as after taping I saw Wink Yahoo noticeably distraught sucking back multiple darts at once 🙁


A friend of mine, her dad won literally everything on the price is right but ended up only choosing three prizes to keep because of the taxes (a car, a motorcycle and a vacation if I recall). He also had to sign something saying he wouldn’t appear on their show or a number of other shows for 10 years. Not sure if he was “banned” because he was so good or if that’s standard.


I was on Survivor Palau

other than being hungry all the time, the special service you get back at the “ponderosa” camp is amazing, margaritas, unlimited food, whatever you want basically


I won the Double Bubble Bubble Gum Bubble Blowing Contest at my local grocery store when I was 11 and I won a plaque, the bubble measure thing, and a big fat sack of Double Bubble Bubble Gum!


Won 1st place in a singing contest sponsored by a local radio station. Scored me $500 cash and bought a new guitar. I had the chance to go to the state fair and compete on a larger stage with a chance to win studio time and some more $, but declined as my talent ends at little old ladies in nursing homes and church and toddlers. They’re my core audience.


Not really a “game show” but for those who remember Bozo circus, I got to play the Grand Prize Game — every midwestern child’s dream.

How did it help my life? For every bucket you hit (out of 6) you get a bunch of toys/gifts. I think I got to bucket #4 or 5 (they’re much smaller in person) and we drove home with a car full of toys, games, and Bozo hotdogs.

As a child, it was pretty epic.

Edit: Thank you for the silver! It makes up for missing bucket #5 and 6 😉


Won $700 getting a question right on a radio call in show, my parents gave me $100 of it and kept the rest.

At the time I was annoyed, as an adult looking back it was because we were flat broke, $100 was an insane amount of money to a 12 year old in the 90’s, and the rest went to crazy things like “us being able to eat”. So overall not too bad.

Oh and when I was 20 I got to stand in a glass tube as a bunch of store vouchers for my local mall zoomed around me and anything I caught I kept. Shoved them all in my shirt and walked away with a few hundred worth.


Not a game show but I won a new truck through the GM/Onstar Hot button contest. Was there to fix their email and while waiting for them to finish lunch I won a truck. Had a car so didn’t need the truck. Sold it for $18,000, paid ~$4k in taxes, paid off $10k in debt and blew 4K on fun stuff. Was really nice. Giving my girlfriend $1000 to do what ever she wanted was really cool. Felt like a baller.


Price is Right showcase winner back in 1997. $35k in random stuff, kept the high end personalized sized golf clubs, sold the travel trailer, car, and the stove. Selling the items more than made up for the taxes, I’d say I walked away with $25k and a set of clubs. It was a nice little boost to my house down payment, avoided PMI.


I won about 25,000 after taxes. Paid for college. Who wants to be a millionaire. And yes, that’s my final answer.


I won a trip to Tahiti from a radio station. The trip was awesome.


I won $16,000 on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” After taxes it was around $10k. Having money in the bank was one factor that led to my becoming pregnant with twins 6 months later :).


I was on Who Wants to be a Millionaire in 2017 (taped 2016). My personal goal was to get to $50k and was fairly confident I could do it. Unfortunately, the audience was wrong at the $20k question and I dropped to $5k. I was really upset and waiting 9+ months before I could talk about it was incredibly tough. After taxes, I ended up with about $3,700 and used that to have a really fun time on a girls’ trip to Europe and also buy myself a fancy purse.


I won a 4 day ski trip to Steamboat, hotel stay, and concert tickets to Papa Roach from a local radio station. They called me in the morning and I was still sleeping. When they said I won, I responded with “holy s**t that’s awesome.” Some friends later said they beeped it out and the hosts had a good laugh.


I worked with a guy who won MTVs Remote Control. He got a Chevy Probe and some cash. Down side is that when his taxes hit he owed so much money that he had to quit school which is where I met him working at a comic books store.

Remember the government considers what you win very taxible.


A friend won a thousand dollars on a quiz show. It wasn’t life changing money but it definitely helped.

Took something like 9 weeks after the show was filmed for her to get the cash.


My grandma won a yellow 69 Camaro SS on Let’s Make a Deal.

They had to sell it so they could buy a station wagon.
My dad would tell me and my little brother that story and how broken-hearted Grandpa was every time we saw a yellow camaro.


From a radio contest so not technically a game show, but I won tickets to a Springsteen concert which included a bus ride to Detroit to see it. The best part was the Bob Seger showed up and played with the band too!


I was slimed on slime time live.

Won a razor scooter and a year subscription of nickelodeon magazine


My parents adopted me when I was a month old. Back in the early 80’s private adoption was expensive. A few months later they got called to be on the show “Fantasy”. Where it’s like make a wish for people who AREN’T dying. I think the show lasted a year or two. But seeing my parents on VHS in an air booth trying to grab paper money wearing aprons was so worth their humiliation.


I went to school with a kid who participated in a game show when he was younger.

In that game show there was always a boys and a girls team and the winning team would be allowed to go on a time limited shopping spree.

Well, anyways, his team supposedly lost and he was getting bullied for it by his classmates for the rest of his school life. Whenever he failed at something he would be reminded that it was just like the time he lost the game show and so on. I was two classes above the guy and even I knew he lost that game show without ever talking to him or his classmates. It was brutal.

There is no happy end or anything and he probably hated every second of school. The End.


I won the second episode ever of “elimidate”. I didn’t win anything except a second date with a Hawaiian tropic model.

Edit: was episode 8
Source: boredpanda.com

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