1 prize is unknown Likely to keep with the “30” theme, this episode is moved up from its originally intended air date of the 31st. due to “Thursday night football” preemption.
Michelle Loewenstein was the first-ever winner of a prize greater than $1 million in the history of Wheel of Fortune. Even better, she won the coveted million dollar prize just after she returned home from her honeymoon, fresh off a marriage.
The final puzzle that she solved was “Leaky Faucet.” Michelle won the prize when this episode of Wheel of Fortune was filmed on August 8, 2008, or 08/08/08. Autumn graduated from the University of California, based out of San Diego, in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 2005.
Sarah Manchester won $1,000,000 like it was nothingness one year after Autumn Erhard placed the $1 million prize, Sarah Manchester, a match teacher based out of Silver Spring, Maryland, won yet another $1 million prize on Wheel of Fortune. She went on to win the prize during Wheel of Fortune’s “Teacher’s Week,” which consisted of the first 5 episodes of the show’s 32nd season.
In April 2016, to kick off the show’s upcoming season, contestants would be entered to win $100,000 by solving the game’s final puzzle. They all have individual names and placed with prizes ranging from $117,500 upwards of $140,350, but all of them walked away with a cool amount of change in their pocket.
He continued on to set a record with a one-letter hint, solving the puzzle “The Lone Ranger.” For his efforts, Matt won the final prize at $80,000, which brought him out to nearly $92,000 in winnings. The thrill of winning a lot of money Andy Travis is known for having appeared on multiple game shows, including Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Million-Second Quizes.
A game show is a type of radio, television, or internet program in which contestants, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering trivia questions or solving puzzles, usually for prizes. Game shows are usually distinguishable from reality television competition shows, in which the competition consumes an entire season of episodes; in a game show, prizes can typically be won in a single match (in some cases, particularly in the ones that offer record -setting prizes, contestants can play multiple matches and accumulate a larger total).
Beginning with the first five-figure and six-figure game show jackpots in the mid-1950s, a succession of contestants on various quiz shows of the era each set records. Teddy Nadler of The $64,000 Challenge, the highest-scoring contestant of the 1950s era, was not surpassed until 1980, when Them McKee won $312,700 on Tic-Tac-Dough.
Between 1999 and 2001, during a brief boom in high-stakes game shows, the record was broken six times. Both the 1955–1958 and 1999–2001 eras of rapidly set and broken records were driven primarily by one-upmanship between the networks each trying to secure bragging rights and ratings by inflating their prize offerings, rather than the merits of the contestants themselves.
Most daytime game show top prizes were limited to $25,000 during the 1960s and 1970s, a restriction made for both budgetary concerns and to assuage criticism that arose from the 1950s quiz show scandals. NBC, however, opted not to employ such a limit and allowed show producers to set them if they saw fit.
The single day record for shows in daytime television was set by Michael Larson in 1984, who won $110,237 (equivalent to $271,000 in 2019) on Press Your Luck. Larson achieved this record by memorizing the show's board patterns, repeatedly hitting the board's squares that awarded contestants money and an additional spin, which would, in turn, replace the spin he had just used, effectively allowing him to spin the board in the second round as long as he wanted.
Because of this, his game had to be split into two episodes (which aired June 8 and June 11), as his turn caused the game to go well over the show's half-hour allotted time. At the time of the show's airing, CBS only allowed contestants to win up to $50,000 on a game show (contestants would retire after winning $25,000); the winnings limit increased to $75,000 in November and $100,000 in 1986 (and later $125,000 by 1990) before being permanently eliminated in 2006.
In March 2003, Game Show Network produced a documentary about the event featuring Ed Long and Janie Litras-Dakan, the contestants Larson handily defeated in 1984. In 2006, Larson was succeeded by Vicky Chrobak-Sadowski, who set the record by winning $147,517 on the 35th season premiere of The Price Is Right, winning a Dodge Caravan playing Push Over “, $1,000 cash and both showcases.
In 2013, Chrobak-Sadowski was succeeded by Sheree Hal, who set the record by winning $170,345 on The Price Is Right “Best of 2013” special aired December 30, 2013, by winning an Audi R8 playing Gas Money “, $10,000 cash and Prada shoes. In 2016, Hal was succeeded by Christen Freeman, who set the record by winning $210,000 on October 28, during the show's “Big Money Week” special.
As Cliff Hangers was the episode's Big Money game, game rules were modified to offer a top prize of $250,000, which was reduced by $10,000 for every step the mountain climber took. In addition to her One Bid prize and an additional $1,000 won during the Showcase Showdown, Freeman's grand total was $212,879, setting a new daytime record.
The current single-day record holder is Michael Stouter, who won a total of $262,743 on the October 14, 2019, episode of The Price Is Right. Stouter's appearance occurred during a special “Big Money Week” promotion in which games normally played for standard prizes had increased values or special cash awards offered.
Stouter won a total of $202,000 during the game, plus his showcase and an accumulating jackpot of prizes (worth $29,657). As of 2021, his total is still not enough to surpass Larson's inflated winnings.
Twenty One host Jack Barry (center) with contestant Charles Van Dozen (right) and fellow contestant Vivienne Nearing (left) During the early quiz show boom of the mid-1950s, Richard Escutcheon set the first major winnings record by winning the title prize on The $64,000 Question on September 13, 1955, matched shortly thereafter by Joyce Brothers on December 3, despite producers attempting to give her questions they thought she could not answer. Ethel Park Richardson set the next winnings record of $100,000 on The Big Surprise on December 10.
Richardson's record would stand for more than a year, before being surpassed by Charles Van Dozen on January 21, 1957, who was playing Twenty One. Van Dozen, who won $129,000 total, was almost immediately passed by on February 10 by 11-year-old Leonard Ross.
Ross, through earlier winnings on The Big Surprise and a new appearance on The $64,000 Question, reached $164,000. Ross's total was surpassed by ten-year-old Robert Storm, on The $64,000 Question on April 16.
Storm would go on to win $242,600 in various game show appearances by mid-1958. Finally, Teddy Nadler collected winnings on The $64,000 Question and The $64,000 Challenge through 1957 and 1958 sufficient to eclipse Storm's winnings on August 24, 1958, on the way to $264,000 (equivalent to $2,339,000 in 2019).
Teddy Nadler's record would stand for more than two decades, because in the fall of 1958, allegations that many big-money quiz shows were fixed were corroborated; several of the programs under scrutiny were almost immediately cancelled. Herb Steel, who had won $69,500 on Twenty One, openly admitted that his defeat by Charles Van Dozen had been scripted.
Van Dozen, by comparison, insisted he had wanted to do the show honestly and refused to speak on the topic for decades afterward, until writing an essay on the subject for The New Yorker in 2008. Joyce Brothers's winnings, which added up to $128,000 after a follow-up win on The $64,000 Challenge, were ultimately upheld as legitimate, and she went on to a prolonged career as a psychologist and media personality.
Nadler, a middle-school dropout, failed a civil service exam trying to get a temporary job with the United States Census Bureau in 1960. His breadth of knowledge was never questioned; Nadler was not implicated for any role in the quiz show scandals.
These changes, which lasted decades, included the imposition of limits on future prize amounts, limits on the amount of times game champions could return, and a change in emphasis in most game shows away from “recall of factual knowledge” as the means to win. Imposed a five game limit on returning champions.
A reboot of Tic-Tac-Dough, which by 1980 was running in syndication, did allow its returning champion to play until defeated, and had no winnings cap. Naval officer named Them McKee began a winning streak on Tic TAC Dough that carried from the spring of 1980 into the 1980-1981 season.
McKee passed Nadler's record in taping recorded over the summer of that year as revealed in a leak to the press. McKee won $312,700 (equivalent to $970,000 in 2019) in cash and prizes in 43 games, which included eight cars (on Tic TAC Dough a contestant received a new car after every fifth game won).
McKee's record on Tic TAC Dough was not surpassed by another player, and this was in part because when a CBS owned-and-operated station in New York City purchased the right to air the syndicated Tic TAC Dough in 1983, the network realized that airing a game show without a winnings cap on a station it owned was a violation of its own Broadcast Standards and Practices. CBS requested of the produces of Tic TAC Dough that a winnings limit of $50,000 be imposed, and the show complied with this request.
While Them McKee was the biggest solo game show winner until 1999, nine couples on The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime shared the show's top prize of $1,000,000 awarded in a combination of prizes and a long-term annuity, during that show's run in syndication from January 1986 to May 1987. In 1999, McKee's winnings total was passed by Michael Sh utterly, who became the biggest winner in the first season of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in the United States.
In 1988, making his career winnings total $549,200. On November 19, during the second season of Millionaire in the United States, the show crowned its first million-dollar winner when John Carpenter won the show's top prize without using any lifelines, save for a phone call on the final question, which he used to inform his father that he was going to win the million dollars.
After Carpenter answered the final question, which concerned Richard Nixon's appearance on Laugh-In in 1968, host Aegis Phil bin proclaimed Carpenter the show's (and worldwide format's) first top-prize winner. Carpenter's record remained intact until the following year.
The ratings' success of Millionaire sparked a brief glut of high-stakes game shows from the other networks, each attempting to outdo the other. In early 2000, Rahim Oberholtzer, a contestant on the revival of NBC's Twenty One, won four games in his appearances on the show, along with $120,000 in the show's “Perfect 21” bonus round, for a total of $1,120,000.
For surpassing Carpenter's mark, then-host Mary Police proclaimed Oberholtzer “the TV Game Show King”. Late in its run, the Fox game show Greed brought back some of its previous winners to try for an extra $1,000,000.
Curtis Warren, who was part of the first team to win $1,000,000 on the show (of which his share was $400,000, plus $10,000 for winning a terminator round), was one of the contestants brought back to do so on February 11, 2000. Warren was given a question about TV shows that had been made into movies, with eight choices (of which he had to identify the four correct answers).
Warren's record was even shorter lived than Oberholtzer's had been, lasting only four days. Three days before Warren's win, David Leger, who also appeared on Twenty One, began a run as champion on the show.
Four days after Warren's win, the run continued, with Leger having earned a grand total of $1,765,000 in six wins to surpass Warren's record and become the third contestant in two months to top $1,000,000 on a game show. Leger held the record for well over a year, outlasting Twenty One and Greed themselves; by July 2000, the million-dollar game show boom had gone bust and both Greed and Twenty One (along with several others) were cancelled, leaving Millionaire as the last surviving million-dollar game show on American television from that boom; it would not be until April 2001 (with the arrival of the similarly short-lived Weakest Link) that another would be attempted.
By the start of 2001, the producers of Millionaire decided that it had been too long (71 episodes over a five-month period) since their top prize had been won and instituted an accumulating jackpot which added $10,000 to the grand prize amount for each episode it was not won. Kevin Olmstead claimed the top prize on April 10, 2001, winning a jackpot of $2,180,000.
Olmstead became the first contestant to top $2,000,000 in total winnings on a game show and supplanted Leger as the all-time leader. In 2004, ABC launched an ultra high-stakes version of Millionaire entitled with a $10,000,000 top prize.
Two separate Super Millionaire series aired, one in February and a second in May. However, despite the higher stakes and the potential for someone to top the all-time record for winnings, the largest prize awarded was $1,000,000, won by Robert Essie.
Million-dollar game shows continue to air, in somewhat lower frequency, into the present day, as several other game shows with prizes in excess of $1,000,000 (including Deal or No Deal) came and went. In 2008, Wheel of Fortune increased its top prize to $1,000,000, making it the second syndicated game show to have a top prize of that value, which to date, three contestants had claimed the big money.
For the 2003–04 season set the stage for a new generation of game show winnings records. For Season 20, the show eliminated its long-standing rule limiting a champion's consecutive wins to five.
Joined Tic TAC Dough from two decades earlier in allowing unlimited appearances by a returning champion on a quiz show. This set up the potential for winning streaks like those seen in the big-money 1950s quiz shows.
The episode was the first in a long winning streak for the software engineer first breaking Ryan's and Walsh's accomplishments. With no limit to his appearances, Jennings began to break many game show records.
As his streak continued deeper into the 21st season, Jennings was inching closer and closer to Olmstead's all-time record. On November 3, 2004, Jennings topped Olmstead's Millionaire winnings with his 65th consecutive win, finishing the day with $45,099 and a new cumulative total of $2,197,000 (equivalent to $2,974,000 in 2019).
On February 9, 2005, the show launched its Ultimate Tournament of Champions, inviting back 144 other past champions to compete over the next three months in a five-round single-elimination tournament with a $2,000,000 grand prize. The field included the highest-winning five-time champions and winners of some previous tournaments, though not all invitees were able to participate.
Jennings received a bye into the finals of the tournament, where he faced semi-final winners Jerome Hard and Brad Butter in a three-game, cumulative total match. Hard had set a single-day scoring record during his appearance on the show in 1992, while Butter had won the 2001 Tournament of Champions and the 2002 Million Dollar Masters tournament and was the show's highest-earning contestant of all-time before Jennings.
Appearances (five regular season games, a Tournament of Champions wins, the Million Dollar Masters win, and three matches in the earlier rounds of the Ultimate Tournament of Champions which were worth $115,000), Butter's total stood at $3,270,102, while Jennings was now second with $3,022,700 having gained an additional $500,000 for his second-place finish in the tournament. Jennings slowly began to chip away at Butter's record, first by winning $714.29 in 2006 as part of the Mob on NBC's 1 vs. 100.
he extended the record by winning $300,000 in The IBM Challenge, where he and Butter took on IBM supercomputer Watson in a special Jeopardy! Butter won $200,000 in the challenge, in which both he and Jennings pledged half of their winnings to charity.
Butter then added $100,000 more when he appeared on Million Dollar Mind Game, raising his total to $3,570,102, second only to Jennings's $3,923,414.29. NBC's The Million-Second Quiz artificially inflated its grand prize to allow for Andrew Travis, the winner of the ten-day tournament, to claim a record for most money won on a single game show in regular play.
Battle of the Decades, a tournament conducted by the producers of Jeopardy! Both men advanced to the two-day tournament final with Roger Craig (who had set the previous single-day winnings record of $77,000 in 2010) filling the third position.
Needing a win to reclaim his record, Butter took the top prize in the tournament after Jennings, who needed to answer the second day's Final Jeopardy clue correctly to win (after making a sufficient wager), failed to do so. Jennings appeared on Millionaire in November 2014 and won $100,000, missing out his opportunity to surpass Butter's record if he could have won the grand prize.
He was then a contestant on the ABC prime time show 500 Questions in 2016; however, as he only lasted four questions, he was unable to add to his total. Under the format of that tournament, teams of three competed in a relay to win a $1,000,000 top prize split between them.
The episode, which was broadcast on April 4, 2019, was the first in a 32-game winning streak where he joined Jennings and Butter as the only contestants in Jeopardy! Single-day winnings (on multiple occasions), pushing the record to $131,127 on the episode broadcast on April 17.
For The Greatest of All Time, a special multi-game prime time miniseries on ABC that carried a minimum $250,000 appearance fee and a $1,000,000 top prize. In the series of two-legged ties, in which the first to win three such ties won the competition, Jennings (3) defeated Holzhauer (1) and Butter (0), to win the top prize and reclaim the overall American game show earnings lead.
Rank Name Total winnings (in USD) Show(s) Notes 1 Ken Jennings $5,223,414 Jeopardy! All-Star Games as a portion of a $300,000 cash winnings split between Jennings and his teammates Monica Thieu and Matt Jackson.
IBM Challenge; and one-third of a $1,000,000 prize for winning the 2019 Jeopardy! All-Star Games, split between him and his Team Brad teammates David Madden and Larissa Kelly.
, $2,964,216 Holzhauer won $2,464,216 in his 33-episode run on the daily Jeopardy! In 2019, less than $59,000 short of matching Jennings' record for regular (non-tournament) winnings on that show, and won the 2019 Tournament of Champions' $250,000 grand prize.
Holzhauer had previously won $58,333.33 in 2014 on The Chase, one-third of a $175,000 jackpot split among his three-person team. The Chase, $58,333.33 4 Andrew Travis $2,656,550 The Million-Second Quiz, $2,600,000In the 2013 The Million-Second Quiz, Travis won $326,346 in the main competition as one of the top four finalists, then won a $2,000,000 grand prize.
The producers then deliberately rounded up Travis's total to $2,600,000 as a contrivance to ensure that Travis's total would break the record then held by Jennings. Following this win, Olmstead held the record as the biggest winner in American television for over three years until it was broken by Jennings.
After missing a question which was later revealed to be flawed, Tout ant was invited back to continue playing for the jackpot at the same level he was playing for during his original appearance. Tout ant was able to complete the remaining questions and win a jackpot of $1.86 million.
, $11,4017 Ashlee Register $1,795,000 Duel, $1,795,000 Register won $75,000 plus an accumulating $1,720,000 jackpot, giving her the record for most winnings by a female contestant on a game show in U.S. television history and the record for the most money won by an American who has only ever appeared on one game show. 8 David Leger $1,765,000 Twenty-One, $1,765,000 Leger won $1,765,000 over six wins on the 2000 revival of Twenty-One, making him the show's biggest winner.
9 Curtis Warren $1,546,988 Greed, $1,410,000 After Warren won $410,000 in late 1999 on Greed, he was one of four big winners invited back in early 2000 for the Million Dollar Moment, where he added a then- record -setting $1,000,000 prize to his total winnings on the show. Sale of the Century, $136,288 Win Ben Stein's Money, $700 10 John Carpenter $1,250,000 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, $1,250,000 Carpenter's winnings include $1,000,000 as first ever top prize winner on the show, and $250,000 in the champions' edition of the show.
For the purposes of this article, a game show is defined as a contest in which prizes can be won within a single episode through objective completion of tasks and not through fan or contestant votes. Thus, the $5,000,000 prize Melanie Amado and Tate Stevens both won on The X Factor and Sandra Diaz-Twine's and Tony Vlachos's two wins from Survivor are not included in this list.
To clarify, unless others stated, the winnings for teams with multiple players are divided equally. “Television review; Game-show flick uncovers Press mess”.
' Price Is Right' gives its biggest winner yet a $157,000 car”. “Woman wins $157,000 Audi R8 on The Price Is Right, becomes the biggest winner in show's history”.
Yahoo Inc. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. ^ “9 CBS Game Show Records That Will Make Your Head Spin”.
“Watson triumphs in Jeopardy's man vs. machine challenge”. “Champion Crowned on Finale of NBC's The Million-Second Quiz ".
Or did Chicago librarian Emma Botcher give him a run for the $250K prize?” Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
4022 (Andy Travis vs. Liana Walters vs. George Nelson)”. 348 (Curtis Warren vs. Steve Willis vs. Barbara Griffin)”.