20 Game Show Contestants Are Spilling The Beans On Their Winning Experience

Published 11 months ago

For years people have been taking part in game shows hoping to win the grand prize. As viewers, we avidly watch rooting for our favourites, empathising with their sob stories and hoping they win so they can turn their lives around. But what actually happens behind the scenes to these winners? Do they in fact get the prize money? 

We’ve heard that heavy taxes are imposed on most winnings, so you’re not actually entitled to walk away with the full amount you won. However, what other hidden downsides could there be to winning big money through game shows? Or is it all fun and games thereafter? Former contestants revealed everything in an online discussion and we’ve shared the most interesting stories below. 

More info: Reddit 1 | Reddit 2 | Reddit 3

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Image source: hrmhrh, Paul Hudson

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.


Image source: GreenLigh, olia danilevich

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 source: whiskeyalfredo, Nguyễn Thanh Ngọc

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.


Image source: ChickenMathisReal, cottonbro studio

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 source: lavenderincense, Hector Alejandro

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.


Image source: anon, ABC Television

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.


Image source: championofadventure, JohnsonL623

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.


Image source: froglover215, Karolina Grabowska

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.


Image source: radioflyerrr, Brady Knoll

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.


Image source: SaMoSetter, Kindel Media

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.


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.

Image source: Mocavius


Image source: EmpireofAzad, Neon Tommy

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.


Image source: Smoky-The-Beer, Kampus Production

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


Image source: nawkles, Matthew Barra

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


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!

Image source: FITGuard


Image source: c3h8pro, Sörn

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 source: Fluxmuster, Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau

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.


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

Image source: unamusedbouche7


Image source: greengiantsbaby, Rental Realities

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


Image source: MandrewCarrion, David Gomes

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.

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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game show winners, game shows, money, radio shows, tv shows, win money, winners
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