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10 True Game Show Cheating Scandals

Updated November 6, 2017 65.5k views10 items

Cheating at game shows is practically as old as game shows themselves - and it's not always done strictly by contestants. In fact, in the most despicable cases, the "cheating" was more a result of producers rigging the game in the search for money than of greedy people seeking to game the gaming system.

But hey, players gonna play and cheaters gonna cheat. It's just the way of the world, and game show cheats on either side of the line have been fairly common. Sometimes, their motives have even been altruistic. Here are a few of the more notable examples of game show cheating, of slick contestants and greed-frothing producers bending or breaking the rules of sportsman-like conduct for fun and profit.
  • 1

    Press Your Luck - Michael Larson

    Photo: CBS
    It's hard to say if this one is cheating or just a case of someone figuring out the system. In 1984, Michael Larson used his VCR to record episodes of Press Your Luck and figure out exactly when to hit the buzzer to win the biggest prizes on the "Big Board." After winning a massive 35 games in a row without fail, Landon racked up $110,000 in prizes. CBS tried to get out of paying Landon his winnings, but the network had to admit that he hadn't technically cheated."
  • 2

    Pasapalabra - Adriana Abenia

    Photo: Telecinco
    Pasapalabra is a Spanish quiz show featuring a segment akin to "Name That Tune." The lighthearted show regularly features celebrity guests, one of whom was a model named Adriana Abenia. Adriana did suspiciously well during this segment - owing the the fact that she had her cellphone hidden between her legs with the Shazam app on. Shazam identified each song the band played, and Adriana read off the answers. When she was found out, the audience laughed it off, the the host applauded her for her ingenious and brazen cheating. 
  • 3

    Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? - Charles Ingram

    Photo: 2waytraffic
    One of the better-known cheaters in modern game show history, UK Army Major Charles Ingram made history was one of very few people to win the full million-pound prize on the British show. Ingram conspired with two other people to win the money. One of them was audience member Tecwen Whittock, who would cough when Ingram pondered the correct answer out loud. Ingram was stripped of his winnings and Army rank, and criminally convicted of "procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception." 
  • 4

    Wheel of Fortune

    Photo: ABC
    Not all cheaters are contestants. In 2012, Wheel of Fortune made a go at cheating one Southern belle out of $1,400 on account of her accent. When Renee Durette pronounced "Seven Swans A-Swimming," she pronounced the last word "swimmin'," as you do, at least her her part of Florida. To the bafflement of all present, Pat Sajak pronounced Durette's answer incorrect. To her credit, Durette didn't hold a grudge against the show for cheating her out of her winnings, probably because of Southern hospitality.