Real Contestants Describe Game Show Experiences

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Vote up the most fascinating anecdotes from contestants of famous TV game shows.

People who have actually been on game shows return from the experience with plenty of memories and secret, behind-the-scenes information. Whether it's some detail of a famous set (like how big the Wheel of Fortune seems when you're standing right next to it), or a close encounter with a beloved host (was Alex Trebek really as nice as he seemed?), the anecdotes and recollections of former contestants provide new insights into this peculiar TV genre.

Read on to get the inside scoop on shows like Jeopardy!, The Price Is Right, Let's Make a Deal, and more.

  • 1
    1,900 VOTES

    Nobody On The ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ Crew Had Any Idea What The Questions Would Be

    From Redditor u/not_a_Tony:

    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 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 talk out your answer and listen to the audience 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. They 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.

    1,900 votes
  • 2
    1,322 VOTES

    The Money They Won On 'Millionaire' Actually Changed Their Life

    From Redditor u/lavenderincense:

    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.

    1,322 votes
  • From Redditor u/wingnutzero:

    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.

    2,305 votes
  • ‘Total Wipeout’ Was So Tough A Vet Said He’d Rather Reenlist Than Do It Again
    Photo: BBC One

    From Redditor u/leeisawesome:

    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 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."

    2,048 votes
  • From Redditor u/GaryTheBruce:

    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 game play, 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.

    1,778 votes
  • From Redditor u/Toastwaver:

    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.

    2,181 votes