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Top 10 Game Show Winners

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough These champs had the brains, opportunity and maybe a little bit of luck. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Game Show Winners. For this list, we're focusing specifically on those fortunate souls who hustled their way to game show victory, whether it was in a single day or over the course of several years. Special thanks to our user iKhan for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Game Show Winners


These champs had the brains, opportunity and maybe a little bit of luck. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Game Show Winners.

For this list, we’re focusing specifically on those fortunate souls who hustled their way to game show victory, whether it was in a single day or over the course of several years. We’re basing our choices on a mix of their winnings, how well they played the game and/or the story surrounding their triumphs.

#10: Adam Dutkiewicz
“The Price Is Right” (1972-)

He’s a rock star in his own right, but he elevated his epic-ness when he earned nearly 52 thousand dollars worth in prizes in 2015. In a last ditch effort to reach the stage, Adam Dutkiewicz nailed his bid while sporting a cheeseburger trucker’s hat and proceeded to nab a yellow Honda by playing the fabled “Money Game.” And thanks to a victorious spin on the legendary wheel, Adam reached the final showdown: the Showcase. Though his competitor offered up a respectable guess, it was the Killswitch Engage member who edged her out by a mere 101 dollars and unleashed a Seth Rogen-like growl before taking home the goods.

#9: Ashlee Register
“Duel” (2007-08)

The tension was high in late 2007, as a registered nurse named Ashlee Register engaged in a primetime duel against a used car salesman. Hosted by Mike Greenberg of ESPN fame, ABC’s game show aired the week before Christmas. When a botched question on crude oil unveiled the first winner, Register became the highest-winning female game show contestant ever, with close to a couple million dollars to her name. Ok, maybe it’s not the most memorable game show of all time, but “Duel” didn’t mess around with its grand prize, and there’s one rich nurse out there who can attest to that.

#8: Michael Larson
“Press Your Luck” (1983-86)

Well, here’s a man that had a few tricks up his sleeve and just might have watched the iconic CBS show once or twice. Look at him, all giggly and nervous. But what no one knew is that Michael Larson had memorized the patterns of the “Big Board,” which is clearly evident given his immediate celebrations. Spin after spin, Larson stunned host Peter Tomarken and the fellow contestants, and by the end, the bearded guru won over $110,000, the largest one-day earning in game show history up to that point. CBS was naturally suspicious, yet they couldn’t prove any wrongdoing, and Larson walked away with a mischievous grin.

#7: Andrew Kravis
“The Million Second Quiz” (2013)

Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, “The Million Second Quiz” made a ten-episode run in the late summer of 2013, which equated to - you guessed it - a literal million seconds. The superstar of this “Olympics of Quiz” proved to be Andrew Kravis, who owned the midtown Manhattan “Money Chair” and reached the season finale by earning point after point after point. By accumulating winnings all day, every day, Kravis earned the grand prize of just over two million dollars, only to find that NBC had upped the ante and made him the American master of game shows, at least when it comes to final earnings, which came to exactly 2.6 million dollars.

#6: Terry Kneiss
“The Price Is Right” (1972-)

Do your homework, Mojoholics, and by that, we mean that you must educate yourself about the costs of products on “The Price Is Right.” You just might become the next Terry Kneiss, who along with his wife, studied the CBS television show and was equipped with the proper knowledge to pinpoint the exact price of his final showcase display: $23,743. Hmm. Drew Carey looked as though he’d seen a puppy get hit by a car and quickly directed Kneiss to the proper authorities. But as it turns out, Terry knew his stuff, and it paid off.

#5: David Legler
“Twenty One” (2000)

The quiz show “Twenty One” was all the rage in the ‘50s, but for all of the wrong reasons as seen in the 1994 film “Quiz Show.” However, it emerged on NBC for a brief few months in 2000 and featured a slight alteration of the rules in which contestants could strike out of the competition. But the rules didn’t necessarily apply to David Legler, who, over the course of six episodes, won just over 1.7 million dollars, making him the top dog of game show winners, albeit temporarily. Not even big money and Maury Povich could save the doomed quiz show, but Legler earned his 15 seconds of fame and a cool mil.

#4: John Carpenter
“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (1999-2002)

“Are you ready for this?” He was a Rutgers-educated IRS agent and the last great game show contestant of the 20th century. It’s no easy feat to reach the final question without calling a pal, but John Carpenter managed to take care of business until a “Laugh-In” question forced him call up his pops. But the joke was on Regis and the audience, since Carpenter never had any doubt about his million-dollar answer and had simply called up Dad to tell him the good news. Harvard student Rahim Oberholtzer would later take home a bit more cash on “Twenty One,” but it was Carpenter who set the standard for what would become a classic game show franchise.

#3: Brad Rutter
“Jeopardy!” (1984-)

Remember when The Terminator was assigned to take out Sarah Connor? Well, this Pennsylvania man was so completely indestructible during his 19 appearances on “Jeopardy!” that it took an actual computer to take him down a couple of notches. Nobody has ever won more bread on “Jeopardy!,” and you know what? Nobody has ever won more dough over the course of their game show career either! Rutter made his debut back in 2000 and walked away a five-day champ, and he later won the 2001 Tournament of Champions, the 2002 Million Dollar Masters Tournament, the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions and even the 2014 Battle of the Decades. A trivia legend.

#2: Charles Van Doren
“Twenty-One” (1956-58)

To be an intellectual, one must conduct oneself in the most honorable of ways. Especially if you’re caught cheating on a nationally televised game show. No can deny that Charles Van Doren had a brilliant mind in the late ‘50s, but no one could have predicted that he’d face a Congressional Hearing for being complicit in the planned takedown of “Twenty One” extraordinaire Herb Stempel. The Columbia teacher admitted his wrongdoings as only an exposed intellectual could, but somehow he managed to move on from the experience and live a distinguished life beyond the realm of primetime TV.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Kevin Olmstead
“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (1999-2002)
- Laura Pearce
“Deal or No Deal” (2005-09)
- Ed Toutant
“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (1999-2002)
- Curtis Warren
“Greed” (1999-2000)
- Adam Rose
“The Price Is Right” (1972-)

#1: Ken Jennings
“Jeopardy!” (1984-)

It’s always a big deal when a game show contestant repeatedly destroys the competition or wins a million dollars with a few lucky guesses. In the digital age though, no other quiz show winner has made an imprint on the game show world quite like Ken Jennings. Born in America and raised in South Korea, he was a member of the BYU Quiz Bowl Team when he began an epic run of 74 consecutive victories in 2004, en route to over three million dollars in career earnings. Despite the unassuming demeanor, Jennings once made his feelings clear on “Live! with Regis and Kelly” appearance by noting that "Jeopardy! is a man's game... it's not like Millionaire.” Now that’s how a game show superstar rolls.

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite game show winner? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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