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Top 10 Game Show Scandals

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Written by Briana Lawrence

As Adam Sandler once said: “The price is wrong, bitch!”. Join, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Game Show Scandals.

Special thanks to our users Andrew Warren and CommitOneMovieguy for suggesting this idea, check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Biggest+game+show+scandals.


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Written by Briana Lawrence

As Adam Sandler once said: “The price is wrong, bitch!”. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Game Show Scandals.

For this list, we’ll be looking at those shocking moments that may have tarnished our favorite wheel-spinning, puzzle-solving, and trivia-questioning programs. We’ll take “Game Show Scandals” for $200, Alex!

#10: The Perfect Bid
“The Price Is Right” (1972-)

Getting a perfect bid when trying to get on stage is hard enough, but getting a perfect bid during the Showcase? You’d have to be superhuman to do such a thing... or watch a lot of daytime television, which is exactly what Terry Kniess and his wife did. The couple studied “The Price Is Right” for months, picking up on its patterns, commonly featured items, and usual pricing. Even so, when Kniess took the stage for the final Showcase, he was absolutely shocked when his $23,743 bid was spot on... as was host Drew Carey and we assume every producer in the control room. In fact, the perfect bid was such a source of suspicion for the show’s producers, that Kniess’ opponent being within $500 on her own bid hardly seemed remarkable at all.

#9: Don’t Drop the “G”
“Wheel of Fortune” (1975-)

Who knew that pronunciation mattered so much – especially on “Wheel”? This was a hard lesson contestant Renee Durette learned in 2012. Following her enthusiastic cry of, “Seven Swans A-Swimmin’,” Renee, the audience, and the folks at home were surprised to hear Pat Sajak say that her answer was incorrect. Why? Because it’s swimming, not swimmin’. While it was obvious to anyone watching what Renee was saying, dropping that G cost her the round. And, despite the uproar on social media, the show stood by its decision. We guess we’ll be careful about dropping letters when we speak from now on.

#8: Misspelling Counts... Even for Kids
“Jeopardy!” (1964-)

“Wheel of Fortune” mighta been harsh on Renee, but you’d think a game show would go easy on a kid, right? Well, think again, Jeopardy!” fans. In 2013, Thomas Hurley III appeared on “Kid’s Jeopardy!” and, in the final round, answered the question correctly... except he spelled it wrong. This was counted as an incorrect answer, and social media went nuts over the decision. Some viewers felt that Alex Trebek had embarrassed the poor 12-year-old while others applauded the show for not giving credit to a misspelled answer. At least Thomas was able to bring some money home for his second place win.

#7: Not-So-Smooth Criminal
“Super Password” (1984-89)

Word of advice: if you’re on the run from the law, keep a low profile; do NOT go on a game show. In the ‘80s, Kerry Ketchum was wanted for insurance fraud, credit card fraud, and forgery. Surely, all he needed to do to elude the authorities was use a different name, right? Taking on the alias “Patrick Quinn”, he went on the show in 1988 and proceeded to win big... and was then promptly arrested when he went to pick up his money because a viewer at home recognized him and called the police. Oh, well, maybe he used the winnings to pay back his debts? No? He couldn’t keep the money because he won under false pretenses? Ouch.

#6: Which Came First: The Post-It or The Walkman?
“Million Dollar Money Drop” (2010-11)

When couples appear on game shows, networks are hoping for some relationship hijinks. And that’s exactly what this show got... in the worst way possible. Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayti were well on their way to $1,000,000 until the “which came first” question came up. After bickering, Okoye went with the Post-It, and the couple watched as $800,000 fell through a trap door because they got the... right answer? Though the show’s research team had checked with 3M, Post-It’s original parent company, a slight technicality meant their information was just plain wrong. Cue the social media outrage, the show offering to bring the couple back and then... cancellation.

#5: Modeling Woes
“The Price Is Right” (1972-)

Models and “The Price Is Right” go hand and hand... sometimes. It’s true that the beautiful ladies -- and men, from time to time -- have been a show staple for decades, but not every model’s well-crafted smile has been genuine. There are several stories of models suing the series for various reasons: sexual harassment, weight discrimination, being fired for getting pregnant... just to name a few. Most of these cases were settled, dropped, or appealed, but we can’t shake the feeling that there’s some tension behind the scenes between that first “come on down” to the final Showcase.

#4: That One Scandal Where Congress Stepped In
“Twenty One” (1956-58; 2000)

We live in a time where a show is accused of being fixed every other second. However, back in the 1950s, the news was so shocking that no one believed it when former contestant Herbert Stempel told all after his loss to Charles Van Doren. The fallout revealed that everything about the show - even Stempel’s image and backstory - had been set up and tinkered with by the producers. Meanwhile, the show was feeding answers to the contestants, and pre-deciding the show’s outcome. When it was all said and done, Congress had to step in and amend the Communications Act to declare fixing quiz shows illegal.

#3: Coughing to Victory
“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” [UK] (1998-2014)

So fixing shows is illegal, but no one said anything about coughing, right? In 2001, Charles Ingram implemented a “brilliant” idea: what if he read the answers out loud and had his wife and friend cough when he said the right one? Unlike shows like “The Price is Right,” audience participation -- unless you use that lifeline -- isn’t part of the game. Ingram had to give back the million he won, pay a fine of 15,000 pounds, and consider giving his loved ones cough drops if ever he appeared on a game show again. Worse still, as a result of the scam, Ingram was dismissed from his job as a Major in the British Army.

#2: No Whammies Lead to Life Whammies
“Press Your Luck” (1983-86)

After recording episodes and studying the pattern of the board, Mike Larson appeared on “Press Your Luck” in 1984 and completely annihilated the competition by taking home over $100,000. Since it technically wasn’t cheating, Larson was free to keep his winnings. Unfortunately, not everyone knows what to do with that much money: his missteps included making a sizeable withdrawal to take part in a radio game show, having $50,000 stolen from his home, and later taking part in a scheme involving a foreign lottery. His participation in the scheme put him on the run from authorities until his untimely death in 1999... the whammies of life hit Larson hard.

Before we go into the final round, let’s take a break for these honorable mentions:

- Answers From... Down There
“Pasapalabra” (2000-)

- There’s No “Ton” in Wimbledon
“Jeopardy!” (1964-)

#1: The Dating Game Serial Killer
“The Dating Game” (1965-99)

Rodney Alcala appeared as Bachelor #1 on “The Dating Game” in 1978 and managed to charm his way through the show to win the date. Cheryl Bradshaw didn’t end up going through with it, and she probably thanks all the higher powers she can for her decision. It turns out that Alcala had a terrifying criminal history involving multiple murders, kidnapping, and rape, with his victims ranging from adult women to young girls. If we learn nothing else from this list, it’s the importance of doing extensive background checks on your contestants. They could be cheaters. They could be frauds. They could be Rodney Alcala.

Do you agree with our list? Which game show moment do you think is the most scandalous? For more top ten lists published everyday, be sure to “Come On Down” and subscribe to

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