So many people dream of one day competing on a game show. Going on Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune seems like such a fun way to win a lot of money and test yourself. The problem is, how do you actually do it? It seems like one of those things that happens to other people but never to anyone you know.
The process of being on a game show is not as glamorous as you may have dreamed. Here are 16 secrets about the making of game shows that they don’t want you to know.
1. Anyone can take the online test to be on Jeopardy
There is an online test that has you answer 50 questions in 15 minutes. They don’t let you know how you did unless you get over their set percentage (rumor is 80-85) and then if you do you will be invited to an in-person audition.
2. Prize values tend to be inflated for effect
They tend to oversell items for effect but by doing so it will is actually making it worse for the winners because they will have to pay the taxes of the listed price. The contestants can try to argue for the real-market value in court but can take months to settle.
3. People will buy your prizes off you right after the show
Right after you leave the studio, there are apparently people who will offer you money for the stuff you just won. They however offer it at less than the inflated prices the game pretended it was worth but at least you won’t have to figure out how to get a year supply of Rice-A-Roni into your carry on.
4. The podiums for contestants are tricky
There is little adjustable platforms so everyone can be the same height. This will make the shooting a lot easier.
5. Taping the show is almost worse than jury duty.
When you are taping the show you are sequestered with your fellow contestants by network compliance officers who even follow you to the bathroom. You are not allowed to talk to audience member, the host or anyone. This is to prevent cheating but makes for a very long day.
6. They tape a weeks worth of shows PER DAY
Pat Sajak and Vanna White get little 15 minute breaks between shows so they can switch up their outfits and then they film some more.
7. You don’t always get the money right away.
Sure it looks like they hand the contestants a big wad of cash, but that is just for show. Instead they mail you a check after the fact.
8. And, they aren’t as surprised as they may seem
They are actually recruited to be on the show, it is all staged. They are often found at trivia nights and asked to be on the show.
9. The phone a friend option is kind of a huge deal.
You needed to have 5 different options of people who all had landlines and would be available for the entire day so it wouldn’t matter when your episode was filmed.
10. You CANNOT have a Plinko chip
Apparently there are only 10 in the world because they cost a lot to make. (Although I bet if Bob Barker asked for one they’d let him take one)
11. Even big shows like Jeopardy don’t pay for your stay
You don’t get any kind of compensation for your hotel or travel costs, so you better hope you win some money! At least even 2nd and 3rd prize get $2000 and $1000 respectively so there is something they can put towards flights.
12. Jeopardy will however do your makeup
They don’t want you to be shiny on camera so they will do your makeup. You do however have to do your own hair.
13. People get really angry at you whether you win or lose
People get REALLY invested in these games and will go after former contestants. After Ken Basin was on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and got the $1 million question wrong he says people were emailing him at his work address with comments like “Kill yourself, you’re an arrogant douche and you give lawyers a bad name.” That’s quite the reaction for people who get no benefit from him winning. A female contestant who was on Jeopardy shared that she receives a lot of creepy messages still over a year later of people making vulgar statements about her body and proposing marriage.
14. Certain contestants make a living out of playing game shows
Some contestants hop from game to game as long at the contracts they sign allow. Every once and a while they will need to take a year or two off between appearances but a lot of people have been on many different shows. It is tricky for new contestants to try to compete to make it in because the veterans are more comfortable with the audition process and have an easier time making it onto the show.
15. Things aren’t the same at filming as they are on TV.
The questions aren’t actually showing up on the screens for the contestants so they have to actually listen to Alex careful while keeping in mind the timing for the buzzer. Also they edit out any fumbles or challenges of wrong answers.
16. Producers are looking for specific people to fill the roles.
They want people who are excited, but not too excited that it seems fake. They also want you to look “TV-Ready” whatever that means and they want you to have some fun facts ready to go.