Game shows are by no means easy to participate in. The tasks that contestants on them are made to accomplish are terribly rattling, and worse, participants also have to bear with the pressure of performing before the judging eyes of an audience. Despite those obstacles, however, hundreds of contestants have ended up taking home millions in cash from their participation in game shows. Brad Rutter, for example, won over $4.5 million from his appearances on Jeopardy! and Million Dollar Mind Game to make him the biggest game show winner in history.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are those contestants who caused themselves considerable embarrassment from their bloopers on game shows. And we’re not referring only to players who weren’t able to take home any prize money — some contestants actually managed win impressive amounts on the shows they appeared in, and yet, they still effectively earned the public’s ridicule.
With the purpose of acknowledging the frailty of the human being rather than attempting to shame the contestants involved, let’s recall ten of the most disastrous fails we’ve ever seen on game shows:
10. Beary Hopeless / Family Feud
From 1976 to 1985, Richard Dawson hosted Family Feud, and the show went on to become one of the longest-running and most highly rated game shows of all time. What audiences enjoyed and still enjoy about the show is its “survey says” format, which has contestants guessing what the most popular answers are to questions asked of one hundred people. To begin each round of play, a member from each team races to give the most commonly provided response to a survey question, and in the rush, contestants occasionally supply the most ridiculous answers.
What happens to the gentleman in the clip above is a prime example of the silliness that can result from panic — it’s obvious that he knows his answer is awful, but since it’s too late, he has to blurt it out anyway.
9. An Immoral Pleasure Seeker / Jeopardy!
It’s a mystery, really, what exactly about Jeopardy! has made it the stunning success that it is. When we whittle down the program to its basics, it’s really just a trivia show — the only special gimmick being that the questions and answers are reversed in terms of format. Nevertheless, from its beginnings in 1964, Jeopardy! has always been an audience drawer with the version that began in 1984 being the most successful incarnation. What makes the show’s enjoyability even more mystifying is that it’s mostly a very serious program. In fact, audiences will be hard-pressed to recall particularly funny moments from Jeopardy!. But there are a few on occasion. And ironically, probably the funniest one is brought to us by Ken Jennings, the contestant with the all-time longest win streak on the show.
In the video above, Jennings provides quite a creative question for the answer, “This term for a long-handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker.”
8. A Bird With an Ink Sac / Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Who wants to be a millionaire? Everyone. Except billionaires, that is. And it’s exactly that dream of the common man to acquire instant wealth that is a big part of what has kept the originally UK-based show on television since 1998. In fact, the program is the most internationally popular television show of all time having been aired in more than 100 countries — quite a stunner, really, since the concept of the show is brilliantly simple.
After contestants are whittled down to one, the “Hot Seat” participant earns the chance to win increasing amounts of money (a million, usually being the largest) by correctly answering a series of multiple choice questions. However, the game ends when an incorrect response is given or the contestant opts to quit. For buildup purposes though, the first few questions are often quite elementary, one of the choices given often being a giveaway wrong answer. Unfortunately, in the case of Lovi Yu, a contestant on the American version of the show, the first question wasn’t such a simple hurdle to overcome.
7. Richard Dawson Cracks Up / Family Feud
The late Richard Dawson, host of the Family Feud from 1976 to 1985 and 1994 to 1995, was always known as a warm presenter, who (in)famously kissed all of the female contestants for love and luck as his mother had done to him when he was a child. Despite the lighthearted nature of his hosting, however, Dawson always managed to keep his composure and get through his job with only a few hiccups. In 1980 though, the “Trejo vs. Tunstall” episode allowed us to witness a Richard Dawson who could hardly keep himself together. The show’s final segment features the Trejo family participating in the bonus round with hilarious results.
6. Million Dollar “Achillus Heel” / Wheel of Fortune
Despite featuring a mere variation of the typical “Hangman” game, Wheel of Fortune has successfully endured to this day since its beginnings in 1975. That run has made it the longest-running syndicated game show in America with its over 6,000 episodes, not counting its international adaptations.
Later versions of the show feature the million dollar wedge, which, if the puzzle is successfully solved, earns a contestant the opportunity to play the bonus round for $1,000,000. In 2014, college freshman Julian Batts of Indiana University actually had the wedge in his hands and even managed to uncover all of the letter tiles in the puzzle. All he had to do was read out the answer. But…
And then there was the puzzle “THE WORLD’S FASTEST _ A _ “, which if he had solved would have given him a chance to take home a car. Lastly, he also delivered an amazingly strange guess for the puzzle “_ N – TH _ – SP _ T D _ C _ S _ _ N”.
Batts’s bloopers have caused him to be labeled “The Worst ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestant Ever”, but he actually ended up winning the show and pocketing $11,700. He has responded to the unkind label he had earned by saying, “They have their opinions. But at the end of the day, look at the end result. I won the show. I was the champion of the episode. Despite what happened in between, if you look what happened, I still won.”
5. Wrong in More than One Way / Family Feud
In 2010, comedian Steve Harvey took over the hosting duties for Family Feud and significantly improved the show’s ratings by bringing a light-hearted and witty feel to the program. However, despite how genial he usually is with participants, a response given by a lady contestant actually caused Harvey to half-jokingly yell, “You shut up, lady!”
It happened during a face-off between two women in a 2013 episode. A contestant named Christie buzzed in first to provide an answer for “Name something you know about zombies.” Christie’s answer was ridiculous as is, but it was even more inappropriate given who the host was and the opposing family were.
4. Apparently, Clearly Not / Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?
Kellie Pickler came to fame when she participated in and ended up sixth on the fifth season of American Idol. Capitalizing on her chance, she released four successful albums and won the sixteenth season of Dancing with the Stars. In between all of that, in 2007, she appeared on the celebrity edition of Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, her winnings donated to the charities of her choice. We suspect, however, that Kellie would rather forget about the comments she made while trying to answer the 3rd grade World Geography question “Budapest is the capital of what European country?”
3. It Runs in the Family / Family Feud
The York family was actually quite successful on Family Feud as they managed to win the show and play in the bonus round. There, as other winning families are tasked to do, they rattled off quick guesses on the most popular answers to particular survey questions. More specifically, Bob Jr. and Bob Sr. were dealt the following items: (1) Name an animal with three letters in its name. (2) Something found in the refrigerator. (3) A brand of gasoline. (4) Something that comes with a summer storm. (5) A sport with an all-star game.
Some of the responses provided by the father-and-son pairing are unbelievable.
2. Eklusike Nightclub? / Wheel of Fortune
On May 18, 2006, Wheel of Fortune aired one of its “College Week” episodes. One of the contestants on that show was Casey, then a junior at the United States Air Force Academy. Unfortunately for her, she ended up going home empty-handed despite hitting the $10,000 wedge. Why that happened won’t be so much of a mystery after viewing the clip.
1. Contestant Exhausts Bob Barker / The Price Is Right
In a 2006 episode of The Price is Right, contestant Joy took home a toaster, a luggage collection, and a brand new car after playing the game “Ten Chances”. Her task was to shuffle given numbers to guess the prices of the items. Actually, while the instructions were really quite simple, the game was by no means easy to win. But Joy fortunately ended up taking home all of the prizes.
So why is she on this countdown? Well, Joy ended up exhausting the indefatigable Bob Barker to the point that he had to sit on the floor right after the game. Find out why Bob was so flabbergasted by the segment in the video above.