Hosting a game show is a dream job for many television personalities. It’s a sweet deal, and in comparison to hosting a challenging talk show or starring in a television sitcom or drama with gruelling hours, the largely ceremonial role of game show host is a walk in the park.
Drew Carey himself has famously said that hosting The Price is Right is a lot easier and less stressful than starring in a sitcom. Moreover, hosting a game show can pay a lot better. Of course, it takes a special kind of ‘people person’ to host a game show. A game show host must quickly develop a rapport with contestants while remaining entertaining to the audience at home.
Successful game shows can be quickly syndicated, which typically means huge payouts for the hosts of these programs. The following sixteen richest game show hosts of all time have successfully parlayed their skills into wildly lucrative careers, both as game show hosts and in other enterprising ventures.
16. Meredith Vieira: $30 million
Meredith Vieira’s vast wealth can be attributed to the numerous talk shows she has appeared on including The View and the Today Show, but she became even wealthier thanks to hosting the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. She hosted the challenging game show from 2002 to 2013, and won two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host.
Vieira was, in fact, a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire as well. She won $250,000 for the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund by participating in the celebrity edition of the primetime version of the show hosted by Regis Philbin.
15. Jeff Probst: $40 million
Survivor is perhaps one of the first extreme game shows out there, and it’s the reality show that helped launch Jeff Probst’s celebrity status from minor celebrity to super star.
Probst has hosted Survivor since the program launched in 2000, but this wasn’t the first game show that Probst hosted. He got his start hosting Rock and Roll Jeopardy on VH1, the music themed version of Jeopardy, between 1998 and 2001.
Probst has also worked as an entertainment correspondent for Access Hollywood, and he has won four Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program as host of Survivor.
14. Anne Robinson: $45 million
Anne Robinson’s shrill voice, patronising attitude and wicked insults captivated viewers when they watched the Weakest Link. Her proclamation of: “You are the weakest link, goodbye” when a contestant lost became a popular catchphrase in the early noughties.
The British television presenter and journalist earned the nickname “the Queen of Mean” thanks to her twelve year stint as host of the British version of the Weakest Link. She also hosted the primetime American version of the Weakest Link, which aired on NBC for one year. Robinson has earned much scorn for being a vocal supporter of fox hunting and even hosted a spinoff of the Weakest Link to raise funds for foxhunting, despite protests.
13. Pat Sajak: $45 million
Pat Sajak became known the world over as the host of Wheel of Fortune, and he still hosts the program today with the help of his lovely assistant Vanna White.
He took over hosting duties of Wheel of Fortune from Chuck Woolery in 1981. He attempted to host a late night talk show at one point; it proved unsuccessful, and the show only lasted for one year. His role as puzzle master on the game show has made him a cultural icon. Wheel of Fortune is the longest-running syndicated game show in the United States, and more then 6,000 episodes have aired.
12. Alex Trebek: $50 million
Seeing anybody other than Canadian treasure Alex Trebek host Jeopardy would just seem strange. It even seemed odd when the game show host decided to simply shave his legendary moustache.
Trebek got his start in the world of game shows by hosting the Wizard of Odds in 1973, and he hosted a number of other game shows including High Rollers, Double Dare, $128,000 Question, Battlestars, To Tell the Truth, Pitfall and Classic Concentration before, and at the same time as, hosting Jeopardy in 1984. Before he was a game show host he worked as a newscaster and sportscaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He even hosted an April Fool’s Day version of Wheel of Fortune.
11. Bob Barker: $70 million
Few game shows have become as iconic as the Price is Right, and the success of the program has a lot to do with Bob Barker, who hosted the program for a staggering 25 years.
He hosted The Price is Right between 1972 and 2007. Before hosting the legendary game show, Barker was the host of game show Truth and Consequences from 1956 to 1974. Barker would end each show by signing off and reminding viewers to spay and neuter their pets.
Barker remains a staunch animal right activist to this day. He hosted numerous Miss USA pageants and stepped down as host on moral grounds when organisers refused to remove fur prizes from the contests.
10. Howie Mandel: $80 million
Stand up comedians tend to make very good game show hosts, and Howie Mandel is a perfect example of this. Mandel hosted the popular game show Deal or No Deal, and his wit was a welcome addition to such a suspenseful game show.
Mandel hosted both the primetime and daytime versions of the American Deal or No Deal, and he said he was frustrated that contestants would hold out on the show because the prizes would often be worth much more than they make in a year. He currently serves as executive producer for a game show called Deal With It, which airs on TBS.
9. Regis Philbin: $90 million
Regis Philbin’s career in broadcasting is one of the most legendary of all time. He is still, perhaps, best known as a daytime talk show host. Philbin hosted Live! for an astonishing 23 years. First he hosted the program with Kathie Lee Gifford, and then he hosted with Kelly Ripa.
As host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, he made the game show one of the most popular of all time. Philbin also served as host of the game show Million Dollar Password, which is an updated version of the classic game show Password. His first game show gig was co-hosting the short-lived game show the Neighbors in 1975.
8. Steve Harvey: $100 million
Steve Harvey’s bank account is massive, thanks to his stand up career and his syndicated sitcom titled the Steve Harvey Show. His foray into the talk show circuit has also proven to be successful.
Harvey is not the first host of Family Feud, but he is one of the most successful hosts the show has ever seen. Ratings for Family Feud improved significantly when Harvey began hosting the show in September of 2010, and by November of 2012 Family Feud was the second most-watched daytime syndicated show in the United States. Harvey also served as guest host on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
7. Jeff Foxworthy: $100 Million
Jeff Foxworthy is not only one of the wealthiest stand up comedians of all time, but he is also one of the richest game show hosts of all time. As host of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, he showed the United States that today’s crop of middle school students were smarter than many adults in middle America.
Foxworthy hosted the primetime version of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and also hosted the syndicated version until its cancellation in 2011. More recently he hosted a Christian-themed game show on the Game Show Network called The American Bible Challenge.
6. Bob Saget: $100 million
Bob Saget hosted the short-lived game show 1 vs. 100 from 2006 to 2008. Saget earned his vast wealth as a stand up comedian, star of Full House and host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, but he was also paid handsomely for being the host of 1 vs. 100.
Although the show wasn’t nearly as successful as a number of other prime time game shows, Saget still took home a big paycheck as host of the show which aired on NBC at primetime. 1 vs. 100 still airs on the Game Show Network with Carrie Ann Inaba as the current host.
5. Drew Carey: $165 Million
Drew Carey has proven to be a worthy successor to Bob Barker on The Price is Right. His net worth has skyrocketed since he became host of the show, and he is currently worth $165 million.
Carey has even kept Barker’s famous sign off by reminding viewers to have their pets spayed and neutered. Carey began hosting game shows only recently. He hosted Power of 10, which ran from 2007 to 2008. CBS was impressed with Carey’s run on Power of 10, and he was quickly hired to replace Bob Barker on the Price is Right. Carey has hosted the Price is Right since the fall of 2007.
4. Dick Clark: $200 Million
The late Dick Clark did a fantastic job of bringing the celebrations in Times Square on New Year’s Eve into the homes of countless Americans over the years. He became a staple of the holiday. Dick Clark hosted Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve from 1974 to 2004. He would return to the program in 2006 after he suffered a stroke and continued to host segments of the New Year’s Eve special until his death.
Dick Clark was the first host of the $10,000 Pyramid, and he hosted the game show from 1973 to 1988. He began hosting game shows in 1963 with The Object Is…
3. Ryan Seacrest: $300 Million
Ryan Seacrest has hosted American Idol since the program began in 2002, and the program contributes significantly to his staggering net worth of $125 million.
He signed a deal for $45 million in 2009 to continue hosting the show, and in 2012 he signed a two-year deal to remain as host of American Idol worth $30 million. Earlier this year he renewed his contract yet again for one additional year with an option for another year.
Seacrest has hosted a number of other shows including the famous game show Gladiators 2000, which is a spin off of the game show American Gladiators.
2. Johnny Carson: $300 Million
The late Johnny Carson is best known as the former host of The Tonight Show, but before he became perhaps the greatest late night talk show host of all time he worked on a number of game shows including Earn Your Vacation and Who Do You Trust? He was also a guest panelist on the popular game show To Tell the Truth.
It was during his time as host of the game show Who Do You Trust? that Carson met his trusty sidekick Ed McMahon. The pair remained showbiz partners until the last episode of the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.
1. Merv Griffin: $1 Billion
The late Merv Griffin built a vast entertainment empire thanks to game shows. He started off as a game show host on programs such as Play Your Hunch and Keep Talking. Griffin was even a guest host on game shows such as The Price is Right and To Tell the Truth. He also created some of the most memorable and long lasting game shows in history.
Merv Griffin created Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Click, Ruckus and Merv Griffin’s Crosswords. Upon his retirement, Griffin sold his sold his production company, Merv Griffin Enterprises, to Columbia Pictures Television for a staggering $250 million.