Five Major Cheating Scandals in Game Show History

Game shows can involve a fair amount of money. Furthermore, game shows are seen by millions and millions of people, meaning that said individuals have plenty of changes to see how they are supposed to run for potential vulnerabilities. As a result, it is no wonder that there have been a lot of people seeking to cheat game shows one way or the other. Most of these efforts fall flat at the start. However, there have been cases in which people succeeded before meeting their comeuppance in one way or another. Here are five of the most notable cheating scandals that have ever happened on game shows:

1. Shocking Reveal Brings Down Game Shows

At one point in time, Congress had to actually amend a piece of legislation for the purpose of forbidding game shows to be rigged. Something that was necessary because it turned out that a lot of the game shows of the 1950s were rigged for maximum ratings rather than anything remotely resembling reality. Everything came to light when a competitor named Herb Stempel revealed that another competitor named Charles Van Doren had managed to win Quiz Show for three months straight because he had been fed the answers beforehand.

2. Michael Larson Memorizes the Game-board Pattern

In 1984, a man named Michael Larson managed to win what amounted to $254,000’s worth of money as well as other prizes by playing Press Your Luck. He was able to do so well because he had used his VCR to record episodes of the game show before using those recordings to memorize the pattern used by the game show’s game-board. With that said, Larson couldn’t have succeeded without what was remarkably shoddy programming on the game show’s part, as shown by the fact that the randomizer offered no more than five patterns. Technically, Larson wasn’t cheating, which is why he walked away with his earnings. However, pride goes before a fall, which is why he had to eventually go on the run because he got involved in another get-rich scheme.

3. Jeopardy! Cheats Boy

Sometimes, it is the game show that cheats the player rather than the other way around. In short, Jeopardy! is famous for running special episodes featuring special contestants from time to time. On one such occasion in 2013, it saw kids including a boy named Thomas Hurley competing for the prize. Unfortunately, while Hurley got the answer right for the final question, he was judged to have gotten it wrong because he had misspelled the Emancipation Proclamation. As a result, he went home with no more than $2,000, which should have been much more because it was very clear what his answer had been, seeing as how he had misspelled the Emancipation Proclamation by no more than a couple of letters. Naturally, there was a fair amount of vitriol directed at Jeopardy!, though it is unfortunate to note that a lot of it was aimed at Alex Trebek, who isn’t actually responsible for judging answers.

4. Million Dollar Money Drop Cheats Couple

For another example of a game show cheating the competitors rather than the other way around, there was the story of a couple named Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayti on Million Dollar Money Drop. This time, they were asked which product out of three had been launched first, with them going for Post-It Notes. Unfortunately, this was both right and not right because while it had been the first product out of the three to be launched, it can be interpreted that it wasn’t the first because it had a name change that put it later than one of the other options. Suffice to say that there was a fair amount of viewer outrage in this case as well.

5. Former Major Cheats “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

In 2001, a former major in the British Army named Charles Ingram managed to make history for less than admirable reasons by cheating Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? out of the titular million. With that said, it wasn’t long before people noticed that he had cheated by getting his wife as well as another accomplice to cough whenever he read the right answers aloud. As a result, he winded up being stripped of his winnings as well as convicted of fraud, though there wasn’t much solace considering that the investigation to prove his fraud actually ended up costing more than what he had won.


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