25 Biggest Game Show Scandals In TV History

Posted by , Updated on November 21, 2022

Have you ever wondered what the biggest game show scandals in history were? At one point, even Congress got involved in order to prevent cheating and scandals in the TV industry! Whether it’s beating the system to win money or the game shows just trying to get viewers, these are 25 Biggest Game Show Scandals In TV History!


Deal or No Deal

iphoneSource: cnn.com

In 2008, Michael and Michele Hardin brought a case against the game show to the Georgia Supreme Court. They claimed that since the show violated anti-gambling laws, they should get back the money they had spent on text messages. (You can send texts to the show for a chance to win.)


Disney vs Celador

who wants to be a millionaireSource: cbsnews.com

In 2010, a federal court awarded Celador (the company that created Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) $270 million. Why? Because apparently Disney was hiding the fact that they were making quite a bit of money off the show because they didn’t want to pay the royalties.


Terry Kniess

the price is rightSource: telegraph.co.uk

When Terry guessed the exact price of a showcase of items ($23,743), Drew Carey was really surprised. It was the first time in 38 years that anybody had gotten the price exactly on the money. Following the show, there were number of conspiracy theories but no shady business was ever proven. Apparently Terry is a really good guesser.


John Cooper

bulls eyeSource: bbc.com

An active serial killer, John appeared on the TV show Bullseye in the middle of one of his killing sprees. The footage from the show actually helped put him behind bars.


Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?

moneySource: foxnews.com

In 2000, Fox released its new TV show about 50 women competing to marry an unseen multi-millionaire. Eventually, Darva Conger won and was married to mystery man Rick Rockwell. The show was quickly decried as misogynistic and demeaning to women. The controversy didn’t end there though. Rick was soon exposed to actually be quite poor and living in a run down house. He had changed his last name and apparently even had a restraining order against him by his previous girlfriend. Needless to say, Darva promptly filed for divorce.


Newlywed Game

weddingSource: washingtonpost.com

Known for its dirty jokes and innuendo, Bob Eubanks got in trouble several times for tasteless jokes that were aired on the show. Of course, humor changes over time; what was unacceptable back then might draw a different response today.


Charles Ingram

Charles IngramSource: bbc.com

In 2001, he tried to cheat the system on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Whenever he read out the possible answers his wife and another friend would cough if it was the right one. He was eventually convicted of fraud.


Are You Hot?: The Search for America's Sexiest People

failSource: theguardian.com

ABC’s TV show was supposed to be a television version of the popular website hotornot.com. Judges would rate contestants on how hot they were. Not surprisingly, this show was found to be rather tasteless by the public and flopped big time.


Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayti

post it notesSource: nytimes.com

On the first episode of Million Dollar Money Drop this couple lost out on $800,000 when they incorrectly said that Post-It notes were sold before Sony Walkmans. After the show, however, fans pointed out that Post-It notes had actually launched in 1977 under the name Press ‘n Peel. The name was changed to Post-It in 1980. Furthermore, Walkmans were first sold in Japan in 1979 and the US in 1980. In the end, the show’s producers decided to give the couple another shot. Unfortunately, however, the show got canceled before they could come back on.


Renee Durette

swanSource: cbsnews.com

When she was on Wheel of Fortune, she lost money for saying “Seven Swans A Swimmin” instead of “Seven Swans A Swimming.” Apparently, she hadn’t pronounced the final “g”. This caused an uproar online when people accused Wheel of Fortune for discriminating against southern accents.


Bob Barker

Bob BarkerSource: nytimes.com

The former host of The Price Is Right had quite a few lawsuits on his hands for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. They were all settled out of court, but not before tainting The Bob’s image.


Michael Larson

Michael LarsonSource: latimes.com

In 1984, Michael walked away with more than $100,000 from gameshow “Press Your Luck.” Apparently, he had realized that there was a pattern to how the TV show’s game board functioned. By recording the show on his VCR (high tech for the time) and memorizing the patterns, he managed to walk away a wealthy man.


The Gong Show

The Gong ShowSource: cnn.com

This amateur talent show, aired by NBC, was cancelled in 1980 because apparently NBC’s executives didn’t “get its humor.” Its creator, Chuck Barris, was slightly upset with the decision; on the last episode, he showed up as a contestant instead of a host. He sang the song “Take This Job and Shove It” and then flicked off the camera. Needless to say, this caused some controversy for the TV station.


Rodney Alcala

rodney alcalaSource: nytimes.com

The American version of John Cooper, Rodney was a serial killer who appeared on The Dating Game in the middle of his killing spree. Although Rodney won the game show, the “bachelorette” Cheryl Bradshaw refused to go out with him because she found him to be creepy.



Eric EstradaSource: telegraph.co.uk

In 1997, when Eric Estrada got one of the questions right on this gameshow, he raised his fist in victory. Unfortunately for fellow contestant Bill Maher, Eric’s fist found its way right into his face. Now that’s a scandal!


Jeopardy (kids version)

emancipation proclamationSource: latimes.com

In 2013, both Jeopardy and host Alex Trebek took a lot of fire from fans. Contestant Thomas Hurley lost points for misspelling Emancipation Proclamation; he added an extra “t” in Emancipation. Apparently, points aren’t normally docked for misspellings, and if they are, the misspelling has to be particularly big. So yeah, people got mad.



WimbledonSource: cbsnews.com

In 2012, Jeopardy contestant Reid Rogers answered a question correctly with Wimbledon. At first, his answer was accepted, but almost immediately he lost money for mispronouncing it. Apparently he had said Wimble-TON rather than Wimble-DON. The pettiness upset a number of viewers.


1950 Game Show Scandal

1950 Game Show ScandalSource: npr.org

To make a long story short, it emerged that almost every single game show was scripted. This caused a huge uproar and even led to Congress stepping in and amending the Communications Act to prevent further game show scripting.


Spelling Bee

spelling beeSource: bbc.com

As the first game show ever broadcast, this BBC program premiered on May 14, 1938. Although there was a lot of hype, the program totally flopped and left everybody from advertisers to viewers severely disappointed. One columnist even recently wrote, “One of the few happy consequences of the Second World War was that it took Spelling Bee off air, making the world safe for more sophisticated entertainment.”


Khaled El-Katateny

SydneySource: dailymail.co.uk

When he was a contestant on the Australian game show Millionaire Hot-Seat, he managed to correctly guess all the answers by watching the reactions of the host and the crowd. At least that was his explanation. It’s not quite clear whether or not the game show producers believed him.


Patrick Quinn

insuranceSource: cnn.com

In 1988, Patrick went on the game show Super Password and won $58,000. Except his name wasn’t Patrick. He was actually Kerry Dee Ketchum, who was wanted in three states. Apparently, he had faked his wife’s death for insurance money. Going on national TV probably wasn’t the smartest move!


Our Little Genius

answersSource: cbsnews.com

In what some people called a flashback to the scandal of the 1950’s, in 2010 the FCC began investigating whether contestants on the Fox game show Our Little Genius were receiving answers beforehand.



shazamSource: cnn.com

Pasapalabra is a Spanish game show that features a segment where contestants have to name a song. When celebrity Adriana Abenia was on the show, she held her phone between her legs with Shazam running and just read the answers off the app. When her tactic was discovered, the audience laughed it off and the host even commended her ingenuity.


The Match Game

The Match GameSource: foxnews.com

One night, Gene Rayburn, the host of this slightly suggestive 70’s game show was trying to compliment one of the contestants. While he intended to tell her she had “pretty dimples,” he let out quite the Freudian slip. It was a hard to mistake to live down.



passwordSource: abcnews.go.com

A couple on the show Million Dollar Money Drop sued Fox for asking trick questions. Back in 2010, the host, Kevin Pollack, had asked Andrew and Patricia Murray what the most common password is. They responded “password.” Much to everyone’s surprise, they were told it was actually 123456. After doing some research, they found out that the game show had gotten the answer from a questionable source. They sued for half a million dollars.

Photos: Feature Image: RoniLaren via flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0, 25. pixabay (public domain), 24. Anonymous user screen-named “dfan09”, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire – Play It! Sound Stage after 2004 closure, CC BY-SA 2.0, 23. Wikimedia commons (public domain), 22. Max Pixel (public domain), 21. pixabay (public domain), 20. Jeff Belmonte via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 19. Wikimedia commons (public domain), 18. Jeff Djevdet via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 17-16. pixabay (public domain), 15. Iaksge at English Wikipedia, Bob Barker at WWE crop, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 14-10. Wikimedia commons (public domain), 9. pixabay (public domain), 8. Wikimedia commons (public domain),  7. shutterstock, 6. pixabay (public domain), 5. pictures of money via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 4. pixabay (public domain), 3. Katyuna69, Shazam Logo, CC BY-SA 4.0 , 2. Wikimedia commons (public domain), 1. pixabay (public domain)