5 Game Show Beefs for the Hall of Shame

Who thought a simple trivia question could destroy someone’s sanity?
5 Game Show Beefs for the Hall of Shame

Winning an absurd, life-changing amount of money through a glamorized version of a board game is a daydream that many of us enjoy. The applause, the confetti, the big hugs from family and friends as we victoriously turn away from some sort of Final Showdown. A brisk handshake and back clap from a host as we’re already pre-spending our jackpot winnings in our mind. Unfortunately, even getting on a game show, much less winning, is something that a lot of people won’t be lucky enough to experience.

Of course, even more devastating is getting that rare chance to pay off a good chunk of your mortgage or take an extended vacation based on a bit of otherwise useless knowledge, and ending up going home empty-handed. Combine a whole lot of money with the fear of looking like an absolute idiot on national television, and nerves are understandably frayed. But there are still some bag fumbles that are so tragically magnificent, they have to be appreciated.

One of Jeopardy’s Worst Ever Wagers

This one is incredibly recent, airing only a couple days ago. And while it might not be as obvious of a blunder as blanking on what type of animal has an ink sac, when you work out why it was such a mistake, it’s all the more devastating. We can’t completely fault the contestant, as Jeopardy! in particular must be an absolute brain-frying experience, and when you’re pulling obscure facts from every fold of your brain, it’s tough to do some quick math on the board. Had Karen done some brief addition, though, she would certainly have made a different wager.

You see, after she finds the second Daily Double, which allows contestants to wager any amount of money they’d like in order to double it, there is only $3,200 in potential answers left on the board. Karen is sitting at $21,800, and the closest competitor is Melissa, at $7,100. Meaning that once Karen had found the Daily Double, all she had to do to win was nothing. Even if Melissa ran the board, which was unlikely, that would only take her to $10,300, and a full spend on Final Jeopardy with a correct answer would still only get her to $20,600. Karen merely needed to bet $0 on the Daily Double, and $0 again on Final Jeopardy, and she wouldn’t need to touch her buzzer again to guarantee victory. Instead, she bet $10,000, got the question wrong and subsequently lost the episode.

Sure, you could say she wanted to win more money, but given Jeopardy!’s relatively rare practice of winners continuing to compete on subsequent episodes, it’s a hard value proposition that it would be worth more than a return ticket. Not knowing what kind of run she could have had is all the more heartbreaking.

World’s Worst Whammy

We can go from the complicated, rules-heavy behemoth that is Jeopardy! over to a game that’s beautiful in its simplicity: Press Your Luck. While trivia’s still involved, the despair within Press Your Luck is the property of the game’s signature villain, the “Whammy.” A strange little red harbinger of doom, the Whammy resides on a board that contestants spin on among panels worth cold, hard, heavily taxed cash. Landing on a Whammy provokes a straightforward punishment: You lose all the money you’ve earned so far. Not many cartoons can claim that level of knee-buckling power.

In this particular clip, there’s a second twist. The contestant shown is in the bonus round, which was added when the show was rebooted in recent years, along with a new rule: If a contestant ever hits $500,000 in the bonus round, they’re immediately jumped up to a cool million bucks. Those were the dollar signs in the eyes of this contestant, sitting on $433,336, when he decided to keep spinning instead of walking away with that cash. 

How’d it go? Well, he’s on this list, so not great. At least his family was egging him on, or he might have lost a whole lot more.

Sleep-Deprived Surge Protector Knowledge Whiff

As college student Chase Sampson makes his way to the Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? hot seat, the host introduces him with a slightly alarming fact: The new contestant arrived at 3 a.m. and is playing on absolutely zero sleep. Not exactly prime physical condition for a test of wits. Unfortunately , this turned into a prophecy, as we were about to get a live demonstration of the effects of sleep deprivation.

Now, when it comes to trivia shows, if you don’t know, you don’t know. You can’t call someone getting a question that resides outside their realm of knowledge a mistake, but just an unlucky break. It’s a little harder to use this defense, when it’s the first question on Millionaire, a famous softball. Even worse is when, milliseconds after answering, you can see that the contestant themself realizes they just said one of the three worst possible things they could have said in that moment. Such is Chase’s fate, when confidently both answering that surge protectors protect against water flow, and locking in said answer in one single breath, only for a devastating “wait” to escape after the die has been cast. 

Next time get some melatonin, my guy.

One Expensive Hammock

Shouting out the answer to the current question is a quick way to get removed from the set of almost any game show, and probably get a solid kidney punch from Ken Jennings. Except, that is, if you’re in the audience of The Price Is Right, a show known for a chaotic, mob-like audience of retail-focused banshees in oversized stickers. The volume of a Price Is Right audience feels like it belongs in a Roman Colosseum rather than a Los Angeles sound stage. Knowing that, if you manage to make a guess that sends that studio bone silent, you should be impressed with how wrong you are just about to be.

A fellow named Corey achieved this feat while trying to guess the price of a hammock by Hatteras Hammocks. First, it should be established that this hammock was not made of any sort of precious metal, or featured any jewels encrusted on it anywhere. It was made out of cypress, which is a premium wood, to be sure, but not SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS premium. Which was Corey’s best guess. Worse yet, he was the last contestant to go, meaning he watched three contestants come in at $750, $1,200, and $755, and thought, “Everyone but me is off by over $5,000.” Actual retail price on the hammock? $880. Which is way too much for a fucking hammock, just not patently insane.

Mythological Hero Ay-Chillus

One of the most well-known and devastating stumbles in Wheel of Fortune history, already a show that feels like a natural breeding ground for massive whiffs, is the unfortunate tale of an Indiana student named Julian. Slashing through the wheel with the power of an ancient warrior who he definitely wishes he knew a little more about, Julian had just pocketed the million dollar space and successfully filled in every single letter of the needed phrase, “Mythological Hero Achilles.”

Moments away from greatness, and with a sense of joy and relief in his voice that would only make what followed more devastating, Julian wisely decided to solve the puzzle. In the end, he would be undone by a mispronunciation. He triumphantly, but erroneously, delivered his answer: Mythological Hero… Ay-Chillus. The air leaves the room faster than a space station airlock as the next contestant apologetically answers with the correct pronunciation of Achilles, and receives the win. 

This is a bag fumble that feels like a supervillain origin story.

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