We've all watched game shows and wondered what we'd do if we managed to win all that prize money. I'm fortunate to not have any debt, so I'd likely put a big chunk of my prize money into savings and then use the remaining portion to travel a bit. (Ha, travel... remember when we could do that?)
After Redditor mdd2525 asked the online community, "People who have been on game shows and won, what did you really win and how did it help your life?" people told us exactly what they did with their winnings and how their lives changed after their brief time in the spotlight.
"I was on a kids game show..."
I was on a kids game show in the late 80s with my brother. We won, but lost the grand prize (trip to Disneyland) in the bonus round, and were given a $500 gift certificate to a toy store instead. $250 each for a toy store was absolutely incredible for a couple of kids, especially in the 80s. I still remember that shopping trip.
"Pretty nice for the times."
My grandmother was Queen For A Day. It's an older game show. She won a new living room set. Pretty nice for the times.
"The check arrived..."
I won the top prize ($500) on a quiz show called Inquizition. This was around 1999. The check arrived right before my car registration was due, which was helpful because I had just lost my job.
"It's been 9.5 years..."
I won the showcase on The Price is Right. It was the spring break episode so it was only college students. It was my senior year of college. Winning a new car and a bunch of other stuff made the last semester of college awesome. It's s been 9.5 years and I still drive the car. So I guess it's changed my life in that I've never had car payments.
I won $125,000 on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire about 20 years ago. After taxes, I still had about $80,000. I paid my car off, got a computer, was able to quit a full-time job I hated and take a more enjoyable part-time job, and went to college. Now I work at a job I love that I wouldn't have if I never got a college education. RIP Regis.
"When the producer was interviewing..."
I was on "Let's Make a Deal" in 2016 and I won a new car. It was actually perfect timing because my old car was on its last legs and I had started saving for a new one, then I won a new one and the money I had saved paid the fees and stuff.
I won the car in August but didn't actually get it until November when the episode aired, but they drove it to my apartment and had me sign the deed and it was all pretty painless. I had heard rumors throughout life about winning on gameshows "costing you" and things like that, I guess because I already had some money saved for fees and taxes it ended up really painless. Got a brand new car work 16k for about 3k in fees and stuff. Totally worth it and would totally recommend it!
Here's a tip: If you ever go to one of those game shows that pick contestants out of the audience, they have a producer briefly interview EVERYONE (usually in groups) beforehand, and as long as you're lively without being theatrical, and seem interesting without being crazy, you have a good shot at being picked. When the producer was interviewing the 20 member slot of audience members I was grouped with, he asked everyone their name and what they did and one interesting fact about themselves. And one random guy who desperately wanted to be on TV started doing the worm there in the interview area. You could immediately see on the producer's face that though he was forcing laughter, that's definitely not what they're looking to put on TV. Loose cannons are a big no go.
"I paid the taxes..."
My girlfriend and I were on Shop Til You Drop and won big. I still use the dishes every day. The trip (trips? It was a long time ago) I won was decent. I paid the taxes on my winnings with a check before leaving the lot. It took months and months for all the deliveries to come in, which was weird. I sold off some of it, used a lot of it, and can't find the episode anywhere.
How did it help my life? The producer became a friend of ours and helped me propose to my gameshow partner girlfriend and we're still happily married 15 years later.
My Mom won a trip to Vegas by calling in about her worst day ever on a radio show. They were giving away a weekend for 2 in Vegas to someone that had a really bad day.
My Moms day started off with my Dad getting into a car accident totaling the van, our only vehicle at the time. Then when she got the rental car she did some grocery shopping and accidently locked the keys in the trunk after she loaded the groceries in.
She had to wait over 2 hours for a guy with his arm in a sling to show up to unlock the trunk, and the key snapped off. They had to call a lock smith to open the trunk and that took another hour.
All the perishable groceries were no good anymore because they were in the trunk for 3 hours. Then when my Mom was finally on her way home she hit a cat.
She then got home and had my brothers and I help her take in what was left of the groceries when my older brother closed the door locking all 3 of us out of the house.
Our neighbor had to help us break back into our house by prying open a window and helping me through so I could go unlock the door.
This was back in 1991 or 1992. My parents had a wonderful vacation, and nine months later had my baby brother.
Won $700 getting a question right on a radio call in show, my parents gave me $100 of it and kept the rest.
At the time I was annoyed, as an adult looking back it was because we were flat broke, $100 was an insane amount of money to a 12 year old in the 90's, and the rest went to crazy things like "us being able to eat". So overall not too bad.
Oh and when I was 20 I got to stand in a glass tube as a bunch of store vouchers for my local mall zoomed around me and anything I caught I kept. Shoved them all in my shirt and walked away with a few hundred worth.
"Because of Covid..."
I was on The Price is Right back in February and I won a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Because of Covid the trip is being moved to next season.
"Ended up with the grand prize..."
Won a Star Wars contest, right around the time that Phantom Menace came out. Had to answer questions, and got out into a huge lottery.
Ended up with the grand prize, but couldn't win it cause I was a minor. So my mom got all the accolades and really pissed off her coworker.
"I had just started college..."
I had just started college and the radio station was asking for the 150th caller to win a computer.
I called in and won an iMac. That big beautiful blue egg shell was my first computer and helped get me through college.
After 24 years teaching, I still have that thing. What a beautiful eye sore!
"I came in 2nd place..."
I came in 2nd place on Wipeout (only because they slowed the final Wipeout zone waaaayyy down for the new mom contestant). 1st place was $50,000. 2nd place, I received $10 gas money. Seriously true. Oh - the life changing part...the first time I was on, I split my head open. I got staples and bragging rights. I can still be seen in the opening credits but was edited out. My second appearance (2nd place) changed my life because somehow people are impressed that I was on Wipeout.
"I won about the same amount..."
I did. I won about the same amount I normally made in a year, which was not a lot, but it was enough to improve my life. I took a trip, bought some new clothes, went to a lot of concerts. The biggest thing I did was pay off an old tuition bill, which freed up my transcripts so I could go back to school.
"I won seven years ago."
I was on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and was two away from a million, went for it, got the question wrong, and walked away with $25k. It changed my life.
Actual exchange with my boss:
"Hey Wayne, if I get on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, can I have the day off?" I was going to an audition in my city the next day.
"Sure. If you get on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, you can have whatever day you want off."
I had just gotten married and was working as a waiter at the time. On the side I had this app I was working on. After winning, I worked through the holidays then quit to peruse my project. Three days later I was invited to lunch and put into contact with a tech company that hired me to work for them.Working there, I learned how to develop and launch my app which had a bit of success. We were at TechCrunch Disrupt, it was surreal, and were operating in five states at our peak. A college class wrote papers on my work, and at one point we were valued at seventeen million dollars by a foreign country that wanted me to move to another country to develop it there. And while it did't ultimately take off due to multiple reasons (it finally died this year due to COVID lockdowns), my wife and I were also able to start up a digital marketing company that we still operate today, and are already starting new ventures..
The most exciting thing I did though was use my resources that I built from the win to run for mayor of my town. I lost, came dead last, but was able to raise awareness and funds for causes I believed in, created a deep bond with my community, and continue to be involved to this day.
I won seven years ago. I look back and can't believe what I have been able to accomplish. I never "won" in the traditional sense, but I am so grateful for the things I've been able to experience and the impact I have been able to make.
In the end though, I've always believed something. All of that stuff I just mentioned? Sure the money helped, no doubt, but it was gone within a year and that's not why I was able to do it. It was the confidence. Seeing myself looking smart on TV, getting a check bigger than anything is ever seen, I felt a shift inside. I believed in myself, that I was more than just a waiter. I worked on being the person I could be, instead of being held back by the person I was.
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