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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People hard up for cash will do anything. But what about the other way around?
There are a ton of jobs or favors that don't require much skill, experience, or labor, and people who are fortunate enough to get hired walk away with a king's ransom.
Looking for those kinds of "jobs," however, is like finding a teardrop in the ocean.
"What's the dumbest thing you were paid to do and how much were you paid?"
Good luck finding these well-paying tasks.
"Had a WFH gig working sort of as a personal assistant for a rich guy on the opposite coast from me. I did all kinds of wacky sh*t for him. For example, one time I had to break up with my boss's girlfriend because he was too wimpy to do it himself. That was literally my job."
"One day, I bought him a new pickup truck. Meaning, I negotiated the deal and paid for the truck with his credit card. All in all, I'd say the process probably took about two weeks, for which I was paid my usual wage at six hours per day. No big deal."
"Somehow, his dad found out about the new truck and he decided he wanted a new pickup truck too. He called me about a week after I bought the truck for my boss and said he'd pay me $2,000 to buy a truck for him. I called the same dealership back, spoke to the same salesman, told him what was up and basically said give me another truck, same price as before. The salesman was only too happy to comply."
"It took ten minutes to make the phone call and then a day or two to get the title and other paperwork sorted out. So, depending on how you look at it, I made $2,000 for just ten minutes worth of 'work.'"
"Somehow, my boss's rich friend found out about all this. He decided he wanted a new SUV. 'OhYeahThrowItAway, you have to buy it for me!' I told him the last time I bought someone a vehicle, I got paid $2,000. The friend was basically like F'k it, I'll pay you $3,000, just get it for me' and then he emailed me his wish list."
"That deal took a little longer, maybe two weeks."
"I made $5k extra in just two months buying vehicles for lazy (or dumb) rich people."
Staying Out Of The Picture
"I was paid $300 to move my car for a movie that was filming by my apartment."
Pack It Up
"Got paid 10k to leave an apartment because it was sold and new owner wanted to move in. I was tenant (renter) under previous owner. I had 4 months left in my rental contract. This was in Spain (Barcelona)."
"I was flown to Paris to do a compliance audit, the systems weren't set up for the audit, couldn't get access so spent the week being taken to restaurants and shopping. On 1 of the days and at the last minute the company decided to send me to London for a meeting, literally just to meet people. I missed the Eurostar because I forgot my passport (totally blanked that I was entering another country), they had to rebook the Eurostar. Nothing was achieved out of this trip. No audit was completed. Nothing came of the meeting. The cost to the company 25k+ for me to do nothing for a week. Corporate money is ridiculous money."
Not much labor was required for these so-called "jobs."
Ten-Minutes Of "Work"
"I used to work for a PR agency. Every month one of our clients wanted a handful of photos re-sized for their website; nothing fancy, just setting the width to 500px in Windows Photo Manager."
"It was maybe ten minutes of work every month, but the contract said the minimum amount of time we would charge them for was one day - and this was for the full team too, not just me. It must have cost them several hundred pounds every month."
"I showed the client how to do it several times, and explained that they could save a lot of money doing it themselves. They didn't seem to mind."
"In the end I made sure I got it in writing that I'd informed them of their options and let them get on with it."
Thank You, Goodbye
"$175 to do some kind of user study at Netflix, I show up in the lobby and then they go, 'actually we got the data we needed from the studies earlier today, you're free to go!'. Still got paid!"
"I did an event for a national association for deaf people at which they did every presentation in ASL. I am an audio engineer, who specializes in live sound and concerts. I did nothing for 5 days of show, $450 a day."
Paid To Play
"I got asked to do 2 hours of barrier watch (Guarding a barrier ribbon while a crew did x rays inside a power plant). This was asked last minute after a 12 hour shift so the bonuses of staying happening to be a Sunday, etc I was being paid $110 to stand and play on my phone and make sure sure nobody tried to pass all the DO NOT ENTER DANGER DANGER signs during a time of day with minimal personnel."
"I rented my chicken to a photographer for fifty bucks."
Gotta Have Wendy's
"I was driving for uber. Picked up a bunch of drunks at like 2 AM. They were like 'Yo we gotta grab some Wendy' I go 'I'm sorry this is my busy period' they go 'Can we bribe you?' I go 'Absolutely you can bribe me.'"
"One the guys said I'll give you $100...I was shocked it was that high, another guy said '$150' and finally his wife said 'F'k it I want Wendy $200 and we buy you Wendy too.'"
"I finally said yes, FYI I hadn't said yes yet because the reality is $20-$40 would have gotten me to stop at Wendy."
"So there I sat at Wendy as those 3 drunks bought me wendy and paid me $200."
"One time I was at this super fancy dinner party. I'm talking servers and everything, I was in a freaking tux! It was outside and catered by a professional bbq company. I mean these guys had won international competitions. Well get this, they were double booked and didn't show. The other servers didn't know how to grill, and this totally smokin server in her 30s is just staring at the grill like a deer in the headlights. Well I don't want to be a hero but I ask if I can help. The entire staff spend the rest of the night bringing me drinks as I make this bbq and NOBODY realizes the award winning chefs didn't show up!"
Where Do We Apply?
"Ok this wasn't a job or anything.... But I got 10$ to eat half a watermelon."
Some opportunities present themselves.
When I was a kid, I hung out at a Japanese summer festival booth where you roll a bowling ball on a track that had two hills. The objective was to push the ball hard enough to get it over the first hill but not too hard to get it over the second hill.
I was fascinated with the challenge and stayed there for a long time as my parents were over by the food booths with their friends.
It was a slow day, and the dude working the booth wanted to peace out for a bit, so he offered to pay me $50 to "hang out" in his stead.
Of course, I said "sure."
No one ever came, and I earned fifty bucks rolling bowling balls for an hour. Was it the dumbest thing I ever did for money? Maybe, but I laughed all the way to the piggy bank that day.
That guy really must have despised his post enough to give a twelve-year-old kid $50.
Everyone talks about how the 20s are supposed to be the time of our lives. And that's largely true. But it's not all wine and roses.
Among all the freedom and youthful exuberance, so many people spend that decade struggling through the chaos of having absolutely no idea what their passion is.
And when we've internalized the desire to find an occupation that aligns with our values, sounds cool to talk about, and provides us with existential fulfillment, it can be difficult to identify the perfect fit.
So we hum along rather aimlessly.
Thankfully, some people do find their vocation and hunker down. But for others, it takes a little longer.
Perhaps struggling to locate that ideal passion, Redditor wibly_wobly_kid asked:
"People who discovered their passion at a later stage of life, what is it and how did you figure it out?"
Many people talked about making a career switch when they least expected. For the longest time, they new they didn't enjoy their work, but they didn't know what to do instead.
Hiding In Plain Sight
"I went to college twice in my early 20s for journalism and communications, but never graduated. I spent the rest of my 20s in a dead end food service job, miserable and angry at myself. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life"
"My extended family has lots of little ones (cousins having cousins) and every time there was a family get together, I always found myself playing with and entertaining the kids. One day, my uncle pointed out how good I was with kids, and did I ever consider working with them? I laughed it off but later thought 'hey, I have nothing better going on. What's the harm in researching a bit?' "
"I found out I could become an early childhood educator, working in daycares or kindergarten classes. So I applied to a couple of colleges and got in right away (applied on a Monday and got accepted the Friday). I quit my dead-end job and focused entirely on school. I made the dean's list all 4 semesters (something I have never done), and aced all my classes."
"I had a placement at a daycare/before and after school card place, and they hired me right after I finished my placement. So now I'm working there and happier than I ever was in my 20s"
Never Too Late
"Law. I was 45 when I went back to school. I'd worked blue collar jobs all my life, was a high school dropout. My daughter started taking paralegal classes and I thought, 'I could do that.' "
"So I got my GED and signed up for a 2-year paralegal certificate program through the local community college. Fell in love with law. Also discovered I was good at it. I had several professors who were lawyers tell me I'd be wasted as a paralegal and should go to law school."
"So I transferred to a 4-year school. Worked full time through undergrad and graduated with honors. Got into law school. I graduated law school at 55, oldest in my class. But I'd gone from being a high school dropout to a lawyer in just 10 years."
"Passed the California bar first try and I've been a public defender ever since, which is the only thing I ever wanted to do with it. I'm 60 now but I'm healthy and energetic and have a lot of years left. I love what I do, I'm very good at it, and it's the best move I ever made."
Every Week an Achievement
"Was 39 when I took a temp job in a social services type industry. Just basic stuff."
"Realised after a couple of years that I'd circled back to my idealistic 17yo self's plan for my career. Spent the previous 20 working sh** jobs I hated."
"Turns out it's really important to do something that aligns with your values. Finish the week feeling like I've contributed to society, rather than working to screw people for money."
Others discussed the passions they've discovered outside of their working life. These won't bring home any income, but their importance to life satisfaction cannot be understated.
"My dad discovered his life's biggest passion at 67. Mountain climbing. Serious mountaineering."
"He climbed Kilimanjaro and Whitney just months apart."
Plenty More Shredding In Store
"I started Rollerskating (on ramps) just before I turned 40 , it's never too late to start, you just need more safety gear :)"
"I've been doing it for years now I'm in my mid 40s and still rollin. It makes me a bit sad I didn't start when I was younger, but I reckon i've got another ten years left in me."
Moving the Needle On Women's Pockets
"Sewing/tailoring clothes. On a whim I took a class at a local community center and got hooked. After learning some basics in the class and following some YouTube videos I can make a passable pair of pants/trousers and basic shirts. I'm lucky that my local library had sewing machines you could check out so I didn't need to commit any real money early on."
"The best thing to come out of learning this new skill was making a pair of pants with actual pockets for my wife. Guys, you have not seen joy until you see your wife get a pair of functional custom pants with human-sized pockets. I thought her head was going to explode she was so happy."
Keep an Ear Out for Jingles
"I always wanted to learn an instrument that wasn't academic related."
"Over COVID lockdown I picked up the guitar."
"I picked it up pretty quick. So I learned the drums."
"Now I'm finishing building a music studio. I wanna write commercial jingles and just throw a bunch of sh** online for fun"
Unexpected, But Sounds Awesome
"I'm 31, but one year ago I discovered camels. Now I own three. I love them 🥰" -- ZhenHen
"I assume you are not talking about cigarettes, so how does one acquire not only one but three camels? Where do you live? How much did they cost? I'm very intrigued." -- dufresne90
"When you're into camels, every day is Hump Day." -- HolIerer
And a few put a finer point on the nature of that work vs. hobbies dynamic. They assured that one's professional career doesn't necessarily have to provide all the fulfillment they're looking for.
Sometimes, we just need to punch the clock.
Earning Free Time
"PSA: you don't have to be passionate about your job. Your passion can be a hobby you do in your free time. I don't think I will ever find a vocational passion."
"Used to think I was broken because of that but really there is no requirement to be head over heels about what puts money on the table and food in the pocket!"
Career's Moving, Still Painting
"Late 40s here. Got a book called Learn to Draw in 30 Days about 4 years ago. Then about 3 years ago I heard about #the100daychallenge where the goal is to create art every day for 100 days. I never stopped and made it a goal to hit 1000 days."
"In that time, I won contests, got about two hundred commissions, raised over $5000 for a charity, and had a great time. When I hit the 1000 days back in December, I decided to go back to college and get an art degree. I signed up for classes and talked with my manager at work to see how much they would pay for college, she was excited that I was going to get a business degree and said she'd work on getting all of the classes covered."
"Free college became too tempting to pass up so now I'm planning on getting the business degree and then on to law school because they'll pay for that too. I just finished my first semester with a 4.0 and I'm on day 1136 of my non-stop painting journey."
So if you're still looking around for your passion and feeling discouraged, rest assured that it might come your way when you least expect it.
And life is long, my friends.
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Don't disturb my beauty sleep! That's the one rule I have––and thankfully I live alone, so there isn't anyone to bother me, which is fabulous. But that doesn't mean I'm immune to getting woken up in the middle of the night. The worst way I can think of off the top of my head? The time a drunk guy wandered into my friend's yard and started banging on the window while I was trying to sleep. It was 3 a.m. The incident also gave me the fright of my life!
People told us about the experiences that yanked them out of dreamland after Redditor GratefulD_86 asked the online community,
"What is the worst way you've been woken up?"
"By raw sewage pouring through my ceiling (in my bedroom) from my upstairs neighbor.
He partied and ripped the toilet out of the floor, then continued using it. Took maintenance almost 16 hours to show up and turn off the flow."
"I literally didn't even know..."
"Cops beating on my door to search my house for someone I was hiding. I literally didn't even know the person."
Terrifying. This could have ended very badly.
"Cops busted down my door..."
"Cops busted down my door to take me to jail for having meth except. They had the wrong house."
"Neighbor decided to hang shelves in her bathroom after midnight and drilled into our shared wall. Scared the crap out of me."
The walls do indeed have ears.
"The phone woke me up..."
"The phone woke me up a little after midnight. I was informed that my mother had died. It was not totally unexpected. Her health had been declining.
I still dread hearing the phone ring late at night."
"A cockroach entering my mouth on my first day of camp."
"Police department knocking..."
"Police department knocking on my door at 2 a.m. saying the meth lab across the street might blow up so we needed to get out ASAP."
Is this a deleted episode of Breaking Bad?
"My cats were chasing each other..."
"My cats were chasing each other and one ran across my face while I was sleeping. The scratches were pretty bad all across one side of my face. It was the day before my senior prom too, so I ended up having a scratched-up face for that. I still have a scar right by my eye."
Cats are always at their most unpredictable very late at night!
"My Dad would keep a bag of marbles in the freezer. If you didn't wake up the first time, he dumped them into your bed."
"The neighbor in the building across from us..."
"Glass shattering. Lived in a 6 story apartment building. The neighbor in the building across from us was having some kind of psychotic break and was throwing everything he could get his hands on off his balcony. He was aiming for the windows of other apartments. We were far enough away to not get hit but watching that go down was not super fun."
We don't envy anyone of these people. Hopefully their lives have been filled with plenty of glorious, uninterrupted sleep since.
Have some of your own stories? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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I love food! Maybe a little too much. It's been an especially amorous relationship over this pandemic. And I know I'm not alone.
All of our palettes are tuned to our own personal tastes. And sometimes certain items and combinations of tastes can leave others less than enticed.
I've lost track of all the side-eye I've gotten when I declare how much I enjoy PINEAPPLE on pizza. I said it. I meant it. Fight me. Let's discuss who else has eclectic tastes.
Redditor u/CatVideoFest wanted to discuss the mixing of certain ingredients that don't leave the best taste in one's mouth by asking:
Food is for survival. That was the plan. But over the years it has become somewhat of a way of life. Some of the most annoying people are foodies. They get so uppity about the preferences of others. Like, let me just enjoy what I enjoy.
Mom No!Mom Smile GIFGiphy
"I don't like my mom's cooking."
"Livestock have refused to eat my mother's cooking. She's a terror in the kitchen."
Take them OUT!!
"I hate walnuts in baked goods. It tastes like wood shavings and completely ruins the flavor."
"I love walnuts but I feel this way about raisins in baked goods, raisins are fine by themselves but not in sweets, I once ordered cinnamon rolls at Hardee's and bit into it and found out there were raisins in it, and I was grossed out and didn't want to eat it. At least freakin' McDonald's serves real cinnamon rolls without freakn' raisins!"
The Fart Ingredient
"I don't like kidney beans except in chili."
Oh thew Crunch...
"Pickles and onion make the best sandwich. I make most of my own pickles from stuff I grow or get from local farms in the fall, but I responded to another comment with two different heinous concoctions I enjoy. Crunchy, salty, sour. I really like pickles and onions to begin with."
"I use more than pickled cucumber though. Like the last one I made, I used garlic naan, mayo, red onion, scallions, pickled garlic, green olives, Kalamata olives, garlic dill cucumber, and green beans. Shallot, sour pickled onion, sweet pickled cucumbers, and sushi ginger on sprouted 14 grain bread is also also a favorite of mine."
No Sizzlebacon GIFGiphy
"I do not like bacon."
Who doesn't like bacon? That seems like a sacrilege. Right? But to each their own. Though I will never understand not loving walnuts in comfort food. Y'all need more self love.
Love the Big M
"Fast food tastes amazing, yeah its unhealthy as hell but don't you sit there and lie and say it tastes bad."
Blasphemy!golden girls flirting GIF by HULUGiphy
"Cheesecake is disgusting."
Too Many Legs
"Lobsters and crabs are giant insects."
"I don't really think that's that controversial, in my area of the world we even call this creature a 'Moreton Bay Bug' even though some fisheries try to give it the more appealing name of 'flathead lobster'."
"Boneless wings are vastly superior to bone-in wings. I think bone-in wings are a ripoff because when you get half a pound of them, part of that half-pound is inedible. It's like if you ordered a quarter-pound cheeseburger, but the restaurant considers the weight of the plate to be part of that quarter-pound and you end up with just a slider. Just give me some damn meat."
The Slimeman oyster GIFGiphy
"Oysters are truly disgusting and absurdly overpriced for quarter sized pieces of snot that tastes like salt water and hot sauce."
Ok, I'm trying to stay calm. I don't want to judge. But some of these opinions... are leaving me shook. Except the oysters. That is that work of the devil. Look away...