Game Show Scandals

Katie Wight, Staff Writer

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Have you ever stayed home sick from school or work, turned on the TV and saw that a game show was on? Chances are you probably have. Game shows have been around since the late 1930’s, when the first game show, Spelling Bee, was aired, and have continued to be on TV. There are different types of game shows that either require you to use your knowledge or everything is based on pure luck. The ultimate goal though, is to win a prize, whether it’s money, a car, a date, a trip, you name it! But have you ever heard of a game show scandal?

One scandal is from the game show Million Dollar Money Drop when in 2010, on their first episode, a couple lost 800,000 dollars despite having the right answer. Gabe Oyoke and Brittany Mayti were asked which was sold first in stores: Macintosh computer, Sony Walkman or Post-it notes, the pair decided on Post-it notes. After they found out they were wrong, they were devastated. The couple had wagered 800,000 dollars from the 880,000 they had left on this question. They later ended up losing all of their money and went home empty handed. While Post-it Notes were sold nationwide a year after the Sony Walkman came to stores, they were originally sold in four cities under the name Press N Peel in 1977. The couple had been right! Jeff Apploff, the show’s executive producer said: “Unfortunately, the information our research department originally obtained from 3M regarding when Post-it notes were first sold was incomplete. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the viewers who brought this to our attention, and we’re thrilled to give Gabe and Brittany the opportunity to return to play the game.” But before they were given a 2nd chance, the show was canceled after just one season.

Another scandal is from the game show The Dating Game when in 1978, bachelorette Cheryl Bradshaw made the unfortunate mistake of choosing bachelor number one, Rodney Alcala. What Bradshaw and viewers didn’t know was that Alcala was a serial killer looking for his next victim. After the show, when the cameras weren’t rolling, Bradshaw said she felt quite uncomfortable around him and that he wouldn’t make eye contact. Later, Alcala somehow obtained a job at the Los Angeles Times under his real name. He was a typist during the day but at night he would lure young girls to be a part of his professional photography portfolio, some of them never to be heard from again. Finally, in 1980, police caught Alcala. Since his capture, he has been on trial for the murders of 5 women, but there are likely many more that were never discovered. After being sentenced to the death penalty 2 times, Alcala still hasn’t been executed. He now sits on death row in Corcoran State Prison, California awaiting his 3rd death sentence.

Lastly, in August of 2013, Thomas Hurley III lost 3,000 dollars on Jeopardy! because he misspelled the phrase “Emancipation Proclamation.” It was the show’s final round and Thomas had already achieved 9,600 dollars, and then wagered 3,000 on this question: “Abraham Lincoln called this document which took effect in 1863, ‘a fit and necessary war measure.’” Thomas answered: “What is the Emanciptation Proclamation?” The shows host, Alex Trebek replied: “You misspelled badly,” and his response ended up being disqualified per the judges’ ruling. In the end, Thomas still would have been runner up because the winner, Skyler Hornback won a record-setting 66,000 dollars. While Thomas still went home with 2,000 dollars, many, including his father, believed that Trebek still owed him an apology. In the end, Jeopardy! stuck with their decision and the producers said: “If Jeopardy! were to give credit for an incorrect response (however minor), the show would effectively penalize the other players. We love presenting young people as contestants on our show, and make every effort to be fair and consistent in their treatment.” 

Do you know what a game show scandal is now? Just like Gabe Okoye, Brittany Mayti, Cheryl Bradshaw and Thomas Hurley, many people have fallen victim to the unjust or unfair acts of game shows. The reason why game show scandals are so important is because it affects more than just the show, it affects the players. Whether it’s losing a large amount of money, or finding out the bachelor you picked is a serial killer, those events have an impact on people. On the bright side, everyone on a game show leaves with either more than what they started with or with the same amount of what they had, they’ve got nothing to lose that they don’t already have.

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Game Show Scandals