Major Jackpots in Game Show History

The Bridge over the River Kwai earned University of Delaware graduate student Roger Craig a total of $77,000 on yesterday’s episode of Jeopardy! making him the biggest single-day-earner in the history of the program. Craig was already on a warpath after raking in $47,000 before Final Jeopardy even started, so wagering 30-grand on the category, “Literary and Movie Title Objects,” probably seemed like chump change. Also, everyone knows Literary and Movie Title Objects is, like, the easiest category ever.

But despite his killer payday, Craig still has a lot of answers to question before he ekes out the previous Jeopardy! record holder and dozens of other game show contestants for the most money earned on a television game show. In honor of Roger Craig, let’s take a look at five other guys (and, yes, unfortunately, they’re all guys) who made some memorable bank on TV.

Michael Larson
After pulling in $110,237 in cash and prizes on Press Your Luck in 1984, this grizzly, unemployed ice cream man held the record for most money earned in a single game show. And how did he do it? By cheating like those MIT ruffians in that movie, 21. Sort of. Larson claimed later that he used his VCR to painstakingly memorize, frame-by-frame, the lighting patterns on the Press Your Luck board, figuring out how he could appear on the show and make big bucks, no whammies. Though at the time his story seemed uplifting — he claimed he had no money to his name before coming on the program, using what he had left to fly to Hollywood and purchase a cheap thrift store jacket — the rest of his life reads like an alternate version of Quiz Show. Check out his Wikipedia page for his bizarre life story.