The Biggest Prizes in Television History

August 8, 2011 By:
The Biggest Prizes in Television History

The X-Factor is offering the all-time biggest cash prize in the history of television--$5 million. Aren’t we supposed to be in a recession or something?

Producers announced the gargantuan prize on Friday, adding that the winner will also star in a commercial for Pepsi that will be broadcast during the Super Bowl.

But yeah, yeah, football, soda, whatever. What about that $5 million? According to producers, the amount will come directly out of the show’s budget. The X-Factor might be making history, but other game shows have offered some huge cash payouts, too.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: On April 10, 2001, Kevin Olmstead answered his final question correctly on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Olmstead won $2.18 million, and he was the biggest winner in TV history at the time.

Jeopardy: In 2004, Ken Jennings won $2.5 million from 75 games in Jeopardy. But in a head-to-head competition, contestant Brad Rutter beat out Jennings, winning $3.2 million. The two then went to compete against Watson, a computer. Needless to say, Watson kicked ass.

Survivor: Survivor holds the record for highest payout from a reality show, and that money went to Sandra Diaz-Twine. She is the show’s only two-time winner. She won a good $2,000,000 from the show. Whoever wins X-Factor gets more than double that, and they don’t even have to eat bugs.

Duel: Ashlee Register won $1,795,000 from the short-lived show, Duel. It aired from December 17 to December 23, 2007. It was described as a cross between Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and The World Series of Poker.

Twenty One: This show almost ruined the American game show for good because of the revelation that it was rigged when it first aired in the 50s. But when a new version came back in 2000, contestant David Legler took home $1,765,000 over six wins on the show.

Greed: Curtis Warren won $1,410,000 from Greed. But the show’s top prize was $2 million. Warren also won $136,288 in the show Sale of the Century and another $700 from Win Ben Stein’s Money. Forget college, kids. Go into a career in game shows.

The Price Is Right: The Price Is Right had a $1,000,000 Spectacular, and Adam Rose won a whopping $1,153,908. It pays to know how much a bottle of laundry detergent costs.

The X-Factor is going to be seriously expensive. Not only do they have history’s biggest TV payout, they may also have to compensate local stations for preempting their programming. Because the first X-Factor episode will be 2.5 hours long, a half hour of news shows will be preempted. And those affiliates will need to be paid for the lost revenue.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go audition for the X-Factor.