Every one of us has our own favorite TV game show. Whether it’s Jeopardy! or The Price is Right, these programs hold a special place in our hearts. After all, walking away with a bunch of free stuff sounds like a dream, right? But some of the things which go on behind the scenes with these shows might have you spitting out your coffee. So from drunk hosts to participants Googling their answers, here are 40 secrets that producers would rather keep quiet.
40. You can take the cash instead
You don’t always get the prizes you win – as one Price is Right contestant discovered. A Reddit user claimed that though they won a haul including movie tickets and an iPad, the show’s staff handed them the cash equivalent instead. But that’s allegedly at the discretion of the show’s producers. Apparently, you can’t just ask for cash.
39. No repeat offenders
If you’re lucky enough to win a CBS game show – including The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune – it’ll be your last for a while. According to Ranker, there’s a whopping decade-long ban on winners appearing on any other program on the network. You can go to a taping, but don’t expect to be winning prizes any time soon.
38. The true meaning of a lifetime: part one
Winning a lifetime’s supply of anything sounds like a great deal, right? Well, that all depends on how you measure a life. One Reddit user who said they’d been a contestant on the Australian Wheel of Fortune show received a lifetime supply of WD40 oil. And it amounted to four whole cans. Apparently, each one lasts 20 years…
37. The true meaning of a lifetime: part two
In some cases, a lifetime supply can mean exactly that. One Redditor claimed that their partner won a lifetime supply of Butterfinger bars as a kid. Hundreds of them subsequently landed on her doorstep. And while many were eaten, most were given away or thrown in the trash. She reportedly never ate the candy again. So, technically, it did last a lifetime.
36. Millionaire family fortunes
Ever wondered why the audience so often gives the wrong answer on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Well, apparently it’s deliberate, according to one Reddit user who said that they’d been a contestant. They claimed that the crowd is made up of the family and friends of the potential players. So, the quicker the person in the hot-seat leaves, the more likely their loved one will get a shot at a million dollars.
35. Fake cash in a cab
You know that famous traveling quiz show with an instant prize called Cash Cab? Well, while the winners might look like they get to walk away with a wad of green, it’s actually fake money, according to a Redditor. Instead, the winners get a check in the mail after their episode has aired.
34. Pre-judge judges
Auditions for The X-Factor are notoriously awkward and hilarious – often featuring the deluded and disillusioned alongside the more talented potentials. This is how open auditions work, right? Wrong: a Redditor claims that all auditionees actually see a set of pre-show judges before making it onto the celeb judges part. Only the most TV-worthy get to see how short Simon Cowell really is.
33. Pre-pre-recorded laughter
We all know that canned laughter is sometimes used on sitcoms to beef up the reactions. But did you know that competitions including The X-Factor do something very similar? One Reddit user claimed that the Aussie version of the show pre-tapes the audience reactions before any act reaches the stage, and they then use them in the broadcast.
32. Silent jeopardy
While late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was supremely chatty during the episodes, contestants found that he was entirely silent between takes. But that’s not because he was unfriendly, you understand. Trebek was actually banned from talking to contestants when the cameras were off, to avoid even the smallest whiff of collusion. Why? Well, back in the 1950s quiz shows were mired in scandals, and Congress subsequently amended the Communications Act to make cheating an offense.
31. Changing colors
Shows such as Jeopardy! air on a daily basis, though they aren’t necessarily filmed that way. According to one Reddit user, the program’s producers film multiple episodes at a time, and they are broadcast at a rate of one per day. This means that returning contestants must bring different outfits to wear so that it looks as if they came back a few days in a row.
30. Commercial turn
Something rather unique apparently occurs during the taping of Wheel of Fortune. It’s filmed live, as you would expect, but that also includes the ads which appear during the commercial breaks. But we didn’t get to the odd part yet. While the commercials are playing, one Redditor claimed that contestants have to turn their backs so that they don’t spend extra time looking at the board. Weird, right?
29. Credit car
Being able to drive away in a shiny new car is one of The Price is Right’s most appealing draws. But, as it turns out, you might not get the gleaming vehicle that was sat in front of you during your time on the show. One Reddit user who claimed they’d been a contestant reported receiving a call from a local dealership after their episode aired. Apparently, the person instead received a gift card which amounted to the car’s value.
28. MasterChef made easy
The MasterChef franchise makes its contestants look as though they’re all excellent cooks who can complete intricate challenges in ridiculously small amounts of time. But one audience member watching the Aussie version told Yahoo Lifestyle that this might not be the case. According to Melbourne mom Donna De La Rue, contestants all have assistants who taste the food and clean up after the messy cooks are done.
27. Speedy chefs
Producers for MasterChef Australia apparently have some interesting tricks up their sleeves. During the episodes, the contestants frantically attempt to make delicious dishes before time runs out. But, it seems, not all cooks work at the same speed. Melbourne mother Donna De La Rue told Yahoo Lifestyle that some finish in lightning-quick time. Though she claimed that the episodes are edited to make it look as if they all finish together.
26. Don’t forget your taxes
There is one huge catch to winning anything on a TV quiz show. And that’s tax. Yup, any prizes won are considered earned income in the U.S., which means you have to pay upfront before receiving any of your haul. As per E! Online, one victorious quizzer turned down a $10,000 prize because he didn’t want to split it with his ex-wife. You have been warned.
25. Easy games for a new host
Producers on The Price is Right wanted comedian Drey Carey to be popular with the audience when he took over hosting duties in 2007. So they came up with a novel way of doing just that. To smooth the transition, easier games were introduced – leading to more winners. In turn, showrunners hoped that goodwill would rub off on the new presenter. There was one problem with that strategy, though. While viewers loved Carey, the show was $700,000 over budget by January the following year, according to E! Online. Popularity, it seems, is very expensive.
24. Nickelodeon’s tasty idea
Over the years, we’ve seen countless kids get covered in slime on Nickelodeon’s game shows. But it’s not just youngsters who’ve had the pleasure of getting covered in neon-colored goo. Thanks to the network’s Kids’ Choice Awards, plenty of adult celebrities have been gunked – including Will Smith, Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato. Though it could be worse. According to one Reddit user, the green stuff actually tastes like pineapple.
23. Trading prizes
Back in the 1980s it seems that game show producers were a little more flexible about which prize you actually took home. One Redditor revealed that their mom negotiated a great deal after winning on The Price is Right. She swapped a two-door Pontiac Sunbird for a four-door Sunfire car, a trailer for cash and a grand piano for a much smaller electronic keyboard. Her sons are apparently both musicians now, and they credit the show with their careers.
22. The host might be drunk
Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak once revealed that there was often something of a party atmosphere in the studio during the show’s early seasons. And that was mostly due to Sajak and co-host Vanna White being a bit tipsy on-set. The former once told ESPN2, “[White] and I would… have two, three or six [drinks] and then come and do the last shows and have trouble recognizing the alphabet.”
Shows like The Bachelor franchise are often accused of being scripted and not real in any fashion. Though that isn’t strictly true. According to Cosmopolitan, while there’s no real pre-written dialogue to speak of, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a specific story that producers want to tell. And they apparently achieve this with clever editing.
20. Google a friend
Contestants on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? are given the option of calling a friend when they get stuck. That pal is then given 30 seconds to come up with an answer. But did you know that they are not prohibited from using Google to help nail down the right option? That’s according to one Reddit user, who claimed that the producers made no mention of banning search engines when he appeared as a lifeline on the show.
19. No broadcast, no prize
Believe it or not, contestants usually receive their prizes only after a game show episode has aired. These programs need advertising revenue, after all. One Reddit user claimed that they were a contestant on a show called Sale of the Century, and it was due to be broadcast on September 12, 2001. They apparently nearly lost out on their winnings after regular programming was suspended following the 9/11 attacks the previous day. Though in their case, the prizes were saved as the program was eventually aired due to a carry-over champion also appearing on that particular episode.
18. The floor is orange sauce
Hit Netflix game show The Floor is Lava – an adults-only remake of a kids’ program – uses a very special goo to represent said liquid magma. Producers have claimed that while the actual recipe is a secret, there is a commercially available product that comes really close to it. And it’s Panda Express Orange Sauce. Turns out you can try this at home!
17. Cold tasting
The judges on MasterChef Australia make it look as though the food they’re eating is straight out of the kitchen. Though it turns out that they are just really good actors. Host Ted Allen explained to Yahoo! TV that the meals in front of them are actually cold – having sat in storage for up to an hour. As a result, judges often try the dishes while they’re being cooked to get an idea of what they really taste like.
16. No babies allowed
This might surprise you, but it turns out that the producers on Survivor have some quite peculiar concerns when it comes to their contestants. According to website The Things, participants are offered birth control during filming to prevent any island-related mishaps. But they only offer it to the female participants. Perhaps they can’t trust the men not to make balloons out of condoms?
15. Judging the judges
Lots of shows make it look as though the judges have the final say during the episodes. Though it turns out that this isn’t always the case. Business Insider claims that it is written into the contracts of lots of shows that the producers can sometimes decide who stays and goes. And it’s pursuant to the most TV-friendly result.
14. Food raid!
The contestants on Survivor are forced to live on very little food as part and parcel of appearing on the show. Most participants, naturally, accept this situation without question. Others, though, take a slightly different view. According to The Things, contestants broke into the production camp in season 16 and stole some Gatorade and peanut butter from the crew. And you can rest assured that security has been beefed up since that unfortunate incident.
13. Phoney baloney
While shows like The Bachelor don’t use scripts, they do sometimes film scenes months after the series is essentially over. Former contestant Sean Lowe revealed in his memoir that he filmed his confessional scenes weeks after the dates had taken place. The participant wrote, “I’d say things like, ‘I’m having a blast with Des tonight, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.’ It wasn’t disingenuous, because I expressed what my true feelings were at the time. Mainly, it was boring.”
12. Internal strife
The physical challenges on Survivor can be pretty extreme. And yet, they’re always safe for the contestants to use. Though how do we know that? Website The Things notes that producers try every single one of them out on the show’s interns. Talk about learning on the job.
11. Voice of drama
Lots of shows – including Survivor and The Bachelor – use a bunch of TV trickery to make situations appear more dramatic. Case in point: Luke Stone and Chris Harrison’s flower incident. In order to make it appear as though the latter offered a rose to the room, producers recorded the plea and edited it in. As Stone later tweeted, “Just saw [the episode] for the first time and I won’t stand by and let that fly. It’s called a voice-over. Nice try, guys. Chris Harrison did not ‘present my rose’ to the group. In reality, I got shut down, hugged everyone and left ‒ well done, editing team.”
10. Shiny drive
Regardless of who the current Bachelor or Bachelorette may be, there’s always a superstar making a sparkling appearance as the limos pull up on the show’s first night. That’s right, we’re talking about the glossy and glamorous driveway – always shining and shimmering whatever the weather. And believe it or not, there’s no trickery or special bricks. It’s just plain old water sprayed onto the drive before shooting, according to E! Online.
9. Frozen roses
The gorgeous roses given out on The Bachelor franchise always look so fresh it’s as if they’ve just been picked. But, as you’ve probably guessed, that’s not necessarily the case. E! Online notes that those perfect buds are left on ice in the so-called “art room”– away from the cameras. Just to further shatter your illusions, the whole lot is kept in a giant garbage can. And if that’s not a metaphor, we don’t know what is.
8. Two drinks per hour
Believe it or not, that first night on The Bachelor comes with some strict rules. And despite what looks like free-flowing alcohol available to the contestants, there is, in fact, a rule of two drinks per hour, according to E! Online. Though any alcohol enthusiasts need not be disappointed; Entertainment Weekly notes that filming lasts around ten hours on the first night. Yep, that’s a lot of cocktails.
7. Bling returns
Of course, if you are lucky enough to make it to the final of a Bachelor series, there’s a good chance that you will get your hands on some pretty serious designer jewelry. A bling-encrusted engagement ring features on every season of the show. But E! Online notes that the diamonds are returned if you and your TV boo break up in less than two years.
6. Pay to play
Despite Jeopardy!’s enormous popularity and success, there’s one thing they don’t tell contestants until after they’ve been chosen to appear. Turns out that you have to pay for your own flight and accommodation, according to BuzzFeed. Though provided that you come in above third, you should break even.
5. Full critique
It seems the judges on Top Chef eat a lot. Like, everything that’s put in front of them. That’s a ton of food. According to E! Online, the secret is a huge amount of fluids. Some former contestants claim that the beverage of choice is water. Others, though, have suggested that it might be something a whole lot stronger.
4. Top Choice
Top Chef judges apparently spend hours in discussion when they can’t agree on a decision. And when this doesn’t work, Entertainment Weekly claims that they call in a very special assistant. A camera operator called T-Bone reportedly tastes many of the dishes, so he has as good an idea as any of the judges.
3. Calorific cuisine
Host Padma Lakshmi once revealed just how much food she consumes during a season of Top Chef. She told The Hollywood Reporter that she typically consumes around 8,000 calories a day during filming. For the presenter, that means up to 17 pounds in weight gain every season.
2. Coming on down isn’t random
One Redditor, it seems, spilled a huge secret about The Price is Right. Although it might look as though those audience names are being called at random, it turns out they may not be at all. Claiming to have been a former contestant on the show, they alleged that all participants are interviewed prior to the taping.
1. Do-it-yourself hair and makeup
Perhaps unbelievably, the non-Bachelor/ettes in the show do not have access to hair and makeup services. As per E! Online, they’re pretty much left to their own devices right up until the final. That’s right, those contestants are doing their own hair every episode.
Jeopardy! just won’t be the same, though, without the late, great Alex Trebek. Although the star was actually born and raised in Canada, he rose to become an iconic figure of U.S. television, with millions growing up hearing his warm, witty comments on screen. And while Trebek sadly lost his two-year fight with pancreatic cancer in November 2020, his legacy lives on in the hilarious and heartwarming moments he shared with us all. Here are just 40 of them.
40. Trebek helps with a proposal
What could be more romantic than proposing to your lover on Jeopardy! Well… maybe a few things, but it’s what one couple wanted and Trebek helped make it perfect for them. Michael Pascuzzi asked Maria Shafer for her hand, and she answered yes straight away. Trebek joked, “Maria, you responded too quickly. I was about to say we’ll have the answer to that question right after this commercial break.”
39. “What is you doing baby?”
Back in October 2018 Jeopardy! contestant Erik Agard found he couldn’t answer a question, so he turned to the world of online memes and wrote down “What is you doing baby?” instead. Trebek was completely baffled, saying simply, “Well, I’m responding incorrectly.” But the moment went down in both internet and meme-lover history, as it should.
38. Trebek brings his kids onto the show
Trebek was the father of three children. And back when two of them, Emily and Matthew, were still young he decided to bring them onto Jeopardy! The host told the audience, “The kids had no school today, so I promised six-year-old Emily and nine-year-old Matthew that they could attend a taping of our show.” Now that’s gotta be the best bring-your-child-to-work day ever.
37. A memorable answer
In 2013 Trebek asked teenage contestant Leonard Cooper who said, “The eyes of the world are upon you.” The correct answer was Dwight D. Eisenhower, but Cooper wrote down, “Who is some guy in Normandy. But I just won $75,000!” Trebek delightedly responded with, “You did indeed, way to go!”
36. A cameo on The Simpsons
Of course anyone who’s anyone has appeared on The Simpsons and Alex Trebek is no exception. He popped up in the episode “Miracle of Evergreen Terrace” where Marge goes on Jeopardy! to try and win $15,000 for Springfield. Although, this particular version of Trebek treats failed contestants rather differently.
35. Trebek pays tribute to a contestant
In December 2016 an episode of Jeopardy! ended with a very special tribute. A six-day champion of the show, Cindy Stowell, had died of metastatic colorectal cancer before her episodes had even made it to air. Her winnings had been donated to research for a cure. Trebek celebrated her life on the show — this has an even sadder resonance now after his own death from cancer.
34. Trebek goes minus his pants
Trebek believed in keeping his contestants amused and comfortable, even if that meant occasionally doing embarrassing things. During the 2005 Tournament of Champions, he decided to ease all the tension by walking out on the Jeopardy! stage without his pants on. And of course, the television cameras captured the moment forever.
33. A contestant gives a silly answer
If you don’t know the answer to a question, sometimes it’s best to take a guess. That’s what one Jeopardy! contestant did back in 2014 when Trebek asked her what “Selenophobia” was. She answered, “What is fear of Mexican music stars?” a reference to Queen of Tejano music Selena Quintanilla and — hopefully! — a joke. Trebek laughed and said no, but he thought the response was great.
32. Trebek makes his cancer announcement
Trebek’s way of dealing with his cancer diagnosis was truly impressive. When he made the announcement in 2019 not only did he do it informatively and calmly, he even made a joke. He told his fans, “I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease. Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years!”
31. Trebek finds himself at the wrong end of a joke
Remember when the meme “Okay Boomer” was a thing? It even popped up on the show. In January 2020 Trebek asked famed Jeopardy! contestant Ken Jennings, “A 2019 New York Times article says this two-word phrase ‘marks the end of friendly generational relations.’” A delighted Jennings called, “I get to say it to Alex! What is ‘Okay, Boomer?’” Luckily Trebek took it all in good humor.
30. Kareem Abdul Jabbar accidentally reveals too much
In 2012 NBA icon Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who Trebek’s always been a fan of, appeared on Jeopardy! Trebek put an innocuous question to him, namely, “The five movie ratings in the US are NC-17, R, PG, PG-13 and this one.” The basketball star suggested, “X?” The correct answer is G (NC-17 replaced the X-rating in 1990). Well, they do say never meet your heroes.
29. Trebek calls a contestant weird
Some great Muppet-related banter happened on Jeopardy! in March 2018. Champ Lisa Mueller told a story about a letter she once wrote to Big Bird, telling him, “My third favorite color is yellow, just like you are.” At this, Trebek remarked, “You get the feeling that our current champion is a little weird?” When Mueller looked a little shocked at this, Trebek added, “You disrespected Big Bird. You’re lucky to be here.”
28. Trebek starts campaigning
In October 2019 Trebek partnered up with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition to release a PSA about symptoms of the disease. He talked about the risk factors and about what he’d experienced, and asked viewers to join him in the fight against the cancer which was to sadly take his life the following year.
27. Trebek on the X-Files
One of Trebek’s oddest ever appearances was on supernatural show The X-Files opposite David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder. He played himself… or possibly a Man in Black who just happened to look incredibly like himself. Either way, it made for one of the funniest, weirdest episodes of the hit show’s third season.
26. Trebek wishes his mom a happy birthday
Fans of Trebek and Jeopardy! got a wholesome surprise in 2016 when the host opened an episode by saying he’d like to wish someone a happy birthday. That someone turned out to be his mother, Lucille, who had just turned 95 years old. Trebek was overcome while talking about her and even cried a little. Aww!
25. Trebek wins a Guinness World Record
Among Trebek’s many achievements is a Guinness World Record. He got the award in 2014, during his 6,829th episode, for “most game shows hosted by the same presenter.” Now that’s impressive, but what’s even more impressive is that he’d never missed an episode. Well, apart from one April Fool’s Day where he traded places with Pat Sajak, but that was all in the name of comedy.
24. Trebek on SNL
Saturday Night Live always did a bit where Will Ferrell played Alex Trebek on a Jeopardy! spoof. And the real Trebek didn’t take offense, the exact opposite in fact, he loved it. He even showed up as part of a “Celebrity Rock ‘n Roll Jeopardy!” sketch in 2002, since it was Ferrell’s last show as a cast member.
23. The “We love you Alex” moment
While Trebek was fighting cancer in November 2019, a contestant decided to give him some encouragement. Dhruv Gaur wrote, “We love you, Alex,” as one of his answers and sure, he failed the question, but he won the hearts of viewers everywhere. Trebek himself was so touched by the moment he was close to tears.
22. A contestant brags
During a 2014 Jeopardy! show, contestant Ari Voukydis couldn’t think of the answer, so he threw caution to the wind and wrote down, “Who is this handsome gentleman” with an arrow pointing at himself. He didn’t win of course, but his efforts won him a “good for you!” from Trebek which might have been an even better reward.
21. Trebek is insensitive about a goat
Alas, Trebek once started giggling at what was totally the wrong time. A contestant called Laura revealed she once had a pet pygmy goat who ate everything, including a bag of Quikrete which killed it. A laughing Trebek asked “Was it a 60-pound or 80-pound bag?” and got an “Alex, you’re being insensitive!” from Laura. He agreed with her, but the laughter continued.
20. Trebek praises Kobe Bryant
Trebek always loved the Los Angeles Lakers, and when Kobe Bryant played his last game in 2016 the game show host filmed a special clip for him. Trebek said, “Kobe will have a great post-basketball playing career.” But since both men passed away in 2020, the clip now just seems heart-wrenchingly poignant.
19. A contestant wins with the smallest amount
It was back in 1993 when a contestant set a record for winning Jeopardy! with the smallest possible amount, one single dollar. This was Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Darryl Scott, and Trebek was blown away. He shouted, “Lowest total ever! But congratulations!” The same thing wouldn’t happen again until 2017.
18. Trebek roasts a contestant
In 2016 a contestant called Susan Cole tried to sell Trebek on a musical genre called “nerdcore.” According to her it was, “people who identify as nerdy rapping about the things they love: video games, science fiction, having a hard time meeting romantic partners…” Trebek quipped, “Losers, in other words.” Ouch!
17. “Let’s Rap, Kids!”
Perhaps surprisingly, Trebek was pretty into hip-hop. Every so often on Jeopardy! he’d rap, and it was amazing. During a 2017 episode with a category called “Let’s Rap, Kids!” he took it upon himself to cover Kanye West, Drake, Lil Wayne and more. He said he hoped he wouldn’t be hearing from West afterwards, but who knows, the rapper might have liked it. Everyone else did.
16. A contestant pays tribute
In one January 2020 episode, a contestant named James Holzhauer wrote out a tribute to Trebek as one of his answers. He wrote “Who is the GHOST? (Greatest Host of Syndicated TV) Alex Trebek.” But he’d had some fun with it as he’d written Pat Sajak’s name first and then crossed it out. It was both touching and completely hilarious.
15. Trebek appears on Conan
Conan O’Brien had a bit on his show called “Alex Trebek Has Gone Insane” where he randomly edited together bits of Trebek footage with hysterical results. But in 2014 it seemed Trebek wasn’t taking it lying down anymore. He popped up on the show and this time he had an edited video… of Conan.
14. Someone forgets Trebek’s name
How could you possibly get Alex Trebek’s name wrong? But one Jeopardy! announcer managed it by introducing the host as “Glenn Trebek.” Even so, the host was totally cool about it, telling the audience his stand-in was named Glenn, so that was the source of the confusion. He added that his announcer had “made a mistake for the first time in 16 years.”
13. Trebek jokes about how he got the job
In 2017 the website Business Insider spent a whole day interviewing Trebek behind the scenes of his show. At one point journalist Graham Flanagan asked him how he’d gotten the Jeopardy! job. Trebek answered, “They phoned me one day and said, ‘We’re bringing Jeopardy back on the air, we’d like you to host it.’ I said, ‘Will you pay me?’, they said ‘Yes,’ I said, ’Okay, I’m your man.’”
12. Trebek calls a contestant a groupie
During the 2010 College Championship Trebek met a contestant who wanted to be a rock journalist, leading Trebek to jokingly label her a “groupie.” This was a rare example of a Trebek joke completely failing to land, and he caught some heat from it. The woman in question confirmed in a post that she did greatly enjoy her time on the show, though.
11. A contestant writes Trebek’s name backward
Trebek once appeared on the cartoon Family Guy, voicing a parody of himself. That animated Alex Trebek could be banished to the Fifth Dimension by writing his name backward… So of course, one contestant just had to try this on Jeopardy! Trebek pretended not to understand the joke and remained in this dimension.
10. A contestant talks about Trebek’s impact
After Trebek passed away pre-taped episodes of Jeopardy! continued to air. One of them was very special indeed, as a contestant called Burt Thakur stopped to tell Trebek how much he meant to him. Brushing away tears, Thakur said he’d learned English because of Trebek. The emotional look on the host’s face said it all.
9. Trebek does some mime
Trebek developed his own football category for Jeopardy! It involved him miming out referee signals and contestants had to guess what they were. It was all pretty funny, especially since the official Jeopardy! social media posted some pics of Trebek’s carefully drawn signals and questions. The host had super neat handwriting too, but did anyone expect anything else?
8. A contestant might have been in a cult
Trebek got more than he bargained for when he chatted to a contestant in 2012. She was part of “the Order of the Blessed Saint Scully the Enigmatic.” This was “a cyber-abbey devoted to the wisdom of the character of Dana Scully from The X-Files,” apparently. But, she admitted, “some people would call it an internet cult.” Trebek, who had seen it all by this point, simply commented that hey, he’d been on The X-Files once.
7. Trebek talks about his wife
Trebek’s wife, Jean, was by his side as he fought cancer. In an interview for Good Morning America in July 2020, Trebek teared up as he spoke about her. Jean, he said, “has so much goodness in her that she is always giving out, always putting out to help me get over difficult moments…I’m just in awe of the way she handles it.”
6. “What are THOSE?”
There are plenty of meme references on Jeopardy! In November 2016 a teen called Sabrina couldn’t think of an answer during the show, so she just wrote, “What are THOSE?” a reference to a hugely popular internet meme at the time. Trebek didn’t get it — or maybe just pretended not to. Either way, he said the line, and Twitter went nuts.
5. Trebek forgets the name of his own show
Yep, Trebek was on quiz shows before Jeopardy! came along. Unfortunately, his memory failed him when he had to relay the question, “In July of 1973 this game show, my first in America, debuted on NBC,” on Jeopardy! Not only did the contestants not know it, Trebek didn’t either. He thought it was called “The Wizard of Oz” when actually it was “The Wizard of Odds.” Oops.
4. Trebek raps the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air song
Maybe if the game show thing hadn’t worked out, Trebek could have become a rapper instead. In 2015 he gave a clue about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and did the theme song flawlessly, rapping “I pulled up to the house around seven or eight, and I yelled to the cabbie ‘Yo Homes! Smell ya later!’” to an absolutely delighted audience.
3. No-one knows anything about football
Sometimes there’s a fail so epic it goes down in Jeopardy! history. This was the case for three unfortunate contestants named Justin, Ryan and Sara back in 2018. They knew nothing about the sport and were left to stand around awkwardly at the questions. Trebek quipped sarcastically, “I can tell you guys are big football fans.”
2. A contestant references SNL
One contestant came on Jeopardy! with a specific goal in mind and oh man, she was going to achieve it. Talia Lavin wrote, “What is the love ballad of Turd Ferguson?” for one of her answers, just so Trebek would finally say the SNL joke name on air. He did! Oh, and Lavin included a message for her mom too. Aww!
1. Trebek’s first ever episode
Trebek first started presenting Jeopardy! all the way back in 1984. Back then it was fast, frantic, full of interruptions, and Trebek had a mustache. But obviously, that version of the show had enough of a spark to continue on for decades afterward. Even legends have to start somewhere, after all.