The 10 Worst Game Show Prizes of All Time

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Is there anything worse than a disappointing gift? Besides ebola, we mean.

Is there anything worse than a disappointing gift? Besides ebola, we mean.

DogBadge Writers Rob Fee
Rob Fee is a writer and comedian best known for writing and telling...
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by Rob Fee

Game shows have always been a part of television. As an audience we love to watch contestants compete for a giant amount of life-changing money. Unfortunately not all game show contestants are going to walk away with a brand new life. Some of them would have been better off financially filling out one of those surveys at the mall. Here are ten of the worst game show prizes of all time.

1. Ready Steady Cook

In what may be the worst prize of all, the winner of this BBC cooking show used to win £100, which translates into $154.67, but as the show neared its end in 2007, the winner received a plate while the runner-up was given a mug. Can you imagine having all of your family and friends watch you on a show only to see you walk away with a cup?

2. Crackerjack

This British variety show had an incredible run airing from 1955 to 1984. One of the highlights was a segment called “Double or Drop” where child contestants were chosen from the audience and asked trivia questions. If they answered the questions correctly, they won prizes. If they answered them incorrectly, they didn’t go home empty handed. The incorrect answers were rewarded with cabbage. That’s right, the studio just kept a bunch of cabbage backstage to give to contestants. Every contestant would be given a pencil to take home as well. There are people whose 15 minutes of fame involve winning part of a salad and a pencil. Astounding.

3. Runway

This trivia show was based on contestants knowing facts about the day they were born. Of the three participants, the highest point total would get travel luggage, which isn’t a completely terrible prize. The not so lucky runners-up, however, would leave with a newspaper from the day they were born. What is that, like a .75 value? Thanks Runway!

4. Family Fortunes

The British version of Family Feud boasted vacation and car prizes in addition to the cash you could win. The bizarre prize that went to both competing families was an 8″ x 10″ photograph of their family in a silver frame. The winning team would have a color photo, while the losing family would get a black and white copy. As if losing wasn’t bad enough already.

5. Family Feud

Everyone loves Family Feud but few people stop to think about how awful the prizes are. If you win the “Grand Prize” of $20,000, you now have to split it 5 ways. That means at most you’re going to win $4,000. Even worse, if you don’t get 200 points in the Fast Money round at the end, the most money you’re leaving with is $199! Is it even worth taking a day off work for that?

6. It’s in the Bag

The long-running New Zealand game show would let contestants compete for cash or the option to reach into a bag and claim the prize. Unfortunately not all the prizes in the bags were stellar. Some of the items participants left with include close pins or laundry detergent. Not exactly the type of life-changing prizes the contestants dreamed of winning.

7. High Rollers

This American game show debuted in 1974 and during its run gave away some of the most bizarre prizes in recent memory. According to Wikipedia some of their more notable prizes included African masks, a collection of musical dolls, and a $10,000 fishbowl. The ’70s were a weird time for everyone so I’m sure no one really minded.

8. Let’s Make a Deal

Let’s Make a Deal created the term for a terrible game show prize with their signature Zonk. Contestants would be given the option to choose different doors that had random prizes behind each one. The most absurd “prize” was a goat. You, of course, have the option to surrender your prize and receive something of equal value after the show, but you could leave a game show with your very own goat. Eventually, and understandably, PETA stepped in and eliminated this option. I wonder how many people chose to keep the goat?

9. The Price is Right

While The Price is Right boasts some of the best prizes in game show history, there is a game that could leave you with a lackluster prize even if you win. ‘Any Number’ let’s you pick numbers 0-9 and fills in the price of a car, a secondary prize, or a piggy bank. The piggy bank has 3 digits in it with a decimal point meaning the most you could possibly win is $9.87. Congratulations!

10. Deal or No Deal

If you’ve ever wondered how greedy the average person can become, look no further than Deal or No Deal. This is probably the most well-known blunder prize but it is possible to leave Howie Mandel’s side with a check for one penny. If you think it’s never happened, guess again.


Or maybe it's the other way around?

Or maybe it’s the other way around?

Rob Fee is a writer and comedian best known for writing and telling jokes. You can follow him on Twitter @RobFee to read more of these jokes or go to Del Taco. He’s probably there.

We apologize for that pun. Sincerely.

We apologize for that pun. Sincerely.

Rob previously asked ten weird questions of such Twitter luminaries as Tucker Max and Rob Delaney.

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