Reality show winners can be traced winning game shows back in the 1950s. There are over dozens reality show winners who have created great records by winning a large amount of prize money defeating one another. But the real fact is that in the 1950s the prize money uses to be much less than it is won today.
Nowadays, the prize money is exorbitantly large in the amount of cash. At the time when these reality shows had started, Teddy Nadler had set a record of winning a prize amount of as high as $264,00 on “The $64,000 Challenge” in the season of 1956. This record was broken by a naval officer named Thomas McKee after two decades where he was the winner of the show “Tic-Tac-Dough” at a stretch for 43 games.
Finally, the total winnings earned by him was $312,00 in cash with eight cars as extra rewards. Then it was Michael Shutterly who defeated the record of Mckee by winning $500,000 from the show “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” Season One. He was the first one to reach the fifteenth question and choose to quit the game after that. However, it was John Carpenter the first winner of the same show’ second season, winning a prize amount of a million dollars. In this 21st century, the records have kept on changing as contestants have created multiple records
12. Adam Rose
Adam Rose had total earnings of $1,153,908 which he had won in the show called “The Price Is Right”. He won both this cash prize and a dozen prizes.the evening showcase of the show had gone on to let him win $1,000,000 bonus cash prize.
11. John Carpenter
John Carpenter was the first winner of the first original reality show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”. He was the first contestant in the show who had gone on to answer the fifteenth question. Carpenter’s total earnings included $1,000,000 as the first top prize winner in the show. He had also won an amount of $250,000 in the “champions edition” of the show. From this prize money, he had donated $125,000 to a charity.
10. Boston Rob Better Known as Robert Carlo Mariano
He has been seen in a number of reality shows. He is from the city of Canton, Massachusetts. He had become famous with the show “Survivor” series where he had met his lady love of his life, his wife Amber Brkich who eventually won the second season of the same show. He had made participated in the “Survivor” show for four times, which led him to win the fourth season of the show in the year 2011 making his total earnings to be $1,298,410. Next, he participated with his wife twice in the show “The Amazing Race”. They were the runner-up of the seventh season of the show adding $47,500 to his total net winnings.
9. The Millennium Year Winner: Curtis Warren
He was the only contestant who could achieve the “Million Dollar Moment” on CBS’ hit TV show “Greed”. Previously, he had won $410,000 during his participation in the same show, which made his total winnings to be $1,410,000. He has participated in two other shows- the first one being “Sale of the Century” where he won $136,288 and the second show being “Win Ben Stein’s Money” where he won a minor amount of $700. He had his winning moments back in the year 2000 thus, he is known as the Millennium Winner.
8. The Biggest Winner of “Twenty-One”: David Legler
He had broken all records of his predecessors by winning NBC’s show “Twenty-One” which was a re-edition of a popular American show that use to be aired in the late 1950s. The payment structure of the show had been upgraded under which Legler had won six games, making him achieve total winnings of $1,765,000. Even in the year 2017, he remains the highest winner of the show defeating all the winnings of his predecessors and successors.
7. The First Female Winner: Ashlee Register
Ashlee was the winner of the first season of the show “Duels” which was a US game show anchored by Mike Greenberg. It was broadcast for one week continuously for six episodes dated from 17th December to 23rd December 2007. Ashlee has won a total amount of $1,795,00.
6. The Jackpot Winner: Ed Toutant
The show “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” failed to receive a contestant to receive a million dollars. Thus, the makers of the show decided to add a jackpot prize for the participants if everybody fails to win the mega prize.this was the time when Toutant had won the jackpot money of 1.85 million. Later on, he also won a prize amount of $ 11,401 from the show “Jeopardy” making his total winnings to be $1,871,401.
5. The Two Times “Survivor” Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine
From being a simple office assistant, Sandra went on to try her luck in the reality show “Survivor”. She is the only solo Survivor winner who has won both the shows- the seventh season “Survivor: Pearl Islands” and the twentieth season “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains”. Her total winnings amount to $2,000,000.
4. The Prime Time American Show Winner: Kevin Olmstead
Kevin had won a prize amount of $2.18 million in the show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” much before Ed Toutant. This winning had led him to create a record of having won the largest amount in American television for three continuous years. Though, Ken Jennings broke this record later on. He was the only one to have won the largest prize money on an American prime time game show for more that twelve years. Kelvin has also been rewarded with a prize money of $27,000 by the show “Jeopardy!” His total winnings sum up to $2,207,000.
3. The Winner in a Single Run: Andrew Kravis
Andrew Kravis was the first winner of the unique show on NBC channel known as “The Million Second Quiz”, who had won $326,346 from the show’s primary competition round with another three finalists. After this, he went on to defeat these three finalists and won the grand prize of the show $2,000,000 and a bonus prize money of $273,654. He is the only contestant who has won the highest amount of money in a single run of a game show. Previously, he had also won a prize money of $5,000 on the show “Jeopardy” and $50,550 cash in the show “Wheels of Fortune”. His netted winnings amount to $2,656,550.
2. The Highest Winner of “Jeopardy” Show: Brad Rutter
He ranks second in the all-time game show winnings department of the USA. He is the highest winner of the show “Jeopardy”. His winnings include &3,455,102 from the show “Jeopardy!”, the show “Tour of Champions” awarded him $100,000 in the year 2002, $1,000,000 in “Million Dollars Masters” in the year 2002, $2,100,000 in the “Ultimate Tournament of Champions” and lastly he was also the winner of “Jeopardy! IBM Challenge” which earned him $200,000. Like an ideal citizen of the country, he had also donated $100,000 to a charity.
1. The No 1 Winner: Ken Jennings
Though he is second to Jennings in winnings acquired from the show “Jeopardy!”, but, he has earned a large amount of money from other shows which make him a topper in this list. His winnings include- “2,522,700 from the show “Jeopardy!”, $500,000 from the show the “Ultimate tournament of Champions” in the year 2005. He has won a total amount $600,714.29 from shows such as “1 vs. 100”, “Are You Smarter than A Fifth Grade”, “Grand Slam”, which makes him the all-time highest winner on game shows. His total winnings amount up to $3,923,414.29.
Thus, these reality shows in the USA have greatly influenced the lives of common people not only making them rich but also turning them into well-known celebrities. These game shows have actually become a game changer for their lives and status. They can actually live entire life upon the winnings they have earned in a lifetime.