07 September 2010

Contestant outsmarts a game show

This occurred in 1984 on a program entitled "Press Your Luck."  Michael Larson, an unemployed ice cream truck driver, figured out how to beat the system: 
Watching the show at home and with the use of stop-motion on a VCR, Larson discovered that the presumed random patterns of the game board were not random and was able to memorize the sequences to help him stop the board where and when he wanted. On the single game in which he appeared, an initially tentative Larson spun a Whammy on his very first turn, but then played 45 consecutive spins without hitting a second one. He earned a total of $110,237 in cash and prizes, a record for the most money in cash and prizes won by a contestant in a single appearance on a daytime network game show...
Details of the event are explained in his biography, and time-compressed in the video above.

Found at The Daily Dish.


  1. There's also a segment featured on WBEZ's weekly radio show This American Life which tells his story of rags to riches to eventually becoming a fugitive wanted by the FBI. It can be found in broadcast #412 entitled Million Dollar Idea, Act 4 - "Don't hate the player"

    Here's their synopsis -

    Act Four. Don't Hate The Player.
    Shawn Allee tells a story of the oldest kind of million dollar idea, the scam. Or was it an honest venture? Back in the 1980s Michael Larson made the most money ever on the game show Press Your Luck. And it was no accident. Larson had a plan to get rich that surprised everyone. (18 minutes)

    and here's the link for those who would like to stream this most excellent radio program.


  2. Thanks, talcum. This American Life is my favorite radio program.

  3. I learn about the coolest stuff on this site, I love it!

  4. Esquire magazine did a piece this year how recently a contestant figured out how to beat the Price is Right. The show accused him of cheating, but he just figured out they always use the same prizes. That and a little luck. But a guy in the audience may have helped him, a guy who independently figured the same thing out, and had helped others win prizes. He was banned at the time from ever appearing again.

    "Sharon passed on that Showcase, which meant that it was Terry’s to win or lose. He looked into the audience for a moment, leaned into his microphone, and said his bid as though he were reading it from a slip of paper: $23,743.“Wow,” Drew Carey said. “That’s a very exact bid.” Then Sharon saw her Showcase: trips to Chicago; Banff, Alberta; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Cape Town, South Africa. She bid $30,525. “We’ll be right back, folks,” Carey said. “Don’t go away.”And then the show just stopped."



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