|NBC Daytime, January 7, 1974 - September 26, 1975|
|Don Pardo (1974-1975), Wayne Howell (1975)|
|NBC Studio 8H, New York City, New York|
Jackpot! was the game show where 16 contestants were asked to answer cleverly-written riddles in order to win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.
Sixteen contestants competed for an entire week, with one designated as the "Expert", who stood at a circular podium at stage-left. The other fifteen contestants, numbered 1 through 15, were seated in three-tiered bleachers. Each had a special wallet containing a riddle and a varying cash amount or the Jackpot Riddle. The King of the Hill selected a number and the contestant with that number asked a riddle to this player. If answered correctly, the King of the Hill continued picking numbers; if answered incorrectly, the two contestants switched places, with the contestant who stumped him/her becoming the new King Of The Hill.
Riddles on ranged in value from $5 to $200 in multiples of $5. The value of the riddle increased the value of the Jackpot. If the "Expert" selected the contestant holding the Jackpot Riddle (one per game) and answered it correctly, those two contestants split the Jackpot. Depending on the rules or the situation, the King could ask the Jackpot Riddle-holder to be seated and continue the game, perhaps with other bonuses in mind.
Originally, the player who answered the most riddles in the week won a car. This was later changed to awarding a car to anyone who answered all fifteen riddles in a single game. After a week-long experiment in February 1974 (when it was called "The Valentine Riddle"), most games had a "Double Bonus" riddle which, if answered correctly, won the two players involved a trip, usually to somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean.
If the last three digits of the Jackpot amount matched a preselected target number, the King may have a chance to win a "Super Jackpot" by correctly solving a Super Jackpot Riddle, asked by the host. Either the King or the bleacher contestant who asked the question that brought the Jackpot amount to the target number could respond; if either answered correctly, both split the Super Jackpot. Occasionally, the host would notify the King if there was a riddle which would allow the preselected target number to be matched.
At the beginning of the game, a Target Number was chosen and they could go no higher than $995. After the selection of a Target Number, a Multiplier ranging from 5 to 50 was chosen at random (although 15 and 20 were twice as likely to appear) and was multiplied with the Target Number to determine the Super Jackpot (e.g., $500×30 = $15,000). If the Target Number was $995 and the Multiplier was 50, the Super Jackpot was automatically set to $50,000.
The Super Jackpot could be played for in one of three ways. Initially, if the Expert solved a Jackpot Riddle and last three digits of the Jackpot matched the Target Number, the players (whoever asked the Jackpot Riddle and whoever answered it) split the Super Jackpot. Later, the Expert had to answer a second riddle asked by Edwards after solving a Jackpot Riddle when the last three digits of the Jackpot matched the Target Number in order to share the Super Jackpot with the other player. The Super Jackpot could also be won if the Expert chose the player that had the Super Jackpot Wildcard and correctly answered the Super Jackpot Riddle, again asked by Edwards.
The largest Super Jackpot won in the format's history was $38,750, split between two players on January 3, 1975; a radio interview with Geoff Edwards for Blog Talk Radio claimed that there was an NBC episode with a $50,000 win, though this has never been proven.
Beginning on June 30, 1975, the format was altered for the last 13 weeks of the run:
- The Target Number and Multiplier were dropped. Instead, the Super Jackpot was established at random to a value between $2,000-$10,000, far less than what had been offered previously.
- Riddles were replaced with straight yes-no, true-false, or multiple-choice general-knowledge questions.
- When the Jackpot Question was found, the Expert could either try to answer it or go for the Super Jackpot by answering all remaining questions in the game, including the Jackpot Question. If the player missed any of the remaining questions, the Jackpot was reset to $0 and a new Super Jackpot was established.
- In the event that the Jackpot Question was the last one found, the Super Jackpot was discarded.
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While hosting Jackpot!, Geoff Edwards also hosted The New Treasure Hunt. He had to commute back & forth between New York & California for those two shows. Once Jackpot! was cancelled, Geoff stayed in California.
Milton Bradley made only one edition in 1974 as TV Jackpot Game, but with two different covers - one with just the logo and one with a drawing of a female contestant. Other than the cosmetic difference, the game is the same in both boxes the gameplay is more closely resembles the 1980s Mike Darrow format.