Come On Down!
The lights are blazing upon your sweating face, the live audience is squirming in their seats, and Alex Trebek is waiting for your answer. Tick, tick, tick. “What . . . is . . . the Bay of Fundy?” you mutter. Bing! “Correct!” he hollers as you exhale nervously, adding $200 to your score and thanking your lucky stars that you stayed awake during geography class. If you’ve been watching game shows like these from the comfort of your living and saying to yourself, “I can do that,” then give it a go and show the world that you can be the next big winner. Whether it’s a trivia show like Jeopardy! or a game of chance like Wheel of Fortune, the producers are looking for contestants like you.
Different game shows have different criteria for their contestants, and the application process for each reflects that. Most have eligibility requirements that stipulate the applicant not be related to anyone working for the parent company, and not have appeared on any version of the show before. Some shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? choose their contestants from a group of eligible guests at a live New York City taping of the show; they have already completed a written test and an interview process. Jeopardy! requires a rigorous online test and a live audition at their studio in Culver City, California. Contestants for The Price Is Right aren’t chosen at random from the hundreds of audience members at the show’s Los Angeles taping, but are screened beforehand at an interview process.
Location counts: Los Angeles and New York are the best places to be, because most tapings occur in those cities. Out-of-towners visiting those places may actually have an edge, since producers like to have contestants from across the country—if you’re planning a trip to either of those cities, apply ASAP. There are also occasional tapings that occur around the country; Jeopardy! even has a Brain Bus that tours the country looking for potential contestants.
Regardless of which show is your favorite, some basic tips apply. Make sure you watch the show regularly enough to know the rules and some winning strategies. Some experts recommend getting the board game or playing online versions of the show. Practicing public speaking is as important as practicing the game itself—producers don’t want players to freeze up or panic when the cameras are rolling. Just like when applying for a job, little things count, like filling out your application properly and dressing for success. And, as in everything else in life, enthusiasm counts and may be the thing that separates you from the thousands of other people applying for the right to hear those famous words: “Johnny, tell us what she’s won!”
Jeopardy! ( 800/482-9840; www.jeopardy.com). The Price Is Right ( 323/575-2458; www.etix.cbs.com). Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? ( 800/433-8321; www.millionairetv.com). Wheel of Fortune ( 800/482-9840; www.wheeloffortune.com).