Jeopardy Makes Contestants Pay Their Own Airfare, Hotel And Food

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“What is not right for $500, Alex?”

A new episode of the “Inside Jeopardy” podcast divulged some behind-the-scenes secrets about Jeopardy.

Every week fans submit questions that showrunners or previous champions discuss.

This week’s episode had producer Sarah Whitcomb Foss responding about how contestants get to Los Angeles for the tapings.

Fans were shocked to find out that contestants not only pay for their own airfare, but also their own lodging and food. Sometimes that can cost more than the actual contestant’s winnings.

Jeopardy studios (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)


On the podcast, Foss answered that “Our contestants are asked to fly themselves out to Los Angeles for their first appearance.” “If they end up being a returning champion then we do provide travel for them on their return trips out here,” Foss added.

Obviously the winner of each game of Jeopardy moves on. But the consolation packages for 2nd and 3rd place aren’t anything spectacular.

2nd place wins $2,000 while 3rd gets $1,000 before taxes.

I understand the allure of being on Jeopardy and a televised game show, but to not even comp people’s travel is kind of crazy. Jeopardy has been on the air for decades and makes a TON of money. Alex Trebek was making $10 million a year. I’m sure current co-hosts Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik are paid rather generously as well.

Have you seen the costs of airfare these days? You may actually LOSE money if you’re a Jeopardy contestant that doesn’t win the game.

Longtime host of Jeopardy Alex Trebek (Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images)


Two out of three contestants don’t win each game. Unless they’re part of the 18 that are asked back as part of the Second Chance Tournament, they don’t get anything comped.

Some other interesting Jeopardy tidbits –

  • The show tapes multiple episodes in a row for a few weeks in a row. So that means when a contestant wins, they are rushed downstairs to change their clothes, and then get ready to do it all again.
  • Contestants are given about a month’s notice on when they’ll be on so they can get everything sorted (Childcare, housesitter, booking a flight)

What’s wild is that I’ve had my airfare and hotels covered for things that weren’t even close to being a game show contestant. You’d think that one of the biggest branded ones such as Jeopardy could at least throw a per-diem for contestants. Hell, even cover the cost of a pizza!

Jeopardy’s latest season kicked off last month.

Written by Mike Gunzelman

Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.


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