Skip To Content

    Contestants Are Forbidden From Bidding $69, Plus 25 Other Behind-The-Scenes "Jeopardy" Facts

    The composer of the theme song made over $80 million from the jingle!

    1. The show was originally pitched with the title What's the Question? because of its unique formatting. However, when a network executive claimed there weren't enough "jeopardies" in the program, the name was changed.

    A 1964 game board from "Jeopardy!"

    2. Jeopardy first aired in 1964 with Art Fleming as the host.

    Vintage Jeopardy contestants with Art Fleming

    3. Alex Trebek took over hosting duties when the daily syndicated version of the show debuted in 1984.

    Alex Trebek hosting "Jeopardy!"

    4. Both Jeopardy hosts died from pancreatic cancer. Fleming died from the disease in 1995 and Trebek died in 2020, nearly two years after he announced his stage 4 diagnosis.

    A screen reading "Dedicated to Alex Trebek forever in our hearts always our inspiration"

    5. The creator of Jeopardy, Merv Griffin, also created Wheel of Fortune.

    People playing "Wheel of Fortune"

    6. Griffin also composed the Jeopardy theme music, titled "Think." He created the 30-second jingle in less than a minute as a lullaby to help his 5-year-old son fall asleep. Griffin told the New York Times he made anywhere from $70 million to $80 million from the tune!

    View this video on YouTube

    Sony Pictures / Via youtube.com

    7. Griffin died in 2007, and his tombstone reads, "I will not be right back after this message," a funny nod to his legendary game show history.

    Merv Griffin's tombstone that says "I will not be right back after this message"

    8. Trebek and Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak swapped hosting duties on their shows for April Fools' Day in 1997.

    Pat Sajak posing and Alex Trebek standing together and each holding an Emmy Award

    You can watch the full episode of Sajak hosting Jeopardy here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Sony Pictures Television / Via youtube.com

    And watch Trebek's full episode of Wheel of Fortune here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Sony Pictures Television / Via youtube.com

    9. Thousands apply every year to appear on the show, but only 400 people are chosen. With a 0.4% acceptance rate, it's easier to get accepted into an Ivy League school than to land a spot on the Jeopardy stage.

    10. Each player films a "hometown howdy." These bite-size introductory videos air on local affiliate stations to promote the contestant's upcoming appearance.

    You can watch some "hometown howdies" here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Sony Pictures Television / Via youtube.com

    11. The production team films five episodes in just one day!

    12. Contestants and game boards are chosen at random to ensure there is no cheating.

    Trebek addressing contestants on the show

    13. Trebek rarely missed a beat, likely because he spent an hour and a half reading show scripts and mastering pronunciations before the show.

    Alex reviewing game scripts before the show

    14. During commercial breaks, Trebek would answer questions from the audience, since he was not permitted to interact with the players.

    Alex talking to the audience

    15. Contestants never knew which of their personal stories Trebek would highlight during the episode.

    16. Players are instructed to arrive at the studio with three outfits because the returning champion will be required to change before filming more games.

    Ken Jennings in three different outfits on "Jeopardy"

    17. If you buzz too early, the game will lock you out for multiple seconds. Ken Jennings told Cracked the game is more about reflexes than speed because each contestant needs to wait for the question to be finished before jumping in with an answer.

    18. The show prohibits contestants from bidding $69, because of its sexual connotations; $666, for its satanic meaning; and $14, $88, and $1,488 because of their white supremacist associations.

    19. Fans can blame the pen and tablet behind each podium for the bad handwriting, which flashes onscreen during Final Jeopardy.

    A Final Jeopardy answer that is just a drawing

    20. James Holzhauer holds the record for the highest single-game score recorded in Jeopardy history, winning $131,127.

    James winning $131,127

    21. And Patrick Pearce holds the record for the lowest single-game score of -$7,400.

    Patrick Pearce standing in front of a podium reading -$7,400

    22. Regardless of their score, losing contestants don’t ever owe money to the show. In fact, the second-place winner walks away with $2,000, and the third-place winner earns $1,000 for participating.

    23. The show has earned four Guinness World Records: Announcer John Gilbert holds the record for the longest career as a game show announcer for a single show, Trebek has the most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter, and the series has the most Emmy Award wins of any game show, in addition to holding the record for the longest-running quiz show of all time.

    Alex Trebek holding a Guinness World Record

    24. Out of 9,200 episodes, only 7 had no winner.

    All three players with $0 on their podium

    25. The Clue Crew, established in 2001, travels to locations around the world in order to provide exclusive visuals for entire categories or individual clues. Sarah Whitcomb Foss and Jimmy McGuire have recorded clues in 300 cities and 46 countries and on all seven continents.

    26. And finally, there are eight writers for the show who produce 230 games a season. For those keeping score at home, that's 14,030 clues!

    Alex Trebek sitting down with writers of "Jeopardy"