As someone who is dedicated to my weekly bar trivia night, I had my doubts about the "geniuses" promised by ABC's new game show, 500 Questions. I mean, game show contestants are a dime a dozen, but are they really geniuses? After watching the show, I can officially say that I'm impressed. Those contestants are really put through the ringer. (And without any multiple-choice questions, no less.) I can see why the series is only a week long. But does that mean, once it's over, we'll never see it again? Will ABC make more episodes of 500 Questions ?
The network hasn't said anything official, but, if it were my turn to be in the hot seat and I had to make an educated guess, I'd say there's more 500 Questions in our future. First of all, the show can't be that expensive to produce — apart from the prize money, of course — because ABC only needed to create a week's worth of episodes. And they did well in the ratings, too. According to TV by the Numbers, the premiere of 500 Questions beat the season finale of The Mysteries of Laura and the season premiere of MasterChef in total number of viewers. And a press release noted that the show had ABC's best summer rating in its Thursday slot since August 2013.
The only thing the network would have to do is round up another batch of geniuses up to the task. I don't know if you've been watching the show, but 500 Questions requires a lot of brain-taxing, intense thinking. Here's how it stacks up against other contests of mental skill, in terms of both mental challenge and possible prizes.
To win, contestants have to answer 500 questions, obviously. The prize money isn't exact: It's around $1,000 per question — provided the contestant gets it right on the first try — but some are $3,000, and there are bonuses for reaching certain milestones. So a rough, rough estimate would say that 500 questions would earn at least $500,000 — and more if the contestant answered perfectly (which seems impossible), and less if they answered more incorrectly without being eliminated.
Million Second Quiz
This 2013 event series was another endurance test: The game was played for 11 days straight — intense! — even when the show wasn't on the air. At least the winner was nicely compensated, bringing home $2,600,000.
Each round has six categories with five clues each, plus the Final Jeopardy! question, making each episode have a total of 61 questions. According to The Mary Sue, if one contestant were to answer all of them correctly, and if the Daily Doubles were spaced for maximum prize-winning capacity, the most someone could win on a single episode of Jeopardy! is $566,400. (You can check their math.) The prize money is theoretically pretty similar to 500 Questions, but with much less effort expended. Still, The Mary Sue noted the single-day record for a Jeopardy! win is $77,000, because those Daily Doubles are never exactly where you need them.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
This one is pretty straightforward: Answer 15 questions right, win $1,000,000. Just FYI, 15 is only 3 percent of 500.
Deal or No Deal?
You didn't even have to answer questions for this one. You just had to be able to count between 1 and 25. If you could do that, it was possible to win $1,000,000.
My Weekly Bar Trivia
At my local pub quiz, there are usually six rounds of 10 questions each — about the same number of questions as on an episode of Jeopardy! And yet, the most we can win is a $75 bar tab (which is not nothing). Still, am I getting ripped off?
So, to all of the geniuses out there, here's a question for you: Which of these gives you the most buck for your (mental) bang? I know which one I'd want to audition for.
Images: Ron Tom/ABC; Getty Images