The Joker's Wild
Hosts: Jack Barry
Announcers: Johnny Jacobs
CBS mornings, Monday-Friday
Premise: Two contestants spin the wheels and answer questions.
Here are the various combinations of categories and Jokers that could appear on the wheels:
The contestant could take any category appearing on the wheels and win $50 for a right answer.
The contestant can match the Joker to either category for $100, or take the pair for $100. If a Joker is on the board, it may be used for any category off the board. If there is no Joker, the contestant may also take the single category on the board for $50. In the first case, if you don't like History or Football very much, you could use that Joker for any of the three other categories being played in that game. In this case "Going off the board" would be worth $50 for the one Joker.
All jokers and a category card (or two and a single joker) Worth $200, or $150 for the first weeks of 1972.
Someone who is very lucky and spins three of the same category must play that question for $200. The contestant either wins a bonus prize not affecting the outcome of the game, or wins a growing jackpot of prizes, depending on when in the run it happened.
TRIPLE JOKERS (JOKER'S WILD!):
The namesake of the show, and what every contestant hoped to get. In the very early days of the program (a few weeks in 1972), a contestant who got three Jokers would win the game right there. After the change, the contestant would pick any of the five categories in play that day, and listen to a question. A right answer won the game right away, a wrong answer here meant the opponent could not steal.
After picking their category and value, the contestant would listen to a question read by the host. The contestant had four seconds to give the right answer in order to claim the cash. If the spinner could not do so, the opponent got the same four seconds to answer, except when the spiner got three Jokers. After the play was resolved, the opponent got to spin.
The contestants would trade spins and questions until one of them reached the $500 goal. If the first spinner reached $500 first, the second would always get a final spin; even if three Jokers or a Fast Forward card would be needed to reach the goal. If the resulting spin could not let the second player tie or catch the other, the game ended.
The game ended when one player had reached at least $500, and had more money than the opponent. If there was a tie at $500 or more, more rounds would be played until that tie was broken.
The winner of the game would keep the money posted, get to play the bonus game, and return to face a new challenger. The loser would win parting gifts, and if an outgoing champion, whatever had been accumulated.
Five time winners on "Joker's Wild" also won a brand new car; typically a Buick or Eagle model worth roughly $5,000 at the time.
The very first bonus game lasted for a few months in 1972. The champion spun the wheels and a prize shows up in each window.
|STEREO||CASE OF M&Ms ||RECLINER|
The player could take the prizes that were showing and end the bonus game, or spin again. If the champ passed on the first spin, he had to take the new prize assortment, even if it was:
|BALL OF TWINE ||GREETING CARD ||FAKE PEARLS|
For the first two shows, some prizes had circles around them, and if all three wheels had circles, a car (Chevy Chevelle, $3100) was won.
On the third show, the car was moved to window three, and the circles were gone. The car was even won on that third show.
The Joker's Jackpot
After the bonus spins, the player could either continue to play or retire. If a returning champion lost a game, all of his or her money was put into the Joker Jackpot. The Jackpot started at $2,500 and grw until someone won when someone won four games in a row. The first Joker's Jackpot was worth $14,500. Champions retired after winning a Jackpot.
Over time, the Joker's Jackpot requirement was lowered to only three games, and even later the structure changed. Contestants now won a cash pot and new car for every three victories, but stuck around until winning $25,000, at which point they retired. The CBS winnings limit at the time was $25,000.
BONUS GAME, 1977-1986: The game most frequently seen gave the champion the chance to win over $1000 and a prize package. The wheels now contain $25-$100, $150, $200 prizes and the devil. If money only appears on the wheels; the contestant may keep all bonus money accumulated and quit, or spin again. The devil took all the money away, but $1000 or a Natural Triple on the wheels won the game, the money, and the prizes.
NATURAL TRIPLE JACKPOT: On Bill Cullen's run, if any player spun three of a kind, no jokers; the game stopped momentarily to give the player the jackpot. This built by one prize per day until hit, and it got over $13,000 at the rate of $500 a day. Shows how rare a triple is this way.
THE MILLION DOLLAR TOURNAMENT
In 1980, "The Joker's Wild" invited sixteen of their biggest winners (from only the syndicated version, likely) to play in a tournament for $1,000,000 in prize money; half of which was given to charities. Games were played for points and not dollars, there was no bonus game, and if you lost, that was it for you. The prizes climbed thusly:
8 First-round losers: $15,000
4 Quarter-finalists: $25,000
2 Semi-finalists: $40,000
The Runner-up: $200,000
The Champion: $500,000
The finals was a best of five affair between Cassandra "C. D." Dooley ($20,000 in winnings) and Rob Griffin ($21,900). Rob won three straight games, most of which by virtue of better spins. The March of Dimes received $250,000; and Big Brothers/Big Sisters got $100,000.