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10 fascinating facts about 'Jeopardy!'

Do you know the name of the theme song or the maximum amount one can possibly win on the popular game show?

On March 30, 1964, Merv Griffin launched Jeopardy! The television industry was not far removed from the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, but audiences were hungry for the clever trivia challenge. 

The game show has run for 52 years in a handful of iterations, briefly leaving the airwaves here and there in the 1970s and early '80s. The addictive answer-and-question series made hosts Art Fleming and Alex Trebek household names. With half a century of history, there are many fascinating anecdotes and details about Jeopardy! Here are ten things you might not know.


1

It was not the first game show to give the answers and ask for the questions. In fact, the first-ever game show did that.

The first live television quiz show, CBS Television Quiz aired from 1941 to 1942 out of New York. Alas, no recordings or images remain from the broadcasts, but the format was similar to Jeopardy! with host Gil Fates providing answers and asking contestants for the questions.

Image: Logopedia

2

The maximum amount of money one can win in a single game is $566,400.

One would have to sweep both boards, find and nail all the Daily Doubles at the max value, and bet it all in Final Jeopardy. That being said, the current record is $77,000, set by Roger Craig in 2010.

3

Someone once won with only a mere dollar.

On January 19, 1993, Daryl Scott, a lieutenant in the Air Force, won a game with a measly $1. Of course, a fictional character once finished in second with a buck but took it quite well…

4

Both 'Mama's Family' and 'Cheers' had 'Jeopardy!' episodes.

Thelma Harper finishes as the runner-up with one dollar and a trip to Hawaii on the 1988 episode of Mama's Family, "Mama on Jeopardy!" Two years later, everyone's favorite Cheers mailman plays his favorite game when Jeopardy! comes to Boston in "What is... Cliff Clavin?"

5

The familiar Jeopardy! theme is called "Think!"

Everyone knows it, and perhaps whistles it while waiting for the microwave. That familiar time-is-ticking theme is titled "Think!" and was composed by series creator Merv Griffin. His wife, Julann, wrote the theme to the 1960s iteration, "Take Ten." Griffin released several albums back in the day, and crafted more pieces for Jeopardy! like "January, February, March" and "Frisco Disco." Griffin once estimated that the royalties from "Think!" earned him about $70 million over his lifetime.

Image: Discogs

6

Alex Trebek's first American game show was 'The Wizard of Odds.'

After putting in work on the CBC, the Canadian headed south to host his first American series for NBC in 1973. Alas, The Wizard of Odds lasted just a year. That show's theme was written and sung by Alan Thicke. Trebek would move on to host High Rollers later that decade.

7

Trebek holds the Guinness Book record for "most game show episodes hosted by the same presenter."

The Canadian, who once worked as a teenage garbage man in Cincinnati, passed Bob Barker to become the king of game show hosts. He set the record two years ago when hosting his 6,829th installment of Jeopardy!

8

The odds of a three-way tie are one in 25 million. It happened once.

March 16, 2007, was a day for the record books. All three contestants finished with $16,000. So make those odds more like one in 7,203.

9

John McCain was a one-day champion in 1965.

Ronald Reagan appeared on I've Got a Secret, but he was a celebrity. In 1965, future Arizona Senator John McCain played Jeopardy! and came up short. He lost on a question about Wuthering Heights.

10

Original host Art Fleming appears in Weird Al Yankovic's video "I Lost on Jeopardy."

Weird Al's hit song, a parody of the Greg Kihn Band's "Jeopardy," broke into the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer 1984 — months before the daily syndicated reboot with Alex Trebek began. Don Pardo, the game show's original announcer, also appears in the classic MTV clip.

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