Celebrity Sweepstakes

NBC (ended 1976)


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Celebrity Sweepstakes

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How much faith do you have that your favorite celebrity can answer a question? Does the audience share your opinion? That, in a nutshell, was the basic premise behind Celebrity Sweepstakes, a game show that appeared on-and-off for about three years in syndication and as a daily series on NBC. Two contestants competed (one a returning champion on the NBC version, two new ones in the weekly syndicated version). Before them, in podiums similar to a racetrack, are six celebrities. Host McKrell reads a question, after which members of the studio audience select the one celebrity they believe will answer correctly; the odds of a particular celebrity having the right answer are determined by the vote (e.g., many votes for one usually meant 1:1 odds, while only a few or no votes for another meant 99:1). The contestants also placed their bets (either $2, $5 or $10 from an initial bankroll of $25, later upped to $50) on the one celebrity they believe will have the right answer. Once the bets and odds were revealed, McKrell asked the celebrities for their answers. Contestants who were right in their judgement won money based on their bets (e.g., betting $10 on someone who had 8:1 odds won $80); otherwise, they lost the amount of their wager. At times, the minimum wager was waived and the contestant could bet everything up to $10 of their bankroll; if the bankroll dropped below $10, the contestant was limited to $2 bets. During the "Homestretch Round" – played near the end of the game after about 15-18 questions were played – contestants could double their wager by picking a second celebrity whom they believed had the right answer (if they so chose). For the day's final question – the "All or Nothing Round," contestants were allowed to choose a celebrity and bet either their entire bankroll or play it safe and bet nothing. The odds were revealed only after the wagers were placed, with awards paid out as appropriate. All contestants kept their winnings; the day's top cash winner in the daily version was champion and returned the next day. 3-time winners won a new car and retired undefeated after 5 wins. The winner in the syndicated version won a bonus prize. Celebrity Sweepstakes lived an interesting on-and-off again life on both NBC and in syndication. The series first appeared on NBC on April 1, 1974, which ran until its cancellation on October 1, 1976. The syndicated show appeared during the 1974-1975 season and again during the 1976-1977 season. After that, it was gone for good.moreless