In 1964, the game show known as Jeopardy! debuted with a simple premise: give players clues stated as answers and require them to respond in the form of a question. For example, if the host said "The best-selling album of all time," the contestant would ring in and respond, "What is Thriller?"
The original version was hosted by Art Fleming, and it aired on NBC from March 30th, 1964, until January 3rd, 1975. Fleming also hosted the nighttime syndicated version from 1974 to 1975, as well as The All-New Jeopardy! on NBC from 1978 to 1979.
Creator Merv Griffin brought the show back in 1984, this time as a syndicated program. Alex Trebek was the first choice as a host, and he's been performing that duty ever since. The latest incarnation has generated over 7,000 episodes, won a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, and become a beloved part of American pop culture thanks to its catchy theme song and challenging subject matter.
When the world's leading manufacturer of slots, IGT, was looking for additional properties to add to its collection of licensed games, this must have seemed like a perfect fit. An ensuing deal led to the Jeopardy slot machine, a casino game that offers big prizes while also capturing the look and feel of the television game show.
This article provides an in-depth look at the Jeopardy licensed slot, from the number of paylines to the bonus features. I've also provided some background information on the show, mainly about Alex Trebek and some of the more notable contestants to appear over the decades.
Jeopardy Slot Machine from IGT
This IGT slot comes in two distinct styles. The first is a console that seats five players around a central screen, and it offers five reels, 30 paylines, and a 15-credit side bet. The second version has five reels, 60 paylines, a maximum wager of 360 credits, and it seats a pair of players around a shared display monitor.
In select jurisdictions, both games are tied to a wide-area progressive network. It's offered at land-based casinos throughout North America, as well as online casinos that offer IGT games.
On either version of the game, the symbols listed below appear on the reels and pay from left to right:
The venerable host of the show. Five symbols pay 2,000 credits, four pays 500 credits, and three pays 100 credits.
An original member of the Clue Crew, this lovely blonde pays 800 for five symbols, 200 for four symbols, and 60 for three symbols.
Another original member of the Clue Crew, Jimmy's symbol pays 800 for five, 200 for four, and 60 for three.
A more recent addition to the Clue Crew and member of the Sports Jeopardy cast, Kelly's symbol pays 800 for five, 200 for four, and 60 for three.
Represents the musical categories on the show. Pays 80 for five, 20 for four, and 5 for three.
Represents the show's questions involving science. Pays 150 for five, 50 for four, and 20 for three.
Represents questions about cinema. Pays 120 for five, 40 for four, and 10 for three.
Represents the contestants who leave the show as winners. Pays 120 for five, 40 for four, and 10 for three.
Only appears in columns two through five. Substitutes for all symbols besides the Bonus.
Serves as a scatter pay symbol and multiplies a win by the size of the total bet. Pays 25 for four, 5 for three, and 2 for two.
Special Features and Bonuses
Here are some details on the various specials features and bonuses that appear in Jeopardy slot games.
Wild Rush Feature
When the Wild Jeopardy symbol appears on a reel, it increases the odds that another wild symbol will appear below it. This can affect an entire column, and it applies to both the base game and free spins bonus.
Jeopardy Board Bonus
If you get two or more Bonus symbols in any position on column three, the Board Bonus is triggered. This results in the following:
- 2 Bonus Symbols – Up to 11 free spins or up to a 6x multiplier
- 3 Bonus Symbols – Up to 13 free spins or an 11x multiplier
- 4 Bonus Symbols – Up to 19 free spins or up to 12x multiplier
The player begins with three picks from the board, with one selection coming from each column in order. If you manage to get a Daily Double icon, then a selection can be made from an additional column.
Prizes on the virtual Jeopardy board include the following:
- Really Wild – The player can choose which column or columns are wild during the free spin phase.
- Just Spin Baby – A number of free spins are awarded to the player.
- X Marks the Spot – The player receives a multiplier, and this is applied to all wins during the free spin phase.
- Wild about You – During the free spin phase, this allows you to determine which symbols are wild.
- Potpourri – Increase the multiplier or add free spins.
If three scatter bonus symbols turn up on the land-based version of the game, a player can unlock the community bonus phase. This experience can be shared by any other player who triggers the same bonus within 10 seconds, and any winnings are divided among the group. The following bonus events are available:
- Final Jeopardy! Free Spins – One of three categories is chosen, and five free spins are subsequently added. These spins can result in multipliers, extra credits, or even more free spins.
- Clue Crew Destination Pick Bonus – Take five passports and place them on your favorite regions within a random country. The regions then reveal hidden prizes, usually in the form of free credits or multipliers.
- Daily Double Bonus – Choose categories, reveal extra credits, and possibly increase winning multipliers up to 32x.
Did You Know? 21 Interesting Facts about Alex Trebek
When it comes to the sometime-mustachioed host of Jeopardy, reactions are often divided. Some see him as an easy-going staple of American television, while others view him as a pompous know-it-all. No matter which camp you belong to, here are 21 interesting bits of trivia about Alex Trebek that you might not be aware of.
Has won multiple Emmy awards in the category of Outstanding Game Show Host.
Notable Jeopardy Contestants
Since more than 7,000 episodes of Jeopardy have aired, a tremendous number of men and women have served as contestants. In the following list, we take a look at some of the most notable.
- Eddie Timanus – The first blind competitor on the show, Timanus was a five-time undefeated champion. His total winnings stand at $89,700.
- Brad Rutter – Has won over $4 million on Jeopardy and never been defeated by a human opponent. Has won the Tournament of Champions, Ultimate Tournament of Champions, Million Dollar Masters, and Battle of the Decades.
- Chuck Forrest – Won the second Tournament of Champions and pioneered the strategy of bouncing around the categories. His total winnings are $222,800.
- John McCain – Before becoming a senator and presidential nominee, John McCain was a one-day champion in 1965.
- Ken Jennings – Has won over $3 million on Jeopardy. Holds the record for the longest winning streak at 74 games. Runner-up in the Battle of the Decades.
- Julia Collins – Her 20 games is the second-longest winning streak in Jeopardy history. Her total winnings amount to $479,100.
- Frank Spangenberg – This member of the NYPD became the first contestant to win more than $100,000 on the show.
- Watson – An IBM computer that competed against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a two-game special event. Watson defeated his human opponents and won a total of $77,147.
- Roger Craig – Holds the record for single-day winnings with $77,000.
- Tom Cubbage – In 1989, he became the first-ever winner of the College Championship. He would later become the first and only college winner to also emerge victorious in the Tournament of Champions.
- Red Gibson – While he would later become the father of actor Mel Gibson and a controversial conspiracy theorist, this American writer won the Tournament of Champions in 1968.
- Rachael Schwartz – In 1994, this attorney became the first woman to win the Tournament of Champions.
Jeopardy ran from 1964 until 1975, and then again from 1978 to 1979. The most successful version, however, would debut in 1984, and it's still going strong as of this writing. Given the popularity of the show and its impact on pop culture, it's only natural that gaming industry leader IGT would secure the rights to create a slot machine adaptation. Available at land-based and online casinos, it captures the spirit of the show while also offering players a chance to strike it rich (without having to answer lots of trivia questions).