The Block’s Darren and Deanne’s place sold for $835,000 above reserve and they also took home $100,000 in prize money. Photo: Martin PhilbeyBetween them the four couples on The Block Triple Threattook home $3,165,000 from the sale of their South Yarra properties.
It is an amount that Nine claims is the biggest sum of money given away on a single episode of TV anywhere in the world, ever.
It’s quite a claim, and one that ABC Fact Check will surely make it top priority to dissect in the coming days.
But how do Melbourne’s Darren and Deanne Jolly rank in the pantheon of Australian game show winners?
1) $2,000,000 – Simon and Jules, The HotHouse, 2004
This show involved 14 couples renovating a Queensland island dream home, getting eliminated one by one until only two people remained. Their prizes included the titular house, two cars and a boat. A second season did not eventuate. YouTube seemingly bears no record of the show’s existence.
2) $1,016,000 – Andrew Skarbek, Million Dollar Minute, 2015
Andrew Skarbek became the biggest single game show winner in Australian history after correctly answering the question “”The Burke and Wills expedition left Melbourne in which year?” He credited his lifelong habit of reading The Age (among other things) as the key to his wide range of general knowledge.
3) $1,000,000 – Rob Fulton, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, 2005
Fulton became the first person to win the million, more than six years after the Eddie McGuire-hosted show debuted in Australia.
For his final question, Fulton was asked which popular ’60s TV show premiered first: Bewitched, Get Smart, Hogan’s Heroes or I Dream of Jeannie.
4) Martin Flood, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, 2005
Little more than one month later, the show crowned a second instant millionaire. Flood spent four years studying to boost his general knowledge and developed his own program to help with the dreaded ‘fastest finger first’ elimination round.
5) $1,000,000 – Trevor Butler, Big Brother, 2004
Trevor Butler had to spend 86 days in the Big Brother house to win the $1 million prize, which seems like adequate compensation.
Big Brother was not as generous with the prize money in later seasons, deducting considerable amounts from the $1 million when housemates misbehaved.
6) $935,000 – Darren and Deanne, The Block, 2015
Darren and Deanne’s place sold for $835,000 above reserve and on top of that they also took home $100,000 in prize money.
Their South Yarra apartment sold for $2.29 million at auction.
7) $932,577 – Yolanda Stopar, Temptation, 2006
Yolanda was the revived version of Sale of the Century’s first grand champion and in one episode won by a margin of $100 over her evidently slow-reflexed and slow-reflexed opponents.
8) $857,655 – Tracey Korsten, Temptation, 2006
9) $836,000 – Greg Mathew, Big Brother, 2005
He could have taken home one million, but more than $150,000 was docked from the $1 million because of fines accrued by him and his misbehaving fellow housemates. He fared better than 2006’s Big Brother winner, who found more than half the prize money had been frittered away by the time he returned to civilisation. Mind you that was the year the infamous Turkey Slap incident happened, which presumably was rather costly.
10) $736,000 – Steve O’Donnell and Chantelle Ford, The Block (Season Eight), 2014
These two did okay, but they’re no Darren and Deanne.
11) $701,241 – Rob O’Neill, Temptation, 2005
12) $672,357 – Stephen Hall – Temptation, 2005
13) $664,667 – Joanne Segeviano, The Price is Right, 2005
She didn’t win this amount in cash, but Joanne’s mega showcase – which included a Sunshine Coast apartment, a speedboat and an Alfa Romeo – was worth over $600,000. “Australian television history is made, for ever and ever,” host Larry Emdur said at the time.
14) $663,738 – Brigid O’Connor, Temptation, 2005
15) $638,068 – Sunil Badami, Temptation, 2007
16) $603,002 – Blair Martin, Temptation, 2007
17) $569,747 – Laurie Dennis, The Price is Right, 2004
The second mega showcase win. As well as the obligatory apartment and Alfa Romeo, Laurie also won a gold pen and some bikinis in the showcase. “Another piece of TV history,” host Larry Emdur said at the time.
18) $568,316 – Marisa Tamboro, The Price is Right, 2004
The first of The Price is Right’s mega showcases to be given away, one week before Laurie’s win. “You have been part of Australian television history,” host Larry Emdur said at the time.
19) $535,000 – Dougal Richardson, Million Dollar Minute, 2014
20) $510,500 – Jonathan Maher, Million Dollar Minute, 2014
But nobody in Australia has come close to reaching the $4.5 million scooped up by American Jeopardy ace Brad Rutter, who remains the world’s biggest game show money winner.
And as for the smallest prize ever:
1. 50 cents, several unfortunate contestants such as this guy, Deal or no Deal
Sometimes the briefcases contained $200,000. Other times they didn’t.
But of course, there are some TV game show prizes that transcend crude, materialistic dollar values and lead to much more long-term happiness. So when it comes to the best ever prize there can only really be one.
1. A Game Boy and the chance to run through the maze – lots of 90s kids, A*mazing, 1996ish
There was also something about winning stuff for your school but nobody cared about that. Pity the poor kids who only got that Yoho Diabolo thingy as the consolation prize (those were the ones who clearly didn’t watch the show because they didn’t check behind the cactus).