Illinois' Instant Riches

Illinois' Instant Riches

Illinois' Instant Riches was a lottery game show airing in the state of Illinois, as well as nationally on Chicago-based Superstation WGN-TV. The show was hosted by Mark Goodman, with Linda Kollmeyer (who still remains with the station doing lottery drawings) as his co-host. The show was produced by Mark Goodson Television Productions (though it was later billed as a Jonathan Goodson Production), and ran from 1994 to 2000. In 1998, Illinois' Instant Riches became Illinois' Luckiest.


For contestants to appear on the show, they must have bought an "Illinois' Instant Riches" scratch-off ticket from an Illinois Lottery retailer. If they uncover three TVs, then the ticket is sent in to the given address. Fifteen contestants were randomly chosen from those tickets to be in the show's contestant pool, but only three of them would be selected to play an on-stage game (similar to "Contestants' Row" on "The Price is Right"). Kollmeyer would spin a wheel that was hooked to lights above each contestant's seat. When the wheel stopped, the player whose seat was lit would play a game, in addition to winning a set of lottery tickets.

The show had several mini-games throughout the run, some of which were designed by Steve Ryan. Ryan has worked for several Goodson-Todman game shows including "Classic Concentration", where he designed the rebus puzzles. He also co-authored the "Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows".


Force Field

A magnet was suspended from the ceiling above a table of 10 magnets arranged in a circle. The magnets had corresponding money amounts: $1,000-$5,000, $8,000, $10K, $12K, $15K, and $20K. The pendulum was placed on a launcher locked on the outer ring of the table, and could be moved to any position along the ring.

Contestants released the pendulum, it would swing, then become attracted to one of the magnets -- the player won the amount of money associated with the magnet. That space was replaced with a "Wipeout".

The contestant then re-launched the pendulum -- ideally, winning more money in the process. If the pendulum landed on "Wipeout", the contestant lost all of the money accumulated in the first swing.

At this point, another "Wipeout" was placed over the amount from swing #2 (or, if the contestant did "Wipeout", it was simply left alone) and another was placed on the lowest dollar amount still left on the table - bringing the maximum total number of "Wipeout" spaces to three. The largest dollar amount on the table was multiplied by 5.

The contestant could either choose to risk their money on one final swing or stop with what they had; hitting a "Wipe Out" would cause them to go bankrupt. Maximum payoff is $127,000.

Home Run (a.k.a. Touchdown, Fast Break, and Home Stretch)

Contesants were shown a board with 3 "players" - an orange player, a blue player, and a yellow player. They were then shown a board of 12 numbered boxes, and asked to call out numbers, one at a time. Finding three of a color ended up the game and awarded the contestant a cash prize -- $1,000 (for the orange player), $10,000 (for the blue player), or a cash prize of up to $100,000 (for the yellow player). If the yellow player reached the goal first, the contestant would choose from one of four cards, each of which hid a different cash amount (one each of $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, and $100,000).

The game motif had a baseball theme, which was changed to a football theme for football season, basketball for basketball season, and a horse race theme for a special at a local race track.


This game had the contestant stand behind a pair of containers that he/she couldn't see the contents of. Each container had three colored balls: red, yellow, and green. The contestant would draw one ball from the container on their right to establish a "base" color. The player was then spotted $5,000 and asked to draw a ball from the other container. Pulling out a different color (a "mismatch") would earn the contestant another $5,000, while failing added nothing. After three pulls, the contestant was offered the choice to stop or try for one last pull. A second ball of the base color would then be added to the mix. A mismatch would triple the money, while a match cost the contestant half of their earnings. Maximum payoff is $60,000.


Contestants were shown 7 balls, arranged in a line -- five yellow and two red. They were positioned at the top of a funnel-like table, designed so that when the balls reached the bottom, they would form a pattern with one ball surrounded by the other six. The object was to have a yellow ball in the middle.

The contestant was given a cash prize ($3,000 - later $4,000) and asked to release the balls. If a yellow ball was in the middle, their cash prize doubled. For the second pull, a yellow ball was swapped for a red one, but the contestant's cash total tripled if successful.

A contestant could stop after two pulls, or opt for a third pull, where there were 4 red balls and 3 yellow ones. If the contestant chose to continue, their cash total quadrupled if a yellow ball was in the middle, but lost half of their winnings if a red ball was in the middle. Maximum payoff is $96,000.


This game utilized a round table, divided into 12 sections. Four cylinders were placed on the table, and a cube was placed in the middle. When turned on, the cube would vibrate and move around the table in a random manner -- potentially knocking down the cylinders.

The contestant was spotted $3,000 and in the first round, the cube was activated for 10 seconds. Any cylinder still standing after that time earned the contestant an additional $1,500/cylinder. The cube was then activated for another 15 seconds, and any cylinders still remaining after this time were worth an addition $2,500.

After two rounds, any remaining cylinders were removed and one cylinder was placed on the table. The contestant could opt to take their winnings or have the cube activated for another 20 seconds. If the final cylinder was still standing after that time, their winnings quadrupled. If it was knocked over, the contestant lost half of their winnings. Maximum payoff is $72,000.

Wrecking Ball

12 buildings were placed on a rotating platform. A "crane" with the wrecking ball was nearby.

The contestant would turn his/her back to the platform and pull a lever to release the wrecking ball. The ball would swing through the platform 6 times, knocking over the buildings. Each building remaining after one round was worth $1,500 - each building remaining after round two was worth an additional $3,000.

The contestant could stop at this point or opt for one more round of six swings. Three buildings were placed on the platform, or if there were more than 3 still standing after round two, they were simply left alone. If at least three buildings were left standing after this round, the contestant's winnings would be doubled. Otherwise, the contestant would lose half of his/her winnings. Maximum payoff is $108,000.

Double Dollars

This game was used in the entire run of the show, and featured a board that resembled the game "Plinko" from "The Price Is Right."

The contestant pulls a lever that will launch a ping pong ball to the top of the board, through swinging paddles, through a series of pegs, and into one of eight slots at the bottom of the board. Landing in an empty slot was worth $5,000. Each empty slot accumulated an additional $5,000. If a ping pong ball landed in a slot that was already occupied, he/she would be issued a strike.

After two strikes, the contestant could stop and take their winnings, or opt for another pull. If a ping pong ball landed in an empty slot, the contestant would have his/her money doubled, and would be offered another pull. If the contestant earned their third strike, they would lose half of their winnings. Play would continue until all eight slots are filled, a third strike is issued, or the contestant chose to stop. Maximum payoff is $640,000.

Bonus Games

The show had three bonus games throughout the run, which involved the three contestants chosen to play the mini-games during the show.


The contestants were positioned around a table divided into 12 wedges. The three contestants would draw numbers from 1 to 12, and have a cylinder placed on that numbered wedge. A toy cube was placed in the center of the table, and turned on for 30 seconds. When it was activated, the cube would shake and bounce around the table in a random manner, knocking over cylinders in the process. If a cylinder was still standing after 30 seconds, the contestant won anywhere from $7,500 to $100,000.


Similar to the children's game KerPlunk, a large container was placed center stage containing 15 balls (roughly the size of basketballs). They were suspended in the top of the chamber by 10 numbered rods. One at a time, each player drew a number from a board, and the corresponding rod was removed from the container. Depending on their position inside the container, some of the balls could fall to the bottom -- contestants were eliminated if they "lost" five balls or dropped the last ball out of the top of the container. The remaining contestant would select one of the numbers he/she had, which contained amounts ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

Pot O' Gold

Starting in 1995, the "Pot O' Gold" game debuted, utilizing returning champions from previous weeks. The champion would stand at the end of a path (the "rainbow") behind a keypad with three buttons. The opponent stood at the front of the path, with 8 spaces between the two. The first 5 steps were numbered, the last three had cash prizes.

The opponent could take up to three steps at a time, but the champion was charged with predicting which step the opponent would pick. If the opponent dodged the "trap", the game would continue.

Opponents won if they landed on one of the last three spaces on the path -- the first was worth $10,000, the second worth $25,000, and the last marked "Big Money". If the opponent ended on this space, he/she could pick from a tray of coins worth anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000.

If the champion successfully "trapped" the newcomer twice, the game ended with the champion winning an additional $20,000. There was a six-show limit, only achieved once.

During a special remote broadcast from Arlington Race Course, the selection and bonus rounds were modified. Random numbers were drawn to choose contestants, and "Knockout" was played in place of "Pot O' Gold".


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