2 Minute Drill is an ESPN game show based on the general knowledge UK game show Mastermind. The program aired from September 11, 2000 to December 28, 2001. ESPN Classic currently airs reruns of the series daily at 11:30 AM Eastern.
Kenny Mayne hosted the show, and began each player's turn at the front game by telling them, "Your 2-Minute Drill Begins Now!".
Three players competed. The show featured a four athlete/celebrity panel. The scoreboard was an eggcrate display. Sometimes it malfunctioned, such as a transition from a number. (e.g. when a player gets a question correct sometimes a blank digit would show before going to the next number.)
For each contestant's turn, they would be given 2:00 to answer sports trivia questions and would have a choice of 4 categories; each represented by a member of the panel, each pertaining to that panelist's area of expertise, and each containing 5 questions. If a contestant got a question right in any category, they could continue to play it or pick another category, but an incorrect answer or a pass forced them to pick another category (although they could go back to it at any time, provided there were still questions left in it). Each correct answer was worth one point, and one bonus point was awarded if the contestant swept a category (got all 5 right), for a maximum of 24 first round points.
The lowest scorer at the end of the first round was eliminated.
Two players competed as opposed to three. This time, the scoreboard was computerized to match the on-screen graphics, and the current question and answer would be shown to the home viewers who were playing along. To accommodate this, players could no longer interrupt during the question, and must wait for the question to be completely read before answering.
For each contestant's turn, again, they would be given 2:00 to answer sports trivia questions from 4 categories. This time, however, contestants would pick an athlete/celebrity, and they would read all of their questions (in their entirety), regardless of whether or not the contestant missed or passed one along the way. The contestant could only select another celebrity after the current celebrity's questions were completed. In addition, each category had only 4 questions in it as opposed to 5, but bonuses were still awarded for sweeping a category; 20 points was the maximum possible first round score.
Because there were only two players, nobody is eliminated at the end of the round.
In the second round, the contestants faced a rapid fire series of general knowledge sports trivia questions from the panel for two minutes. One at a time, each panelist asked a question and the contestant had to wait for a question to be completed before they could answer. In season one, the panel included host Kenny Mayne, who sat in the center position at the panel desk. When the show made its aforementioned aesthetic changes for season two, Mayne got his own desk and sat to one side of the panel; he thus ceased to be an active part of the front game (as in, he no longer asked any of the questions).
Whoever had the highest score after this round won $5,000 in cash, an "ESPN Experience", and advanced to the bonus round for a chance to double the money to $10,000.
The winner would get a question (usually with more than one part) in a category that they chose as their area of expertise (usually a specific sports team of the past or single athlete). In the second and third seasons, Mayne called it the "Question of Great Significance." Answering it correctly doubled what they won in the front game.
Also in the second and third seasons, to heighten the dramatic effect for the question, every light in the studio was turned out except for those focused on Mayne and the contestant, and the panel's table was moved off to the back of the set so the contestant would only be focused on the host.
Each player in 2 Minute Drill was part of a tournament. After all the first round matches were played, the winners plus the highest scoring non-winner advanced to the quarterfinals, with $15,000 and another ESPN Experience going to the winner, with a chance to double it to $30,000 in the bonus round. The six winners of the quarterfinal advanced to the semifinals, with another Experience and $30,000 with a chance to double it to $60,000 given to the winners. The finals involved the two semifinal winners and one wild card entrant. The winner received another ESPN Experience and $50,000, with a final shot to double their earnings to $100,000 in the bonus round; thus making total winnings a possible $200,000 in the event a player gets all their specialty category questions correct. Regardless of the outcome, the Grand Champion also receives a trophy.
When the rules were changed to just a two-player game, the wild-card rules were eliminated.
As long as a player kept winning matches, he/she could continue to play— meaning that, if a contestant was a good enough player, they could potentially win more than one tournament. In fact, Willy Gibson from Columbus, Ohio did exactly that; he won the first and second 2 Minute Drill season championships and was eliminated on a tiebreaker after winning two games during the third season. All in all, he won 9 ESPN Experiences and $220,000 in cash. Nearly all of Gibson's winnings were from match victories, as he tended to struggle with his Questions of Great Significance (Gibson chose individual subjects, Deion Sanders and Eddie George, instead of past teams and thus was given questions with more obscure information). Gibson's second tournament championship aired on September 11, 2001.
The third season premiered on September 17, 2001 in its normal primetime slot but was moved to late nights later on in the run. The final tournament was won by Syracuse University student and current ESPN The Magazine writer Adesina Koiki.