Harman Patil (Editor)

Illinois Instant Riches

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Created by
Country of origin
United States

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Number of seasons

Number of episodes

Game show

Score Productions

No. of seasons

First episode date
9 July 1994

Presented by
Program creator
Jonathan M. Goodson

Illinois Instant Riches httpsiytimgcomviyqkJFg3zigkhqdefaultjpg

Narrated by
Bill BarberTony Russell

$100 - 000 Fortune Hunt, Animal Rescue, Game show, The Charles Perez Sh, Missing

Illinois instant riches v1

Illinois Instant Riches (later known as Illinois' Luckiest) is 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 as his co-host and Bill Barber as announcer.


The show was produced by Mark Goodson Productions (later Jonathan Goodson Productions), and premiered on July 9, 1994. The show was renamed Illinois' Luckiest in 1998 and aired until 2000.

For contestants to appear on the show, they must have bought an Illinois Instant Riches/Illinois' Luckiest scratch-off ticket from an Illinois Lottery retailer. If they uncover three TVs, then the ticket is sent in to the given address.

Players were randomly chosen from those tickets to be in the show's contestant pool, but only a certain number of them would be selected to play an on-stage game.

Several of the games on this show were transported to and from some other lottery game shows, most notable, Flamingo Fortune (Florida), Bonus Bonanza (Massachusetts), and NY Wired (New York); the differences are mentioned in this article. Elements from these games also carried over to the current quarterly-based Michigan Lottery game show Make Me Rich.

Rules (Illinois Instant Riches)

Fifteen contestants were in the contestant pool. 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.

During a special remote broadcast from Arlington Race Course in 1997, the selection and bonus rounds were modified. Random numbers were drawn to choose contestants, pulled from the same kind of machine used for their lottery drawings. Also, the original bonus game, Knockout, was played in place of the current (at the time) game, Pot O'Gold, and modified its format to account for the returning champion.

Flamingo Fortune and Bonus Bonanza used the same wheel procedures, but with different ways to show whom the wheel picked, and with a different number of players. Flamingo Fortune used 30 players, in 3 groups of 10, and a TV screen that showed the person's name and face. Bonus Bonanza used 27 players, in 3 groups of 9, and used a spotlight that the wheel was hooked to.

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 "Wipe Out".

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

At this point, another "Wipe Out" was placed over the amount from swing #2 (or, if the contestant did "Wipe Out", 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 "Wipe Out" 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, but hitting a money space added the money total to their total. Maximum payoff is $127,000.

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

Contestants 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). Before the game, 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), to determine the jackpot value for the yellow player. If the yellow player finished first, the contestant won the jackpot value.

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. Host Goodman often made jokes about the players going on strike when the game changed themes. On a 1994 episode that marked the first time the game was played as Touchdown, he said, "We used to have baseball players. They went on strike; we got rid of them! Boom! They're gone!"

For the first few episodes on which it was played, the orange player was worth only $1. It quickly became $1,000.

Flamingo Fortune renamed this game Grand Prix after the Daytona Grand Prix in NASCAR. There was a red, yellow, and blue car used. The red car earned the contestant $5,000 if it won the race. The yellow car earned the contestant $25,000 if it won the race. If the blue car, labeled "Grand Prize", won the race, the contestant would choose from one of cards (A, B, C, or D). Two cards hid $50,000; the other two hid $100,000.

NY Wired renamed it Saratoga after Saratoga Springs, home to a famous horse track, using red, yellow, and blue horses, much like the Home Stretch variant on IIR. The red horse won $10,000, yellow, $20,000 and blue (labeled "Big Purse"), either $40,000 or the growing jackpot. Like IIR, the contestant chose from a series of cards to determine the value for the blue horse, but unlike IIR, it took four on a match to determine the winning value.


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 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.

This was known as Danger Ball on Bonus Bonanza in Massachusetts. The rules and payout were the same as in Illinois, only contestants did not have to pull a ball from the container to establish a "base" color; instead, they told host Brian Tracey and co-host Dawn Hayes which color was to be the Danger Ball.


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 daisy-like 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 (originally $3,000, later $4,000) and asked to release the balls by pulling a lever that sent the balls down the funnel and into the center circle at the bottom. If a yellow ball was in the middle, their winnings were doubled. For the second pull, a yellow ball was swapped for a red one, but the contestant's winnings tripled if the center ball came up yellow. For each of these first two pulls, contestants did not lose any money if the center ball came up red.

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 $72,000 (later $96,000).

This game was first used for Bonus Bonanza in Massachusetts. It used the same rules and payouts as in Illinois. The $72,000 jackpot was won at least twice on both IIR and Bonanza.


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 $76,000.

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 were doubled. Otherwise, the contestant lost half of his/her winnings. Maximum payoff is $108,000.

It was first used as Beach Ball on Flamingo Fortune, the only difference being that it used sandcastles, plus, the double-or-nothing parts required only two standing instead of three. The prizes were reduced-- $1,000 for each castle standing in round one, $2,000 in round two. Unlike IIR, Flamingo Fortune contestants who survived the third round of six swings were offered another chance to double their money; the catch was that the ball now had to swing eight times. The amount needed to stay standing was still two.

Double Dollars

It is the only game that was played on every episode of Illinois Instant Riches from the beginning of the run up to the format/name change in 1998 (although returned in 2000).

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. The theoretical maximum payoff is $640,000, but this would require that each of a contestant's first three balls land in the same slot, followed by each following ball landing in a new slot.

Bonus Bonanza and Flamingo Fortune both renamed this game Freefall (not to be confused with the game "Freefall" mentioned below when IIR became Luckiest). This was because there was no pegs in between the swinging paddles and the bottom set of pegs above the slots. Thus, the ping pong ball took a freefall towards the slots. The payout was the same.

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.

In 1997, the show traveled to Arlington Race Course. Because for obvious reasons, the Pot O' Gold set couldn't come along, a special version of Knockout was played: the returning champion chose a spot on the arena, and the challenger got the spot directly 180 degrees from it. The bouncing cube was released, and whoever's cylinder wasn't knocked out was the winner. If it was the champion, he won another $20,000. If it was the challenger, he got the cash bonus hiding underneath the spot on the arena, up to $200,000.

This game was later carried over to Bonus Bonanza in Massachusetts as the permanent bonus game, with values from $7,500 to $200,000.


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

The "Pot O' Gold" game debuted in 1995 which utilized returning champions from previous weeks. The returning champion would stand at the end of a path behind a secret keypad with three buttons and a red button. The opponent (the biggest money winner from the current show) stood at the front of the path, with 8 spaces between the two. The first 5 steps were numbered 1-5, the last three had cash.

The opponent could take up to three steps at a time, but the champion was charged with predicting which step the opponent would pick, known as playing a booby-trap. After the opponent took his/her position, Goodman would ask the champion to spring the trap (press the red button). If the opponent dodged the trap, the game would continue. If not, the opponent had to return to their original position. Each step had a yellow light that would turn to a flashing orange whenever the booby-trap was sprung, in case the player hit the trap. If the player avoided the trap, the yellow light flashed, and the orange light would light up where the booby-trap was placed.

Opponents won and took over the championship 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 five coins worth anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000 in $40,000 increments.

If the champion successfully trapped the challenger twice, the game ended with the champion winning an additional $20,000. There was a six-show limit, only achieved once (although one champion won his 7th week during the show's 1996 trip to Arlington Race Course). For the following telecast the next week (in addition to the first time "Pot O' Gold" was ever played), the top two money winners competed. The top winner assumed the champion's while the runner-up assumed the challenger's role.

Flamingo Fortune renamed this game Treasure Island. The rules were the same, except that the "BIG MONEY" step was replaced by a picture of a treasure chest, and the top prize was increased to $500,000 while the bottom prize from the chest of coins was upped to $50,000. This is because there were ten coins to choose from if the challenger won. The $500,000 was won at least once. Blue lights were used to indicate the player's choice, and the booby-trapped step lit up in red instead of orange. The prize was $25,000 instead of $20,000, if the champion successfully trapped the newcomer twice.

Rules (Illinois' Luckiest)

On August 22, 1998 the show underwent a revamp in terms of set, name, and gameplay in addition to Tony Russell replacing Bill Barber as announcer. Eighteen contestants were selected to play three games. Before each round, six contestants chooses an envelope with an answer to a polling question asked to people all across Illinois (Ex.: What is the best food invented in the past 1,000 years?). The 3 people holding any of the top 3 answers continue to play the game.

On January 29, 2000 the show had yet another rule change. This time, there are 25 people instead of 18 (although on the episode Kollmeyer mentioned there were still 18 contestants), and they divide amongst themselves into 5 teams of 5 each. Each team stands in one of the pinball slots 1-5, and whoever's slot gets picked gets to play the next game. Lots are drawn before each game to determine the captain for each game, and it is possible for the same team to play all three mini-games. Teams are not required to pick the same step.


Played during Season 1. The game underwent a rule change to accommodate the new format. Contestants bid on how long the bouncing cube can bounce around a circular table without knocking down one of 2 cylinders on the table. If the cube doesn't knock a cylinder down, the high bidder(s) win money - $2,000 in Round 1, $3,000 in Round 2, and $5,000 in Round 3.

If a cylinder is knocked down, everyone but the bidder wins the money. A $10,000 bonus is awarded to the player with the most money after Round 3, and is split if a tie occurred. Maximum payment, $20,000.


Played during Season 1. A revamped version of "Double Dollars". To start, Goodman launches a ball up a machine similar to the Double Dollars game board from IIR and each of the names of the 3 contestants is in a bag (or the numbers 1, 2, and 3 are printed on balls and placed into a fish tank with water). One player is chosen by hostess Linda Kollmeyer at random. That person launches a ball up the contraption. If the ball lands in one of the 7 unoccupied slots, that person wins $2,000.

Kollmeyer goes back in the bag and pulls out one of the 3 names. This time, if the ball lands in one of the 6 unoccupied slots, the player wins $4,000. Every successive time after a ball has been placed in an open slot is worth an additional $2,000. If a ball lands in an occupied slot, that person's turn is over and all money accumulated is cut in half (or if the player earned nothing, they won $500). Also, one can freeze at any time before they chose to launch the ping pong ball. The player with the most money after everyone is knocked out or has frozen wins a $10,000 bonus. This bonus is split if a tie occurred. Maximum payment $66,000.

The strike sound effect and graphic from "Double Dollars" carried over to "Freefall."

Force Field

Played during Season 1. Everyone starts with $3,000 and wagers their money hoping a pendulum will land on a WIN space. The game is played on a round board with a pendulum in the middle and 10 magnets arranged in a circle on the table. For round 1, 6 areas are marked with WIN and 4 are marked LOSE and contestants can wager up to half their money. If a WIN space is hit, the contestants win the amount of money wagered (and lose the amount if the LOSE space is hit).

For round 2, 4 areas are marked WIN [one is regular, one is WIN x 2 (double the wager), one WIN x 3, one WIN x 4] and there are 6 LOSE spaces. The contestants can wager as much as they would like in the 2nd and final round. Again, $10,000 is awarded to the player with the most money or the money is split in case of a tie. Maximum pay $32,500.

Kollmeyer took charge of this game entirely by herself, similar to what Goodman would ultimately do with the return of "Double Dollars."


Introduced on the 25th Anniversary Special and officially added on January 29, 2000, this game had the players face a board of 18 numbered rods, split into three rows (1-4 on top, 5-10 in the middle, and 11-18 on the bottom), each holding up a colored ball. Rods 1-4 held up two red's and a green, the rest held yellow balls. The captain of the team draws a number, and that number's rod gets removed from the playfield.

If a yellow ball splashes down into the water, the team wins $5,000. If no balls splash down, the team wins $500.

The only way the game ends (besides the captain saying "I'll stop") is if a red ball splashes down. If the red ball splashes down, either by itself or with other colored balls, the team loses half their winnings. If the green ball splashes down without either red ball, the team's total is bumped to $50,000 on the Special, or $75,000 on the series proper (maximum payment $50,000 or $75,000).

This game was first introduced after the cancellation of the Florida lottery game show Flamingo Fortune, which first carried the show. Rules were the same, except the money payout was given to one individual person, and was $1,000 for no ball splashing down, $10,000 for a yellow ball splashing down, and $100,000 for the green ball splashing down with no red ball. A red ball splashing down, even with the green one, still cost players half their money.

Splashdown was renamed Niagara for NY Wired after Niagara Falls. The value was $1,000 (later $500) for no ball splashing down, $6,000 (later $2,500) for a yellow ball splashing down, and the progressive jackpot for the green ball. Red still took away half the player's money.

Vortex IL2

Introduced on January 29, 2000. Same rules as IIR, except the money's split by the team. The team captain is assigned to pull the lever that releases the balls.

The Money Machine IL2

Introduced on the 25th Anniversary Special. The team captain, placed in a money machine with money blown all over the place by jets (similar to the 2002 version of Beat the Clock) has 45 seconds to grab as much lottery money as possible. The lottery money has one $1,000 bill within a ton of $50 and $100 bills. The captain can grab money flying through the air and stuff it into his/her apron, but may not pick up money off the floor. After 45 seconds, the jets are turned off, and the auditors separate the money grabbed from the money left on the floor into two boxes appropriately labeled "Money Grabbed" and "Money Left on the Floor." The team then gets to guess where the $1,000 bill is. If correct, their winnings get bumped up to $50,000. If not, they only win the money grabbed. The money is split by the team members.

When the game debuted on Illinois' Luckiest the rules were different. After the captain was done in the machine, the team had to make a desicion. They could keep the money grabbed or gamble it for $75,000 if they believed the captain grabbed the $1,000 bill. If they gamble and the bill was grabbed, they win the top prize. However, if they gamble and the bill wasn't grabbed, the winnings were reduced to $10,000.

Double Dollars IL2

Introduced on January 29, 2000. Same rules as IIR, except the money's split by the team. The team captain, instead of pulling a lever, presses a button on a signaling button.

The button carried over to the "Double Dollars" spin-off game, "Freefall," described above.

$100,000 Pinball IL1

All 18 players compete in this game. Each contestant steps behind a slot that corresponds with a hole that a computerized pinball can land in. In round 1, there are 3 slots. The contestants who choose the correct slot win $1,000 and advance to next round. The rest are out of the game. Round 2 has 4 slots; surviving this round wins $2,000 and a chance at the $100,000 in Round 3. Round 3 has 5 slots. Everyone who survives all 3 rounds splits $100,000. The pinball machine moved to the start of the game midway through the run.

Pot O' Gold IL2

In the "Luckiest" run, Pot o' Gold was slightly reformatted. The top winner of the show was the defender, and the other players all moved up the road as a team sharing the cash prizes ($10K, $25K, or "Big Money"), depending on how money people avoided the booby-traps. Also, there were only four steps before the $10,000 prize, and the lowest "Big Money" coin was lowered to $30,000. The defender would trap two spaces before the other players moved a maximum of three spaces. Each space had a "railroad gate." If the gate went down, players who took the space were eliminated.

If the defender won, he/she picked from envelopes labeled A, B, or C, winning one of the cash prizes. If the envelope read "BIG MONEY" he/she got to pick from the gold coins.

On the 25th Anniversary Special, this version of the game was played with a guaranteed giveaway of $200,000, so that if the defender won, he/she kept it all to himself/herself, but if the challengers won (depending on how many were left), they got to split it.


Illinois Instant Riches Wikipedia

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