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Game Show Scandals

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The Perfect Contestant

Perhaps the biggest game show scandal of all time, the Twenty-One scandal culminated in congressional hearings, a statement from President Dwight D. Eisenhower that it was "a terrible thing to do to the American people," and ultimately led to the creation of Jeopardy by Merv Griffin.

When Charles Van Doren first appeared on Twenty-One in 1956, he had agreed to a deal where the show's producer would feed him answers. The scheme was intended to bolster ratings of the struggling quiz show, but the contestant he ultimately beat, Herb Stempel, had also been coached by the producer. When he lost, he squealed. It wasn't until nearly two years later that Stempel's story picked up traction when other contestants came forward with similar stories.

Congress ultimately passed a law prohibiting the fixing of quiz shows or any other form of contest. But because the scheme was not illegal at the time it was committed, no one went to prison. The only charges pressed in the case were obstruction of justice and perjury.

Photo: NBC Television | Hulton Archive | Getty Images