Before hosting HQ Trivia, Scott Rogowsky was a struggling comedian living with his parents

HQ Trivia host Scott Rogowsky
Getty Images | Jamie McCarthy

It's been a wild nine months for Scott Rogowsky, host of the popular live game show app HQ Trivia, which launched in August 2017 and quickly built a massive following.

Just a year ago, Rogowsky, 33, moved back in with his parents after struggling to break into the comedy scene in New York City. "When you get started in comedy, you're at the bottom of the totem pole," he tells online investing service Wealthsimple. "Not only are you not getting paid at these open mics. You're actually paying to do them."

Rogowsky, who moved to Brooklyn in 2007 to pursue comedy, was ready to call it quits in 2017 and look for different career opportunities in Los Angeles. "I figured I'd done my time in the New York City comedy grind, and I was headed out to LA, where there's just so much more work," he says. "But I took one last audition in the city — why not, you know? — for a hosting gig on a yet-to-be-launched trivia app called HQ."

This 25-year-old guessed 80% of his HQ Trivia questions — and won over $20,000

He landed the job and became one of HQ's first employees, he says. "I remember my first day. Back then, there were only about seven or eight people in the office and my first assignment was to write some trivia questions. We only had around 1,000 players, but even then I would get recognized in the street."

Today, there are regularly over one million players, and during a special edition that streamed live the night of the Academy Awards, over two million tuned in. Players try to win a share of a cash prize, which has ranged from $1,000 to $250,000, by answering 12 multiple-choice questions.

Even though Rogowsky estimates he'll make more money this year "than I did in the previous seven years, combined," his spending habits haven't changed much. He only allows himself one splurge: renting an apartment close to work.

Besides that, "I'm still shopping at the Salvation Army," he says.

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