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"Tomorrow, we'll add ANOTHER $1,000 to that check, bringing the total to $47,000."
Geoff Edwards, Treasure Hunt.

Trope appearing in Game Shows and other contests in which every time the game's grand prize isn't won, something is added to it until it is hit, at which point it resets to its original value. Its use on game shows is largely limited to programs with returning champions, although there are exceptions.


Game Show Examples:

  • All Star Blitz: The Bonus Round jackpot started at $10,000, and increased by $2,500 every time it was not won.
  • Battle Stars: In the show's second run (titled The New Battlestars), the bonus round prize started at $5000 plus two prizes, and two prizes were added each time it was played and not won.
  • Beat the Clock: The "Bonus Stunt" and "Super Bonus Stunt" in the Collyer version. At one point, the Super Bonus reached $64,000, and the daytime jackpot went unclaimed until reaching $21,000.
  • Blockbusters: The standard prize for winning the Gold Run in the Rafferty version was $5,000; partway through the run, another $5,000 was added to the jackpot for every failed attempt. However, the pot reset every time a new champion was crowned.
  • Break the Bank: On the ABC (Tom Kennedy) version, the bank started at $5000 and went up $500 (later $250) each game until it was won.
  • Caesars Challenge: The "Lucky Slot", which came into play during the main game; solving the puzzle immediately upon hitting it added a jackpot to your score. This started at $500 each day, increasing by that amount for every word in which it wasn't won.
  • Chain Reaction: The Canadian version awarded $2,000 for winning the Bonus Round, plus $1,000 for every day it wasn't won.
  • The Challengers: The "Ultimate Challenge" jackpot was initially $50,000 plus $5,000 for every timoe it went unclaimed, then got progressively cheapened throughout the series.
  • Classic Concentration: Partway into the run, the second game of every show had a "Cashpot" on the rebus board, worth $500 + $100 each day it wasn't won. To claim it, a contestant had to solve the rebus with the Cashpot credited to him or her.
  • Eggheads: The jackpot starts at £1,000. If the challengers lose, the prize on the next episode is the prize of this episode + £1,000. If they win, it reverts to £1,000 for the next episode.
  • Family Feud: Established during Tournaments of Champions, any money won during successful Fast Money attempts is added to the pot.
  • Gambit: If either couple got 21, they won a jackpot that started at $500 and went up $500 per day ($500 per match on the NBC Las Vegas version).
  • Greed: Originally, the $2,000,000 grand prize was increased by $50,000 for every game in which it was not won. When the show became Greed: The Series, the jackpot stayed at a flat $2,000,000.
  • Hollywood Squares: The Secret Square on the NBC daytime/1998 syndicated version. On the NBC daytime show, the jackpot (of merchandise prizes) started at $1,000 -- later, $2,000 -- and rose by somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 for each day that it wasn't won. The Bergeron syndicated version started an accruing "Secret Square" during the second season, usually with a trip or gift card, and added a prize each day until claimed.
  • Hot Potato: The jackpot started at $5,000 and increased by that amount until it was won or new champions were crowned.
  • Jackpot: The entire point. Contestants built the Jackpot themselves based on the dollar amounts of the riddles selected; answering the Jackpot Riddle correctly won it.
  • The Jokers Wild: Several over the course of the run.
    • The original "Joker's Jackpot" was used during the first year of the 1972 CBS run. A cash bonus was awarded to a three-time champion, with the jackpot starting at $2,500 and increasing through having defeated champions forfeit their cash winnings to the Joker's Jackpot (usually this was $500-$1,000 per "deposit").
    • Sometime during the latter years of the syndicated run, a "Natural Triple Jackpot" was instituted, starting with a prize of about $1,000 and increasing by anywhere from $300 to $1,000 until claimed.
  • Lingo: The last couple of seasons during the Woolery run offered one for making a Lingo on the first draw during Bonus Lingo. It started at $10,000 and increased by $1,000 for every day it was not won.
  • Now You See It: During the Narz run, a Solo Round win was worth $5,000 plus $1,000 for every game it was not hit; the Henry version offered $5,000 plus another $5,000 for every day it wasn't won.
  • Password: From 1981-89, the Bonus Round was worth $5,000 plus that amount for every game it was not won.
  • Play the Percentages: Different, depending on the week and sometimes the day the show was aired.
  • Pointless: Adds £1,000 to the jackpot for every show it isn't won, and £250 for every answer worth zero.
  • Pyramid: $20,000 had a weird setup — your first trip to the Winner's Circle was worth $10,000, your second $15,000, and every attempt thereafter $20,000. Since you were retired if you lost in the maingame or won in the Winner's Circle, the only way to win the top prize was to lose the bonus round twice, whether accidentally or on purpose, before eventually winning it.
  • Sale of the Century: The cash bonus available in the "shopping" endgame, and later the "Instant Cash" segment. Both increased by $1,000 per day. On the Australian version, the Cash Jackpot increased by $2,000 per day.
  • Scrabble: When the Bonus Sprint was added, it was originally worth $5,000 plus $1,000 for every day it wasn't won. When the show came back in 1993 it began at $1,000, and the only way to add to it was solving the puzzle immediately after hitting a bonus square (money here formerly went straight to the contestant).
  • Split Second: In the Kennedy version, winning a car also won a jackpot that started at $1,000 and increased by $500 (originally $200) every day it wasn't won.
  • Talkabout: Winning five games in a row also won a team the "Grand Game" jackpot.
  • Treasure Hunt: Instead of a flat $25,000, finding the check in the 1980s revival was worth a growing jackpot that started at $20,000 and increased by $1,000 for every day it was not won until it hit $50,000, at which point it "froze" until someone claimed it. For a short time, the jackpot stayed at $20,000 after a contestant found the check on the fourth episode.
  • Wheel of Fortune: The Jackpot wedge in Round 1, which starts at $5,000 and has the value of each spin added to it. To claim it, the contestant must hit the Jackpot wedge, call a correct letter and then solve the puzzle. Before that, the daytime version had a more conventional Jackpot from 1986 to 1988, which started at $1,000 and increased by $1,000 each day until won; this one just had to be hit.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: Having suffered a long drought of no million-dollar winners, the ABC version eventually started adding $10,000 to the grand prize every time it wasn't won, including the 71 days between the last million-dollar winner and the date the jackpot was first offered.
  • Wordplay: Winning the Double Definition Bonus Round was worth $5,000 plus $2,500 for every day it wasn't won.

Game Show Subversions:

Some shows, instead of increasing the jackpot, gave a returning champion some sort of an advantage if s/he made it to the Bonus Round again. This most commonly took place if the prize in said bonus round was non-monetary (most often a car).

  • Caesars Challenge: With the first format, every day you had been on the show earned you a free placed letter in the word.
  • 'Classic Concentration: The base bonus round time was 35 seconds; every time the car was not won, five seconds were added to this until the car was won (the highest bonus round time was 75 seconds).
  • Dream House: In the Eubanks bonus round, for each day the champions were on the show (starting with the second day), a digit that was not in the three-digit combination of the electronic lock (that would open the "Golden Doors" to the grand prize) was removed. (For example, a three-day champion couple would have two digits removd at the outset).
  • The Hollywood Squares: On the Davidson version, a returning champion's odds of winning the car increased by one, since the car(s) picked on previous shows were eliminated.
  • The Magnificent Marble Machine: The target score started at 15,000 points, and was reduced by 1,000 points for every day it wasn't reached.
  • Split Second: In both the Kennedy and Hall versions, the odds of winning the car increased with every victory by the returning champ.

Non-Game Show Examples:

  • Pretty much any arcade game that awards tickets has a jackpot available for completing some extreme in-game task.
  • The majority of casino and lottery games are built around these.
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