‘Jeopardy!’ Producer Wants ‘Great’ Cash Bonus Rule Change That Could Increase Players’ Prize Winnings

Jeopardy! doesn’t introduce new rules to the game very often. It’s a machine that perfected its rules over the course of its long run. However, adding some more rules to the game could ultimately create a bit more engagement with both the contestants and the viewers from home. Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Davies suggested a cash bonus rule change that would give players another opportunity to leave the television show with extra cash in their pockets.

All ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants get paid for playing on the game show

'Jeopardy!' stage that might implement cash bonus. The 'Jeopardy!' game board lit up and the three podiums for the contestants.
‘Jeopardy!’ stage | CBS Media Ventures

Currently, all Jeopardy! contestants do earn money for appearing on the show, regardless of their performance. However, their placement does determine how much money they make. Ever since 2002, every contestant gets the chance to walk away with some sort of cash compensation for appearing on the popular television game show.

Each episode’s winner gets to hold onto their score and transfer it to the next episode. Meanwhile, the second-place player gets $2,000. Finally, the third-place player earns $1,000 for appearing in the episode. However, some Jeopardy! bosses want to see more cash bonus opportunities.

‘Jeopardy!’ executive producer wants to add a cash bonus rule for players who sweep a category

The Inside Jeopardy! podcast episode released on Sept. 19 talked all about the premiere of season 39. Davies spoke with producer Sarah Foss and Jeopardy! alum Buzzy Cohen about the show and some ideas for the future. Davies mentioned that he wanted to implement an additional Jeopardy! bonus cash prize for contestants who successfully sweep an entire column on the board single-handedly.

“I have been thinking about trying out, perhaps in one of our other tournaments this season, experimenting with giving out a cash bonus for contestants who run a category,” Davies said. “It’s a moment in the studio; it’s a great thing.”

Cohen was a bit hesitant about this Jeopardy! cash bonus and understandably had some questions regarding how it would work. “Is this a bonus that is going to affect your game score?,” he asked. Davies assured him that it would be a “separate bonus” that wouldn’t impact the game in that sense. Foss added that it would mean, “Going home with an extra prize from Jeopardy!, with or without a win.”

Additionally, the bonus would only be eligible for those who completed the entire category in consecutive order. Therefore, contestants can’t jump around the board.

The show could also provide other prizes

Cohen continued that the Jeopardy! cash bonus was still concerned about what that would mean for the game. It could result in players approaching the game very differently in hopes of winning the extra prize, which he doesn’t think the producers would ultimately want.

Nevertheless, Davies responded that it would encourage players who are “trailing” to jump into a category and try to aim for something that isn’t just the second or third-placement winnings.

Cohen teased that they should offer other prizes aside from a Jeopardy! cash bonus. He suggested “something really silly,” such as putting host Ken Jennings in the “dunk tank” and allowing contestants the chance to try and dunk him.

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