Game Shows Wiki
Brian Tracey & Dawn Hayes
Frank Averue
Bonus Bonanza.jpg
Syndication (Weekly, Massachusetts only): 1/1995 – 3/1998
Mark Goodson Productions (1995)
Jonathan Goodson Productions
Massachusetts State Lottery
Hearst Broadcasting Productions

Bonus Bonanza was a game show for the Massachusetts State Lottery which had pretty much the same format as Illinois Instant Riches, Flamingo Fortune and others.


Audience Selection[]

All audience members wore name tags (a la The Price is Right) but only those that earned their way on to the show by means of a Massachusetts lottery ticket were chosen to be in the contestant's pool. Hayes would spin a wheel that was hooked to a randomizer. When the wheel stopped, whoever's face the spotlight shined on got to play a mini-game, in addition to winning a set of lottery tickets. There were a total of five mini-games available, but only three of the mini-games were played on a given show, and all three contestants involved got to play the bonus game for a possible $200,000.



Contestants were shown seven 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 of $3,000 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 cash prize doubled. For the second pull, a yellow ball was swapped for a red one (making it four yellows and three reds), but the contestant's cash total 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 four red balls and three yellow balls. 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. The maximum payoff in this game was $72,000.

Vortex debuted on this show before it carried over to Illinois Instant Riches; on IIR, the payoff was originally the same as the reduced values; it later was increased to a start of $4,000, for a possible $96,000.

Danger Ball[]

The contestant was given $5,000 to start and shown a container with three balls concealed: red, yellow, and green. The contestant picked one of the ball to establish as the "Danger Ball." The contestant was then asked to pull a ball out of the container. If it was any color other than the Danger Ball color, they earned another $5,000. After each pull, the balls were spun around in the container again. After three pulls, a second ball with the Danger Ball color was added, and the contestant had the option to quit with their winnings or gamble. If they chose to gamble, they tripled their money by pulling out a colored ball other than the Danger Ball color, but pulling out the Danger Ball cost the contestant half their money. The maximum payout in this game was $60,000.

Force Field[]

The contestant released a pendulum over a table, which contained 10 magnets of equal strength. By each magnet was a varying amount of money, ranging from $1,000 to $20,000. After the contestant's first launch of the pendulum, they would win whatever amount of money the pendulum landed on. Before the contestant's second launch, Dawn would replace the dollar amount on the pendulum's current location with a "Lose Half" sign. If the contestant landed on that spot on the second or third launch, they would lose half of their current winnings. After the second launch, Dawn would replace the dollar amount sign on the pendulum's location with another "Lose Half" sign, and then the highest dollar amount remaining on the table would be tripled (up to $60,000) and the lowest dollar amount remaining would be replaced with a red "Wipe Out" sign. The contestant was then given the choice to quit with their current winnings or take the third launch. If the contestant landed on anything other than "Lose Half" or "Wipe Out", that amount would be added to their total winnings. Landing on "Lose Half" would cost them half of their winnings; landing on "Wipe Out" would eliminate all of the contestant's winnings. The maximum payout was $85,000.


The contestant launched a ping pong ball into a contraption that resembled the Plinko board from The Price Is Right. For the first empty slot they landed in, they were credited with $5,000. Landing in each empty slot was worth an additional $5,000. Landing in a slot with an occupied ball earned a strike. After two strikes, the contestant could stop with their winnings, or opt for another pull. If the contestant chose to gamble, they doubled their money by landing in an empty slot or lost half for accumulating their third strike. Play continued until all eight slots were filled, all three strikes were accumulated, or the contestant chose to quit.

Odd Money Wins[]

This was a rarely played game in which three contestants were chosen from the audience pool. Each contestant was given a choice of two dollar amounts, which in the beginning were either $10,000 or $50,000, later changed to either $10,000 or $30,000. The object was to be the only contestant who chose that amount of money.

After the contestants secretly chose their dollar amounts, each one would be revealed, one at a time. The contestant who was the only one out of the three to choose the dollar amount they chose would win that amount of money and advance to play the Bonus Game. If all contestants chose the same dollar amount, they would vote again until there was a winner.

Knockout (Bonus Game)[]

The one bonus game used on the show was Knockout, the original bonus game from IIR, but with $200,000 as its top prize instead of $100,000. Like IIR, the three contestants chosen to play the mini-games were involved, and each drew lots backstage to determine where their colored cylinder would go. In the center of the ring was the infamous cube. 30 seconds were put on the clock, and Hayes would release the cube, which bounced around in a random manner, potentially knocking down the cylinders. If a player's cylinder was still standing at the end of 30 seconds, they won the cash prize hidden under their number where their marker was standing, which ranged from $7,500 to $200,000. The $200,000 was won at least once.


It used nearly all of the cues from Illinois Instant Riches, even the main.

Main - Edd Kalehoff
Others - Killer Tracks

Contestant Selection - "Spike It" by Rick Braun
Prize Ticket Plug - "E Ticket" by Larry Wolff
Danger Ball Game Cue - "In High Gear" by John Hobbs
Freefall Game Cue - "Beat The Clock" by John Hobbs
Knockout Game Cue - "Live Wire" by John Hobbs
Vortex Game Cue - "Robot Or Not" by Al Capps
Win cue - "Street Knowledge" by Larry Wolff

Broadcast History[]

The three television stations that carried Bonus Bonanza were ABC affiliates WCVB-TV in Boston, WLNE-TV in Providence/New Bedford (which was affiliated with CBS between 1977 and 1995), and WGGB-TV in Springfield. Although the show was viewable in portions of southern New Hampshire and in Rhode Island, only contestants from Massachusetts were eligible to participate in the show.


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YouTube Link[]

A full episode from 1996 (with a $72,000 win at Vortex and a $200,000 Knockout win)