Game Shows Wiki
Mark Goodman
Linda Kollmeyer
Bill Barber
Tony Russell
Illinois' Luckiest.png
Illinois Syndication/WGN Superstation: 8/22/1998 – 10/21/2000
Jonathan Goodson Productions

Illinois' Luckiest was a revamp of Illinois Instant Riches with bigger payoffs and different formats. Most of the minigames from its predecessor were used on the show, with a few other games added.


Contestant Selections[]

Contestant selection was different too. It was used in two formats during the show's run, the revamp occurring on 1/29/00.


Six people (out of 18 in total) were chosen and a basket with six envelopes containing a survey answer were presented. Each player would take one envelope. A survey would be read and each player would then open their envelope revealing an answer. The players holding the top three survey answers would then be chosen.


The Pinball game from the first season's bonus round would be used to select contestants later in the run. For a brief time 18 contestants were still used. Later shows had 25 contestants; they were placed so that five were in each of the five slots and a ball would be released. The players chosen would be in the slot the ball landed in. Players couldn't pick the same step more than once.

The winners of the selections round would then proceed to the minigames.



This was played in the first format. The game underwent a rule change to accommodate the new format. Contestants bid on how long the bouncing cube cold bounce around a circular table without knocking down one of two cylinders on the table. If the cube didn't knock a cylinder down, the high bidder(s) won money: $2,000 in Round 1, $3,000 in Round 2, and $5,000 in Round 3.

If a cylinder was knocked down, everyone but the bidder won the money. A $10,000 bonus was awarded to the player with the most money after Round 3, and was split if a tie occurred. The maximum payment was $20,000.


This was played in the first format. A revamped version of "Double Dollars". To start, Goodman would launch a ball up a machine similar to the Double Dollars game board from IIR and each of the names of the three contestants was in a bag (or the numbers 1, 2, and 3 were printed on balls and placed into a fish tank with water). One player was chosen by hostess Linda Kollmeyer at random. That person would launch a ball up the contraption. If the ball landed in one of the seven unoccupied slots, that player won $2,000.

Kollmeyer would then go back in the bag and pull out one of the three names. This time, if the ball landed in one of the six unoccupied slots, the player won $4,000. Every ball that landed in an open slot was worth $2,000 more than the previous. If a ball landed in an occupied slot, that player was eliminated and all the money they accumulated was cut in half (if the player earned nothing, they won $500). Also, one could freeze at any time before they chose to launch the ping pong ball. The player with the most money after everyone was knocked out or had frozen won a $10,000 bonus. This bonus was split if a tie occurred. The maximum payment was $66,000.

The strike sound effect and graphic from "Double Dollars" carried over to "Freefall."

Force Field[]

This was played in the first format. Everyone started with $3,000 and wagered their money hoping a pendulum would land on a WIN space. The game was played on a round board with a pendulum in the middle and 10 magnets arranged in a circle on the table. There were two rounds.

For Round 1, six areas were marked with WIN, four were marked LOSE and contestants could wager up to half their money. If a WIN space was hit, the contestants won the amount of money wagered (and lost the amount if the LOSE space was hit).

For Round 2, four areas were marked WIN (one was regular, one was WIN×2 (double the wager), one WIN×3 (triple the wager) one WIN×4 (quadruple the wager)) and there were six LOSE spaces. The contestants could wager as much as they wanted in this round. Again, $10,000 was awarded to the player with the most money, and was split in case of a tie. The maximum payment was $32,500.

For the 2nd format, the layout from Illinois' Instant Riches was used with the top amount being only $15,000 and amounts being replaced with a lose half space instead of a wipeout.

Kollmeyer took charge of this game entirely by herself, similar to what Goodman would ultimately do with the return of "Double Dollars."


Introduced on the 25th Anniversary Special, and officially added on 1/29/2000. The players faced a board of 18 numbered rods, split into three rows (1-4 on top, 5-10 in the middle, and 11-18 on the bottom), each holding up a colored ball. Rods 1-4 held up two reds and a green, and the rest held seven yellow balls. The captain of the team would draw a number, and that number's rod was removed from the playfield.

If a yellow ball splashed down into the water, the team won $5,000. If no balls splashed down, the team won $500.

The only way the game ended (besides the captain saying "I'll stop") was if a red ball or a green ball splashed down. If the red ball splashed down, either by itself or with other colored balls (even the green one), the team lost half their winnings. If the green ball splashed down with no red balls, the team's total was bumped to $75,000 ($50,000 on the Special).


Introduced on 1/29/2000. This game had the same rules as IIR, except the money was split by the team. The team captain was assigned to pull the lever that released the balls.

The Money Machine[]

Introduced on the 25th Anniversary Special. The team captain, placed in a money machine with money blown all over the place by jets (similar to the bonus games on the 2002 version of Beat the Clock & The Diamond Head Game) had 45 seconds to grab as much lottery money as possible. There was one $1,000 bill within a ton of $50 and $100 bills. The captain could grab money flying through the air and stuff it into his/her apron, but could not pick up money off the floor. After 45 seconds, the jets were turned off, and the auditors separated the money grabbed from the money left on the floor into two boxes appropriately labeled "Money Grabbed" and "Money Left on the Floor." The team then had to guess where the $1,000 bill was. If correct, their winnings were bumped up to $50,000. If not, they only won the money grabbed. The money was split by the team members.

When the game officially debuted on Illinois' Luckiest the rules were different. After the captain was done in the machine, the team had to make a decision. They could keep the money grabbed or gamble it for $75,000 if they believed the captain grabbed the $1,000 bill. If they gambled and the bill was grabbed, they won the top prize. However, if they gambled and the bill wasn't grabbed, the winnings were reduced to $10,000.

Double Dollars[]

Introduced on 1/29/2000. This game had the same rules as IIR, except that the money was split by the team. The team captain, instead of pulling a lever, pressed a button on a buzzer that looked like the hand-held buzzers on Jeopardy!.

The button was carried over from the "Double Dollars" spin-off game, "Freefall," described above.

Bonus Games[]

This bonus round had two formats.

$100,000 Pinball[]

All 18 players competed in this game. Each contestant would step behind a slot that corresponded with a hole that a computerized pinball would land in. In Round 1, there were three slots. The contestants who chose the correct slot won $1,000 each and advanced to next round. The rest were out of the game. Round 2 had four slots; surviving this round won another $1,000 and a chance at the $100,000 in Round 3. Round 3 had five slots. Everyone who survived all three rounds split $100,000. The pinball machine moved to the start of the game midway through the run.

The table was a computer graphic superimposed over a blue field, a common special effect for those times.

Pot of Gold (Format #2)[]

Played similarly to the "Pot of Gold" from Illinois Instant Riches except that its setting was a train motif, the number of spaces was reduced to seven, and all the contestants of the evening played. The top winner of the show was the defender, and the other players all moved up the road as a team sharing the cash prizes ($10,000, $25,000, or "Big Money"), depending on how money people avoided the booby-traps. The defender would trap two spaces before the other players moved a maximum of three spaces. Each space had a "railroad gate." If the gate went down, players who took the space were eliminated immediately. If anybody made it to "Big Money" without getting trapped, he/she/they would then pick one of ten oversized coins, each one of which hid an amount between $30,000-$200,000.

If the defender won, he/she picked from envelopes labeled A, B, or C, winning one of the cash prizes. If the envelope read "BIG MONEY" he/she got to pick from the gold coins.


Main - Edd Kalehoff for Score Productions
Others - Killer Tracks

Freefall/Double Dollars Gameplay - "Full Speed Ahead" by John Hobbs
Knockout Gameplay - "Unleashed" by Brad Smith
Win Fanfare - "Street Knowledge" by Larry Wolff


Like Illinois Instant Riches, this show was also was available nationally as well as in Illinois. The show was viewable over the air in portions of Indiana and Wisconsin, but only residents of Illinois were eligible to participate.


Illinois Instant Riches - Predecessor to this show from 1994 to 1998
The Illinois Lottery 25th Anniversary Special - One Time Special Spinoff from 1999

YouTube Videos[]

A full episode of the show:

Same episode but in one part