Game Shows Wiki
Mark Goodman
Linda Kollmeyer
Bill Barber (1994–1998)
Tony Russell (1998)
Illnois Instant Riches.png
Ilinois Instant Riches 1998.png
Illinois Syndication/WGN Superstation (Weekly): 7/9/1994 – 8/15/1998
Mark Goodson Productions (1994–1996)
Jonathan Goodson Productions (1996–1998)

Illinois Instant Riches was a game show for the Illinois Lottery. This new format pitted people in mini-games. This show would get a major revamp in 1998, as well as its name be changed to Illinois' Luckiest.


Contestant Selection[]

Fifteen contestants were in the contestant pool. Kollmeyer would spin a wheel that was hooked to a randomizer. When the wheel stopped, the player whose picture was stopped at would play a game, in addition to winning a set of lottery tickets.


Force Field[]

A magnet was suspended from the ceiling above a table of 10 magnets arranged in a circle. The magnets had corresponding money amounts: $1,000-$5,000, $8,000, $10,000, $12,000, $15,000, and $20,000. The pendulum was placed on a launcher locked on the outer ring of the table, and could be moved to any position along the ring.

When the contestant released the pendulum, it would swing, then become attracted to one of the magnets, and the player won the amount of money associated with that magnet. After which, that space was replaced with a "Wipe Out".

The contestant then re-launched the pendulum, ideally, winning more money in the process. If the pendulum landed on "Wipe Out", the contestant lost all of the money accumulated in the first swing.

At this point, another "Wipe Out" was placed over the amount from the second swing (or, if the contestant did "Wipe Out", it was simply left alone) and another was placed on the lowest dollar amount still left on the table, bringing the maximum total number of "Wipe Out" spaces to three. The largest dollar amount on the table was multiplied by five.

The contestant could either choose to risk their money on one final swing or stop with what they had; hitting a "Wipe Out" would cause him/her to go bankrupt, but hitting a money space added the money to their total. The maximum payoff in this game was $127,000.

Sports (Home Run, Touchdown, Fast Break, and Home Stretch)[]

Contestants were shown a board with three "players" - an orange player, a blue player, and a yellow player. They were then shown a board of 12 numbered boxes, and asked to call out numbers, one at a time. Finding three of a color ended up the game and awarded the contestant a cash prize of either $1,000 (for the orange player), $10,000 (for the blue player), or a cash prize of up to $100,000 (for the yellow player). Before the game, the contestant would choose from one of four cards, each of which hid a different cash amount (one each of $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, and $100,000), to determine the jackpot value for the yellow player. If the yellow player finished first, the contestant won the jackpot value.

The game motif had a baseball theme, which was changed to a football theme for football season, basketball for basketball season, and a horse race theme for their trip to Arlington. Host Goodman often made jokes about the players going on strike when the game changed themes. On a 1994 episode that marked the first time the game was played as Touchdown, he said, "We used to have baseball players. They went on strike; we got rid of them! Boom! They're gone!"

For the first few episodes on which it was played, the orange player was worth only $1. It quickly became $1,000.


Premiering on 2/11/95, this game had the contestant stand behind a pair of containers that he/she and the audience couldn't see the contents of. Each container had three colored balls: red, yellow, and green. The contestant would draw one ball from the container on their right to establish a "base" color. The player was then spotted $5,000 and asked to draw a ball from the other container. Pulling out a different color (a "mismatch") would earn the contestant another $5,000, while pulling out the same color (a "match") added nothing. After three pulls, the contestant was offered the choice to stop or try for one last pull. A second ball of the base color would then be added to the mix. A mismatch would triple the money, while a match cost the contestant half of their earnings. The maximum payoff in this game was $60,000.


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 (originally $3,000, later $4,000) 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, 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 ones. 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 (later $96,000).


This game utilized a round table, divided into 12 sections. Four cylinders were placed on the table, and a cube was placed in the middle. When turned on, the cube would vibrate and move around the table in a random manner—potentially knocking down the cylinders.

The contestant was spotted $3,000 and in the first round, the cube was activated for 10 seconds. Any cylinder still standing after that time earned the contestant an additional $1,500 for each cylinder. The cube was then activated for another 15 seconds, and any cylinders still remaining after this time were worth an additional $2,500.

After two rounds, any remaining cylinders were removed and one cylinder was placed on the table. The contestant could opt to take their winnings or have the cube activated for another 20 seconds. If the final cylinder was still standing after that time, their winnings quadrupled. If it was knocked over, the contestant lost half of their winnings. The maximum payoff in this game was $76,000.

This game started out as the endgame of each show, but it was later replaced by Thunderball and this was moved to the earlier acts.

Wrecking Ball[]

Premiering on 8/10/97, in this game 12 buildings were placed on a rotating platform. A "crane" with the wrecking ball was nearby.

The contestant would turn his/her back to the platform and pull a lever to release the wrecking ball. The ball would swing through the platform six times, knocking over the buildings. Each building remaining after Round 1 was worth $1,500, while each building remaining after Round 2 was worth an additional $3,000.

The contestant could stop at this point or opt for one more round of six swings. Three buildings were placed on the platform, or if there were more than 3 still standing after Round 2, they were simply left alone. If at least three buildings were left standing after this round, the contestant's winnings would be doubled. Otherwise, the contestant would lose half of his/her winnings. The maximum payoff in this game was $108,000.

Double Dollars[]

This was the only game that was played on every episode of Illinois Instant Riches from the beginning of the run up to the format/name change in 1998. The contestant would pull a lever that launched a ping pong ball to the top of the board, through swinging paddles, through a series of pegs, and into one of eight slots at the bottom of the board. Landing in an empty slot was worth $5,000. Each empty slot added another $5,000. If a ping pong ball landed in a slot that was already occupied, he/she would be issued a strike.

After two strikes, the contestant could stop and take their winnings, or opt for another pull. If a ping pong ball landed in an empty slot, the contestant would have his/her money doubled, and would be offered another pull. If the contestant earned their third strike, they would lose half of their winnings. Play would continue until all eight slots were filled, a third strike was issued, or the contestant chose to stop.

The theoretical maximum payoff in this game was $640,000, but this would require one of two scenario's: that three of a contestant's first four balls landed in the same slot, followed by each following ball landing in a new slot, or the first two balls landed in different slots, then the next two balls landed in the same slots.

Bonus Games[]

There were three formats to the bonus round.

Knockout (7/9/94 – 2/4/95)[]

This was the final round for the first seven months, later on this game would be added into the minigames and the bonus round would be replaced with Thunderball.

The contestants were positioned around a table divided into 12 wedges. The three contestants would draw numbers from 1 to 12, and have a cylinder placed on that numbered wedge. A toy cube was placed in the center of the table, and turned on for 30 seconds. When it was activated, the cube would shake and bounce around the table in a random manner, knocking over cylinders in the process. If a cylinder was still standing after 30 seconds, the contestants won anywhere from $7,500 to $100,000.

In 1997, the show traveled to Arlington Race Course. Because for obvious reasons, the Pot O' Gold set couldn't come along; so a special version of Knockout was played: the returning champion chose a spot on the arena, and the challenger got the spot directly 180 degrees from it. The bouncing cube was released, and whoever's cylinder wasn't knocked out was the winner. If it was the champion, he won another $20,000. If it was the challenger, he got the cash bonus hiding underneath the spot on the arena, up to $200,000.

Thunderball (2/11/95 – Mid '95)[]

Similar to the children's game KerPlunk, a large container was placed center stage containing 15 balls (roughly the size of basketballs). They were suspended in the top of the container by 10 numbered rods. One at a time, each player drew a number from a board, and the corresponding rod was removed from the container. Depending on their position inside the container, some of the balls could fall to the bottom; contestants were eliminated if they lost five balls or dropped the last ball out of the top of the container. The remaining contestant would select one of the numbers he/she had, which contained amounts ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

Pot of Gold (Mid '95 – 8/15/98)[]

Starting in 1995, the "Pot O' Gold" game debuted, utilizing returning champions from previous weeks. The player with the most money during the day's program faced-off against the returning champion. The returning champion would stand at the end of a path behind a keypad with three small buttons and a big red button on top. The opponent stood at the front of the path, with 8 spaces between the two. The first 5 steps were numbered 1-5; the last three had cash awards.

The opponent could take one, two or three steps at a time, but the champion was charged with predicting which step the opponent would pick. That predicted step became the trap (upon picking the step, three yellow lights representing the steps the opponent would choose from would flash and a "typewriter" sound effect occurred). Then the opponent stepped to a spot he/she thought was safe (at which point the lights would turn off (except the step chosen), accompanied by a G-note bell). After the opponent took his/her position, Goodman would ask the champion to press the red button to spring the trap. If the opponent dodged the trap, the game would continue from that safe spot. If not, the opponent had to return to the front of the path. Each step had a yellow light that would turn to a flashing orange whenever the booby-trap was sprung (accompanied by an "explosion" sound effect), in case the player hit the trap. If the player avoided the trap, the yellow light flashed (accompanied by a "harp" sound effect), and the orange light would light up where the booby-trap was placed.

Opponents won and took over the championship if they landed on one of the three cash spaces on the path: the first was worth $10,000, the second worth $25,000, and the last marked "Big Money". If the opponent ended on this space, he/she could pick from a tray of coins worth anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000.

If the champion successfully trapped the challenger twice, the game ended with the champion winning an additional $20,000. There was a six-show limit, which was only achieved once. For the following telecast the next week (in addition to the first time "Pot O' Gold" was ever played), the top two money winners competed. The top winner assumed the champion's while the runner-up assumed the challenger's role.


Main – Edd Kalehoff for Score Productions
Others – Killer Tracks

Contestant Selection – "Spike It" by Rick Braun
Prize Ticket Plug – "E Ticket" by Larry Wolff
Double Dollars Gameplay – "Beat The Clock" by John Hobbs
Mismatch Gameplay – "In High Gear" by John Hobbs
Knockout Gameplay – "Live Wire" by John Hobbs
Force Field Gameplay – "Techno Torch" by Jonathan Merrill
Vortex Gameplay – "Robot Or Not" by Al Capps
Win Fanfare – "Street Knowledge" by Larry Wolff
Lose Cue – "Laser Shot With Echo" by Larry Wolff

The main theme was originally used on TKO in 1989 and Body Talk in 1990. It would also be used in 1995 for Bonus Bonanza in Massachusetts.



Although this game show was for the lottery of Illinois only, it was also aired nationally on Superstation WGN. The show was also viewable over-the-air in some portions of Indiana and Wisconsin, but only residents of Illinois were eligible to participate in the show.


Based on Cash Tornado, by Mark Goodson Productions.


Studio 2, WGN-TV, Chicago, IL


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Similar Shows & Spin-Offs[]

Cash Tornado - Pilot this show is based on from 1993
Illinois' Luckiest - Revamp of the show aired from 1998 to 2000
The Illinois Lottery 25th Anniversary Special - Spinoff aired in 1999
Flamingo Fortune - Clone of this show for the state of Florida from 1995 to 1999
Bonus Bonanza - Clone of this show for the state of Massachusetts from 1995 to 1998
NY Wired - Clone of this show for the state of New York from 1997 to 1999
Pennsylvania Lottery 25th Anniversary Game Show - One-time special for the state of Pennsylvania in 1997

Additional Page[]

Illinois Instant Riches/Video Gallery


Rules for Illinois Instant Riches