Game Shows Wiki

The topic of this page has a Wikia of its own: Sale of the Century wikia.

Bill Wendell (1969 Pilot)
Jack Kelly (1969–1971)
Joe Garagiola (1971–1974)
Jim Perry (1982–1989)
Rossi Morreale (2007–2008)
Madelyn Sanders (1969–1974)
Barbara Lyon (1969–1971)
Kit Dougherty (1971–1974)
Sally Julian (1983)
Lee Menning (1983–1984)
Lou Mulford (Sub for Lee in 1984)
Summer Robin Bartholomew (1984–1989)
Elaine Hobson (NBC, 1983–1989)
Connie Downing (NBC, 1983–1985)
David Gibbs (NBC & SYN, 1983–1989)
Gregorio Gaviati (NBC & SYN, 1983–1989)
Lou Mulford (NBC, 1983–1989; sub for Lee)
Lynnda Herrick (NBC, 1985–1989)
Karen Witter (SYN, 1985–1986)
Tina (last name unknown, SYN, 1985–1986)
Dara (last name unknown, SYN, 1985)
Wayne Howell (1969 Pilot)
Bill Wendell (1969–1974)
Jay Stewart (1983–1988)
Don Morrow (1988–1989)
Rolonda Watts (2007–2008)
Ale of the century logo 1969 73 by dadillstnator de0jp14-fullview.png
Pilot: 1969
NBC Daytime: 9/29/1969 – 7/13/1973
Syndication (Weekly): 9/10/1973 – 6/3/1974 (reruns aired daily until 9/14/1974)
NBC Pilot: 1982
NBC Daytime: 1/3/1983 – 3/24/1989
Syndication (Daily): 1/7/1985 – 5/30/1986 (reruns aired until 9/12/1986)
Pilots: 11/4/2006
MNTV: 9/5/2007 (2 sneak previews)
Syndication (Daily): 9/10/2007 – 5/23/2008 (reruns aired until 9/5/2008)
Jones/Howard Productions (1969–1974)
Reg Grundy Productions (1983–1989)
FremantleMedia North America (2007–2008)
Syndication Distributors
Program Syndication Services/Screen Gems (1973–1974)
Genesis Entertainment (1985–1986)
20th Television (2007–2008)

Sale of the Century (also known as Temptation: The New Sale of the Century and stylized as $ale of the Century) was a long-running American quiz show mixed in with shopping.


The format centered around three contestants who answered general knowledge questions, bought prizes at low cost, and attempted to win a huge cash jackpot and other big-ticket items, which included trips, cars, furs and other luxury merchandise.


Three contestants (one a returning champion) were given $20 to start. The host asked a series of questions, all of which were toss-ups, and only one person could answer each one. During the NBC run, many of the questions asked were based on events or topics that were relevant to the then-present year or then very recently, while the syndicated run used mostly general knowledge questions. The first contestant to buzz-in with a correct answer scored $5, but an incorrect answer or not answering in time lost $5. When a contestant had $0, the player's score display would go blank, and did not show "0" (similar to Wheel of Fortune), and unlike on Jeopardy! and The Challengers, if a contestant got a question wrong and already had $0, the score remained at $0 and was never on the negative side.

In the 1969–1974 version, the players were given $25 to start, and the questions increased in value throughout the game from $5, to $10 after the second round of questions, to $15 each after the fourth set of questions; however, if a contestant's score was reduced to $0, they were eliminated from the game. Later, the $15 questions were replaced with five $20 questions (this was called the "Century Round", because the total value of the questions was $100). From 1973 to 1974, the game was played with two couples; each started with $20 and if either couples score was reduced to $0, they were both given an additional $20.

On the Temptation revival, the contestants' scores were known as "Temptation dollars (T$)".

The Contestant Area
Jim Perry's Podium

Instant Bargain[]

During the game, contestants were given a chance to buy a special prize at a bargain price. To buy the prize, a contestant had to hit his/her buzzer; doing so won the prize which became his/hers to keep win or lose, but the bargain value of the prize was deducted from his/her score.

On the original version, all three contestants could buy a prize. The first contestant to buzz in after the prize was revealed purchased that prize, and the price was deducted from his or her score. The prices of all prizes offered on this version were expressed much as one would hear in a department store (ending with "and 95 cents"), and the prices increased as the episode progressed (e.g. $7.95, $11.95, $14.95, $21.95). All prize values were rounded up to the nearest dollar before being subtracted from the score of the contestant who purchased the prize. Each Instant Bargain was hidden behind a curtain, and contestants could not buzz in before the curtain opened. A contestant who did buzz in early was penalized by having the cost of the Instant Bargain deducted from their score and being locked out of purchasing the prize.

On the 1980s version, only the player in the lead or contestants who were tied could buy a prize. Jim Perry usually tempted the contestant by offering some extra cash and/or lowering the bargain price of the prize, and afterward he said, "Going once, Going twice." If the contestant did not ring in, he said, “No sale.” Sometimes, instant bargains offered "Sale Surprises", which were bonus cash amounts ranging from about $500 to $1,000, and the contestant who bought the prize got the bonus cash. Sale Surprises were added to the show by May 1984. The surprise would only be revealed either after the player bought the prize, or after Jim said, “No sale.” For a brief time in early 1984, any contestant who bought an Instant Bargain could answer a "Money Back Question", and if correctly answered, won back the value of the prize.

During the 1985–1986 syndicated run, the typical values of Instant Bargains were accordingly:

  • First – $300-$800, "yours today for only" $5-$6.
  • Second – $600-$1,500, "yours today for only" $9-$12.
  • Third – $900-$2,500, "yours today for only" $13-$17.

By mid-1986 on the daytime version, with Instant Cash played as the third Instant Bargain, the first segment could be worth as much as $1,500 and the second sometimes was as much as $3,000. During that time, the first Instant Bargain would be offered for $5 or $6, while the second was offered for $10 or $11.

On occasion, a Sale "Garage Sale" was held during one of the Instant Bargain segments, which was simply a collection of three to five prizes previously offered in Instant Bargains, but not won. If the player(s) eligible for the Instant Bargain passed, Perry would open up the Instant Bargain to the other players, and would often lower the price to as low as $1 until someone decided to buy or all three players declined and a "no sale" was declared. The "Garage Sale" was the only time any of the players could potentially buy an Instant Bargain, and Perry noted that this opportunity allowed players who were well behind and not likely to win an opportunity to come away with some prize winnings.

Temptation’s Instant Bargain[]

This was played in the exact same way as the 1980s version. The only stylistic difference was that instead of the host saying "Going once… going twice…", the player was placed on a five-second "Shop Clock". Morreale could also offer additional tickets if the offer included a trip.

Open House/Audience Sale (Original Version Only)[]

The "Open Sale" round was played in early episodes, usually about halfway through a particular episode (after the third round of questions). Five prizes were presented to the contestants and each could buy as many of them as he/she wanted. Unlike Instant Bargains, multiple contestants could buy the same item. This was later replaced with an "Audience Sale" round in which three members of the studio audience guessed the "sale price" of an item. The one that bid closest without going over won the item. The three contestants could increase their score by correctly guessing which, if any, audience member would win.

Instant Cash[]

Beginning in March 1986, the third Instant Bargain was replaced with the new Instant Cash. The player in the lead faced three black boxes numbered 1, 2 and 3. Two of them had $100 bills while the remaining one contained a cash jackpot that started at $1,000, plus another $1,000 for every day it wasn't won (the highest it ever reached was $17,000 with $16,000 being won at least twice, including on the penultimate episode on March 23, 1989 and won for $14,000 at least twice, including Linda Credit's May 1987 Instant Cash win). To play, the player in the lead had to surrender his/her lead (the price was the difference between the leader and the second place player). In case of a tie for the lead, a Dutch auction was held between those players. If he/she decided to play (by hitting his/her buzzer) or whoever decided to play, the player selected one of the boxes and whatever the amount inside was, it was his/hers to keep.

Temptation’s Instant Cash[]

The Temptation revival's Instant Cash was different from the 1980s show; the boxes were replaced with wallets (red, white, and brown), and the jackpot started at $500 and grew by that amount until won with a maximum of $5,000.

Fame Game[]

There was no Fame Game in the original version; it was added when the show returned in 1983.

Original Fame Game[]

In the 1980s version, and in all three rounds, all three players got to participate in the Fame Game. It started with the host reading a "Who am I?" type of question in which the clues would become easier as time progressed. Each Fame Game question had a maximum of ten clues. The first player to buzz in had the right to answer. An incorrect answer forced that player to sit out the rest of the question without money penalties. If at anytime a contestant gives an incorrect answer, then changes to a correct answer, the question was thrown out, and replaced with a new question for a substitute Fame Game for the remaining contestant(s). The first player to buzz in with a correct answer faced a game board with nine numbers (1–9). Behind those numbers were cash awards, prizes, surprises and Money Cards (this was obviously taken from Jim Perry's previous show, Card Sharks). Denominations of $10, $15 and $25 were added respectively in each round. By late 1984, there was an occasional $5 Money Card as well; for a brief time after its introduction, the $5 card had a plus (+) sign after it, meaning the contestant who found it got a second pick of the board, adding either a second Money Card, a prize, or cash to the turn.

The player in control chose a number, and whatever cash and prizes he/she found was his/hers to keep, regardless of the outcome of the game. If a Money Card was found, its value was added to the his/her score. Plus, at various times during the run, there were two spaces (three in the more earlier episodes) that gave the player in control to either take a cash prize or choose another number (one marked $400 and called "$400 or Pick Again" (sometimes accompanied by a space marked $200 and called "$200 or Pick Again"), the other marked with a mystery amount between $1.75 & $1,500; this was called "Mystery Money or Pick Again"). At one time in 1984, there was a space called "True or False".

The prizes themselves ranged in value from just more than $100 to $500 during the first year; by 1984, all Fame Game prizes were worth at least $200, and although some were worth as much as $2,000, they mostly tended to fall within the $300-$750 range.

The Board
The Spaces
The Money Cards

When the show started, the Fame Game board consisted of faces of celebrities (many of them NBC-related) instead of numbers. There was only one Money Card (the $25 Money Card) hidden on the board, and the rest were prizes. Thus, finding the $25 Money Card early made the other Fame Game(s) useless since there were only prizes left. By July 1983, the $10 and $15 Money Cards would start to appear on the board.

Beginning in October 1985, the board became randomized (ala Press Your Luck). Lights around the numbers would flash at random, and stopped when the player in control hit his/her buzzer. In addition "Mystery Money or Pick Again" was renamed "Mystery Money or Try Again"; plus, the Money Cards were revealed at the outset. Once the player stopped the board, that was what he/she got, and whatever it was, that number would be taken off the board for the remaining Fame Games in the show.

On the special week of September 15-19, 1986, the board was used as a Play-Along Home Viewer Sweepstakes. Before the show, Summer Bartholomew drew three cards out of the bin. Unlike the regular Fame Game, instead of prizes, all other numbers were cash. Whatever the player hit, the Home Viewer received the money. If a player hit a Money Card, the Home Viewer won $1,000.

On special weeks from 1988 to 1989, the board was used to determine who would win a brand new car in a game of high number wins.

Temptation’s Fame Game[]

In the short-lived Temptation’s Fame Game, while host Morreale read a "Who am I?"-typed question, letters in the correct answer appeared one at a time (a la Wheel of Fortune’s Toss-Up Puzzles & Scrabble’s Speedword). There was no game board in this version; a correct answer won T$15 to the contestant with the correct answer; also, the Fame Game was only played once (though in an earlier episode, there was a second Fame Game with the value being T$25).

Knock-Off (Temptation Only)[]

The short-lived Temptation revival also had a new round called "Knock Off", which was played just like the 1980s game show Wipeout.

A category was revealed, followed by twelve possible answers on a game board. Nine of them were correct answers and had money amounts behind them, while the remaining three were wrong; those were dubbed "Knock-Offs". The three contestants took turns picking off answers and each time a correct answer was chosen, the player in control won money behind the answer; but if the answer selected was a Knock-Off, the person who picked that was eliminated from the round.

Four of the answers (sometimes two) were worth T$2, (sometimes) another two of the answers were worth T$3, three were worth T$5, one was worth T$10, and one was the least obvious answer and was worth T$15.

The round ended when all three players were eliminated or if all the money amounts were found (all the correct answers were chosen).

Final Round[]

For the first year in the 1980s version, host Perry would read three more $5 questions for a total of $15. This was scrapped when many games were already decided prior to this, in favor of the well-remembered Speed Round by late March 1984.

Speed Round[]

In the Speed Round, the host would ask as many questions as possible during the next 60 seconds (originally 90, 30 in the Temptation revival with two others played earlier in the game). Correct answers were still worth $5 in the 1980s version, and doubled to T$10 in the Temptation revival.


  • The original cue for the "Speed Round" (used from 1984 to 1986) was also used for the "Winner's Circle" bonus round from Pyramid.
  • Another cue that sounded similar to the "Speed Round" (and the "Winner's Circle" bonus round from Pyramid) was also used on a 1990 unsold game show pilot called Body Talk hosted by Vicki Lawrence.
  • The speed rounds in the Temptation revival were as follows:
    1. Played like the original version, with each question worth T$5, up or down.
    2. Similar to the first speed round, except each question had one of two choices given at the start (usually related to each other in some way).
    3. Exactly the same as the first one, with each question worth T$10, up or down.

The player with the most money won the game. If there was a tie at the end, the host would read one final question (a Fame Game/Who am I question in the earlier months of the 1980s version). A correct answer won $5 more and the game, but an incorrect answer cost $5 and the game (in the Temptation revival, the opponent was given the T$10 by default in this case). In the case of a three way tie, the first contestant to buzz-in and miss was out of the game. The winning player became Sale of the Century champion and in the final years of the show also won a bonus prize, while the losers kept their final scores in cash in addition to everything else.

The "Temptation dollars (T$)" in the Temptation revival were not valid currency; so there was always a possibility that any losing contestant would leave with nothing except unacknowledged parting gifts.


The champion won a chance to buy a grand prize at a bargain price using his/her winning score.

A series of prizes (four on the original version, six on the 1980s version, and five on the Temptation revival) were on display with the biggest prize being a brand new luxury car. The champion could either buy the grand prize (for which he/she had enough money to buy with) and leave the show, or return on the next show with the money scored that day being added to the next day's winning score. In the original version and in the 1980s version Tournament of Champions, (grand) champions could buy more than one prize. Occasionally in the 1980s version, if a champion scored more than enough to buy the next prize in line while shooting for the intended target prize, then the champion had a choice between those two prizes. In the Temptation revival, the contestant always had a choice of prizes no matter how much money he/she had at that point. In the original version and in the Temptation revival, the highest the winning contestant could buy was (usually) a new car.

Meanwhile, the 1980s version allowed contestants to win every single prize on the stage plus some extra cash. In the beginning, the extra cash was added to total the grand value to exactly $95,000, depending on how much the prizes were totaled to. Then on May 23, 1983, a cash jackpot was added. It started at $50,000 and increased by $1,000 each day until somebody won it.

In the original version, when contestants chose to return the next day, they were asked which prizes they were considering buying. As long as the contestant kept winning, those prizes remained while others were replaced by more expensive ones.

In the Temptation revival, contestants could only play for up to five shows, at which point they were forced to buy a prize and retire. Also, if they didn't have enough for the least expensive prize, they could buy a Croton diamond watch with their winnings as a consolation prize.

On the 1973-1974 syndicated series, the winning couple answered a series of questions worth $100 and could stop at anytime and buy one of three prizes (trip, fur, or car). Later, the couple had to correctly answer three questions to win one of the three prizes, the difficulty of which depended on its sale price; the low-end prize was $50 a question, the medium prize was worth $100, and the high-end prize was worth $200.

Shopping prices[]

1983-1984 daytime
From the start to at least March 1983, the sale prices for the six on-stage prizes varied from week to week. By about mid-April 1983, they were fixed to:

  • $55 – $2,000 to $2,500 prize
  • $120 – $3,500 to $4,000 prize
  • $185 – $5,000 to $7,000 prize
  • $250 – $10,000 to $12,000 prize
  • $335 – $20,000 to $25,000 prize (typically a boat, but occasionally other prizes)
  • $420 – $35,000+ car (in the earliest months a Mercedes-Benz, later a Cadillac)
  • $510 – Originally, all of the above plus enough cash to round out the Lot to exactly $95,000. Beginning on May 23, 1983, this level became a Cash Jackpot that started at $50,000 and went up by $1,000 per day until won.
  • $600 – Once the Cash Jackpot was added, $600 was the goal for the Lot (all six prizes and the Cash Jackpot).

Once the Speed Round came into play in March 1984, the values were upped to the following:

  • $75
  • $160
  • $245
  • $330
  • $435
  • $540 (car)
  • $650 (Cash Jackpot)
  • $760 (The Lot)

1985 nighttime
When the syndicated series debuted, the prize structure ran as follows, with each of the first five levels below roughly corresponding to the same spot prize-wise as the daytime run:

  • $85
  • $195
  • $285
  • $390
  • $485
  • $610 (car)
  • $720 (all prizes)
  • $830 (The Lot)

Beginning on the 16th episode (January 28, 1985), these were tweaked slightly to their more familiar structure:

  • $85 (unchanged)
  • $175
  • $260
  • $340
  • $445
  • $530 (car)
  • $640 (all prizes)
  • $750 (The Lot)

The price drops were probably done to make getting the prizes a bit easier: during the first three weeks, no champion stayed on for more than four days, no player banked more than $223, and nobody opted to purchase an endgame prize. Note also the progression: for the first three weeks, the price jumps were $110-$90-$105-$95-$125-$110-$110, whereas the standard structure had jumps of $90-$85-$80-$105-$85-$110-$110.

Big Winners during the 1980s shopping era[]


  • Mort Kamins – He was an early Lot winner in the 1980s revival, He won $107,369 in March 1983, and later went on to win the very first Tournament of Champions (November 1983), winning a grand total of $249,982.
  • Richard Heft – He won an $82,000 Cash Jackpot in July 12, 1983 (his grand total was over $88,000), and was the first person to claim the jackpot.
  • Barbara Philips – She won $151,689 in August 7, 1983, becoming the first contestant to win over $150,000 on a daytime network show. On her final show, Phillips needed $116 to win all the prizes plus the Cash Jackpot ($68,000), and she won everything in dramatic fashion, needing to answer the final three $5 questions correctly, thus making her the only player to win all the prizes and the Cash Jackpot as well as the final daytime player to win the Lot (all the other big network winners took the Cash Jackpot and left).
  • Kathy Riley – She won a $78,000 Cash Jackpot in January 1984, albeit in a rather anticlimactic fashion: Kathy was $15 ahead of Bob, one of her opponents, as the game was going to the final three questions, which meant that Bob needed to correctly answer all three to tie the game. Roger, who was in a distant third, buzzed in on the first question, therefore giving Kathy the Cash Jackpot by default… although nobody seemed to realize this until Bob missed the second question, at which point Jim threw away the last question and declared Kathy the winner. The Speed Round was instituted shortly thereafter.
  • David Rogers – He won $122,084 in April 1984, including a $109,000 Cash Jackpot (the highest ever won on the show). His big win came just two weeks after a previous champion, Dawn McKellar, tried for a $99,000 Jackpot but lost the game by just $2. Rogers was among the first big winners since the incorporation of the Speed Round, and later appeared on Jeopardy! in 1987 (under the name David Nagy).
  • Bill Baxter – He won a $70,000 Cash Jackpot in somewhat dramatic fashion in May 1984 and left with total winnings of $85,256. Baxter had a total of $659 in his account the day of his big win, and would've needed to come back the next day and win with at least $101 to get the Lot, which totaled $142,855.
  • Ian Barondess - Won a $58,000 cash jackpot in May 1984. He later appeared on Jeopardy! in 1986.
  • Susan Wolfe – She won $69,798 in July 1984, including a $61,000 Cash Jackpot.
  • Stephanie Holmquist – She won a $74,000 Cash Jackpot in September 1984 (about a month before the debut of the Winner's Board) with her bank account on the show. Her cash and prize total was $83,337. Stephanie had $723 when she bought the Jackpot, and she would have needed at least $37 or more on the next show to win the Lot, which totaled $147,095. In 1985, she appeared again, this time in the Tournament of Champions, where she won $35,000 and a Porsche. Her total winnings were $152,897, which was the highest ever in daytime at that time, until her record was overtaken by Tom O'Brien two years later.
  • Bill Fogel – He won $66,459 in October 1984 (a week before the Winner's Board's debut), including a $61,000 Cash Jackpot, but not before winning the game with $145 (setting an all-time main game record). Bill was the last big-money winner of the NBC shopping era and had a total of $721 in his account the day of his big win; a win of just $39 more would have won the Lot, which totaled $131,761.


  • John Gose – He won $156,339, including a $72,000 Cash Jackpot, in February 1985, becoming the first player on this version to win the Lot. In his final game, Gose had $655 in his account, needing at least $95 to win everything on the stage, and he won the game with exactly $95. It was revealed after his big win that John was between jobs at the time, making the fact he continued to take risks that much more remarkable.
  • Helaine Lowey – She won $142,974 in February 1985, including a $64,000 Cash Jackpot. On her final show, Lowey had $703 in her account, needing at least $47 to win the Lot.
  • Alice Conkright – She won $141,406 in April 1985, including a $77,000 Jackpot, in only six shows (the shortest amount of time it took anyone to do so on the American version; the three other nighttime lot winners all needed eight shows to win) and won every single show with at least $115, including a record $145 (tying Bill Fogel's record) on two separate occasions. On her first show, she defeated Michael Friedman, who himself needed $101 to win the $72,000 Cash Jackpot. In her final show, Conkright had $660 in her account, needing at least $90 for the Lot. She won her final game easily with $115 to her opponents who finished with $20 and $25 respectively.
    • In addition to her adeptness at answering questions, she refused to buy any of the Instant Bargains she had a chance to take despite the cajoling of host Jim Perry, even when she had seemingly insurmountable leads (which kept her scores relatively high). Jim remarked on her final show she had turned down a total of $11,000 in cash offers along with the Instant Bargain prizes.
  • Tim Holleran – He won $166,875 in September 1985, including a $90,000 Cash Jackpot (the highest it ever got on this version, and second only to the $109,000 jackpot won by David Rogers in daytime), becoming the biggest winner in American Sale history (notwithstanding tournaments). In his final show, Holleran had $707 in his account, needing at least $43 for the Lot. In 1987, Holleran competed in the International Invitational Tournament, and was the United States' representative in the Finals. He finished second place to Cary Young of Australia, but won additional money during the Tournament, giving him a final total of $183,373. NOTE: A young Kevin Nealon appeared onstage to congratulate Tim after his Lot win.

Super Knock-Off (Temptation Only)[]

Super Knock-Off was played like regular Knock-Off except that it was a 50/50 split (six right, six wrong), the money amounts were now higher, and only the winning contestant could play. Any money collected in this round affected the main game score plus any money in the bank should they make a return trip.

Once again, a category was revealed followed by the twelve possible answers. The contestant picked off answers one by one, and each time a correct answer was chosen, he/she won the money attached to that answer. But if at any time a Knock-Off was chosen, he/she lost all the money accumulated in that round; to prevent this from happening, however, he/she had the option to stop and take the money after each correct answer.

Four of the correct answers were worth T$25, one was the second least obvious answer worth T$50, and one was the least obvious answer and was worth T$100, for a maximum total of T$250.

1980s Bonus Games[]

In the later years of the 1980s revival, the shopping format was dropped, and new bonus rounds were played.

Winner's Board[]

Starting in October 1984 on the NBC version, and November 18, 1985 on the syndicated version, the winning contestant faced the Winner's Board. The Winner's Board consisted of 20 numbered squares. Behind those numbers were seven matching pairs of prizes (one of which was $3,000), and two WIN cards which constituted an automatic match. The champion picked off numbers to reveal the prizes, and the first prize matched was the prize won. If at any time one of the WIN cards was revealed, the next prize revealed was the prize won. The two biggest prizes were $10,000 and a new car; both of which appeared only once. To win either of the big prizes, the player had to first find one of the WIN cards, then find one of those prizes. Should the two big prizes be left on the board, then only two numbers hiding those prizes would be shown. There was no bonus for finding both WIN cards in succession (a la winning a $500 bonus for picking both WILD Cards in succession on Classic Concentration); the champion simply picked another number.

The combined value of all the prizes, including $13,000 cash, nominally added up to between $50,000-$60,000.

Once the board was cleared (all prizes matched), the champion then had to make a decision: either keep all the prizes and retire, or play one more game for a chance at adding an additional $50,000. The catch in the latter instance was that the contestant, if he/she wanted the opportunity, had to put all 10 of the Winner's Board prizes up as collateral (essentially it was a form of competing against the house). (All front game prizes, such as Instant Bargains, Instant Cash, Sale Surprises, and Fame Game prizes, were not at risk.) A champion winning by at least $1 awarded the $50,000, as well as being allowed to keep the 10 Winner's Board prizes and retiring undefeated; if one of the champion's opponents won, however, he/she lost all the Winner's Board prizes.

Based on circulating episodes and fan recollections, all contestants who took the risk won their final game. However, more than once, the final game came down to the closing seconds of the Speedround before the win was secured, and at least once -- in the case of Mark DeCarlo, in April 1985 -- a tiebreaker was needed to determine the day's winner; he won after the opponent he was tied with at the end of the Speedround rang in too early and gave an incorrect answer, costing her $5 and the game.

Furthermore, there were at least seven daytime contestants (Jeff Hewitt and Margerite Newhouse (both in 1984), Tim O'Rourke and Dave Goodman (both in 1985), Judy Cahill (1986), Andy Ross and John Homa (both in 1987)) who opted to walk away after winning their 10th game. Plus, there were several contestants who lost on their 10th game, with two of those contestants failing to win only the car and another needing to clear just the $10,000. Another 10th-game loser, Jody Spreckles, was invited back to a show after a judge's error was discovered; she reclaimed her championship by defeating a six-day champion, and went on to win the $50,000 bonus after a suspenseful Speed Round.

In the transition from the Shopping to the Winner's Board, the champion at that point was given the option to leave with the prize offered, or keep the prize and continue as champion into the new format. In both the daytime show and the syndicated series, the champion chose the latter. Debbie Morris, the champion on the NBC show kept a prize and on the first ever Winner's Board show the champion successfully defended her crown (winning a TV). The champion on the syndicated show kept a $5,000 custom women's wardrobe (by French designer Ted Lapidus) and on the first syndicated Winner's Board show the champion successfully defended his crown (winning a Beverly Hills Shopping Spree).

Big Winners from this era[]


  • Jeff Hewitt – One of the first champions to clear the Winner's Board in late 1984, he declined to go for the $50,000 bonus, leaving with $72,794.
  • Margerite Newhouse – She won over $65,000 in late 1984, including winning a new Mercedes-Benz in dramatic fashion during her next-to last game with two prizes and four numbers left on the Winner's Board. Newhouse declined to go for the $50,000 bonus.
    • During the debut of the Winner's Board format, she lost due to an error (Debbie Morris, the last winner of the previous bonus, won that day), so she was brought back a few weeks later.
  • Tim O'Rourke – He won $62,843 in January 1985, declining to go for the $50,000 bonus.
  • Cindy Barr – She won $111,590 in June 1985; her final-day score was $115, and her 10th-day prize was a white-iron and brass-accented bed. During her congratulatory celebration, Barr announced that a portion of her winnings was going to various charities to feed children in Africa.
  • Mark DeCarlo – His final game (April 1985) came down to a climactic tiebreaker. His opponent buzzed in early and answered incorrectly, which by default netted him the win and the $50,000 bonus, for a grand total of $115,257 (his cash total is $69,400). He was the first contestant to win the $50,000 bonus. He won $10,000 on his 10th day; prior to his 10th victory, he picked up a Mexican cruise, a pearl necklace, a lady's fur coat, a high-end stereo system and a Nissan 300 ZX T-top 2 dr. coupe from the Winner's Board. Six years later, in 1991, DeCarlo would host the short-lived syndicated dating game show Studs where in an episode, the late Jim Perry would make a brief walk-on appearance by introducing him on the show.
  • Jeff Colbern – He won $123,753 in April 1985, including an Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham 2 door coupe (won on his 10th day). His cash total was $70,600.
  • Dave Goodman – He took home $64,045 in October 1985, opting to retire undefeated after winning $10,000 on his 10th day.
  • Judy Cahill – In January 1986, she won $89,780; her 10th day prize was a Persian rug. Deciding she (and her husband) could do a lot of good with what had been won, she walked away.
  • Richard White – He was an attorney who won over $120,000 in May 1986, including $70,000 cash. His wife Rani won over $140,000 in the Winner's Big Money game era in April 1988, becoming the only person to win the $50,000 bonus there.
  • Jody Spreckles – She won $107,462 in August 1986 (her cash total is $68,400). Jody won her final game by $10. She had earlier lost her 10th game, but due to an error that cost her that game, she was invited back, reclaimed her championship (picking up $3,000 cash upon doing so) and went on to win everything.
  • Diane Cross – In January 1987, she was a big winner during the final year of the Winner's Board era, and was invited back for the final Tournament of Champions in 1988 and was that year's biggest tournament winner, having won a Mercedes-Benz worth over $30,000, plus other cash and prizes previously, including over $80,000 in cash and prizes during her run in the Winter of 1987. Among the prizes she won in 1987 included a $21,000+ Ferrari Daytona Spyder, a $2,000+ trip to London, England, and an unusual trip to an underwater hotel in Key Largo worth about $4,000. She won other prizes during the Tournament of Champions in 1988 along with the Mercedes-Benz, giving her a grand total of $146,995.
  • Andy Ross – He won $81,900 in early 1987 (known to have been during Blockbusters hosted by Bill Rafferty), declining to go for the $50,000 bonus.
  • Linda Credit – She won $140,457 in June 1987, including a $14,000 Instant Cash jackpot (her cash total is $84,300). She then played in the 1988 Tournament of Champions and won another $5,700, for a total of $146,157. She was one of the last big winners during the Winner's Board era.
  • John Homa – He won 10 games from June 10 to 23, 1987, and won $17,000 in the Instant Cash game on June 23, 1987, won his 10th game that day, and decided not to go for the $50,000.
  • Tom O'Brien – The last big winner of the Winner's Board era, Tom won a total of $152,847 in his first eleven games (his cash total is $81,400). He was brought back for the final Tournament of Champions in 1988 and added another $20,217 to his winnings, giving him the then-biggest ever daytime total of $173,064.
    • It is theorized (but not certain) that this is the same Tom O'Brien who later won $500,000 on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He chose to walk away after seeing his $1,000,000 question, and was the first contestant to realize that he would have won it had he not opted to stop.


  • Curtis Warren – He was one of two Winner's Board lot winners on the syndicated show. In January 1986, he left with $136,288, including $69,600 cash; his Winner's Board take was $56,241, including a Nissan 300ZX. He would later go on to win $1.41 million on Greed in 2000, which at the time was the all-time winnings record (has since been broken four times, most recently by Brad Rutter). He also won $700 on Win Ben Stein's Money after he failed to beat Ben in the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge.
  • Lisa Muñoz – She won $122,551 in February and March 1986, including the $50,000 bonus. Lisa won her final game with a whopping $140. Her cash total is $68,200.

Winner's Big Money Game[]

On December 21, 1987, the bonus was changed one more time. In the Winner's Big Money Game, the day's champion had solve a series of six-clue word puzzles within a time limit. To start, Perry gave the champion a choice three envelopes (red, yellow, or blue). Whatever choice was made, the player started to hear and see the words of each puzzle appear one by one; as soon as he/she knew what the puzzle was talking about the contestant had to hit a plunger in front of him/her to stop the clock (the clock started when the first word appeared). If the champion was correct, he/she won the puzzle and a circled checkmark lit up on the winner's podium. He/She could miss once and continue, but two misses or time running out ended the game. The player could also buzz-in and opt to pass without penalty if he/she couldn't come up with an answer.

Solving four puzzles in 20 seconds (originally five in 25 seconds until no later than February 29, 1988) won the champion $5,000 plus $1,000 for every return trip, until he/she played the $10,000 game (a grand total of $45,000 for the first 6 Winner's Big Money Games). The next Winner's Big Money Game was worth a new car; losing that game meant the player left the show, but winning the car gave the champion the right to play one more game. Winning that final game earned a chance to play one last Winner's Big Money Game for $50,000.

Two people made it to the $50,000 Winner's Big Money Game, but only one won it. Veteran game show contestant LaRae Dillman in January 1989 and Darrell Garrison during the last week of the show in March 1989 both made it to the seventh Winner's Big Money Game, but both lost when playing for the car (there were a couple of other seventh WBMG car losses including Robin McKirahan in August 1988 who ended up leaving the show with $41,537 in total cash and prizes after her seventh match). The $50,000 bonus appears to have been eliminated as early as November 1988, as Darrell was told on-air that his last time playing the bonus would be for the car, and there was no mention of the $50,000 bonus when LaRae was playing for the car in January 1989 but lost the car and left with over $44,700 in cash and prizes. Also, during Christmas week of 1988 when a contestant won two consecutive Winner's Big Money Games, there wasn't a mention of the $50,000 Winner's Big Money Game at that point. Ironically, the $50,000 top prize was still mentioned in the opening spiel despite having been eliminated.


  • With the introduction of the Winner's Big Money Game, the day's winner now received a bonus prize for winning the match:
    • From December 21, 1987 through February 8, 1988 (the second-to-last game of the 1988 Tournament of Champions), at the start of the second segment of the episode, the returning champion would be shown a board with six concealed prizes (labeled 1-6), and their choice would go to the day's winner.
    • On February 10, 1988, this changed so that the day's winner would choose from the board after the Speed Round, before going to play the Winner's Big Money Game.
    • On August 17, 1988 and continuing for the rest of the run, the board for choosing prizes was done away with, with the prize for the day's winner now announced by Jim before starting the main game.
  • The Winner's Big Money Game was originally the bonus round of the unsold 1985 Reg Grundy pilot Matchmates, hosted by Michael Burger.
Big Winners from this era[]
  • Rani White – She won $140,011 in May 1988, and was the only contestant to win the $50,000 bonus during this era (her cash total is almost $94,000).
  • Phil Cambry – He won $91,323 in October 1988 (his cash total is $30,600). He won his final game, but missed the $50,000 bonus.
  • Darrell Garrison – He won $79,348 during the final week of the series in March 1989 (his cash total is $42,900), but missed the car on his seventh and final day.
  • Elaine Pelino – She won over $71,200 in September of 1988. She was defeated on her sixth day (her cash total was $40,755).
  • Kerry Phillips – He won $54,066 in January of 1989 (cash total almost $29,000). He was in line to go for the Jeep Cherokee in the Winner's Big Money Game on his seventh and final day but was defeated by LaRae Dillman in the front game.
  • LaRae Dillman – She won $44,756 in January of 1989 (cash total $15,200). She defeated Kerry Phillips on his seventh and final day. She made it to the Winner's Big Money Game for the seventh and final time, but missed the car. Previously, she was a contestant on The New $25,000 Pyramid and Bill Cullen's Blockbusters.
  • Robin McKirahan – She won $41,537 in August of 1988 (cash total $16,400). She lost the car on her seventh day, and had to retire undefeated, thus disqualifying her from the $50,000 Winner's Big Money Game (the $50,000 Winner's Big Money Game was eliminated after Phil Cambry's attempt at it)


During the NBC run, there were tournaments held at least once a season. These tournaments likely occurred during a sweeps period, when major ratings events tended to occur. There were no tournaments in the syndicated run.

Shopping Era[]

The first Tournament of Champions was held in Fall 1983, featuring the nine biggest winners to that point. In this first tournament, there were three weeks of semi-final games. Players accumulated money over the course of a week until Friday, when the player with the highest score would spend that money on the week's major prizes (even having the option to buy more than one prize if he/she accumulated enough money), with the top prize being everything for $600, including a flat $50,000; of course, as usual, the $50,000 was available as a standalone prize for $510.

The winners of the semi-finals would qualify for the finals, where the scores would again accumulate over the week, and the player with the highest score at the end of that week automatically won all the major prizes showcased that week, including a Chevrolet Corvette and the $50,000.

Winner's Board Era[]

The 1985 tournament had 18 players, all of whom played during either the Shopping or Winner's Board eras, competing three at a time until two players were left with the semi-finals being played for $10,000 cash. The finals were best-of-three, with the winner getting $25,000 & a Porsche worth $27,622 During the 1985 TofC, the Winner's Board was only played during each of the six quarter-final games.

The 1987 International Invitational Tournament had various winners from 1984 to 1986, as well as big winners representing Australia and Canada. At least Alice Conkwright and Tim Holleran were brought back from the 1985–1986 syndicated run to participate, although Alice didn't do well, possibly because the NBC version's questions tended to be based on current events whereas the syndicated series almost never used them. The winner of a match in this tournament would play the Winner's Board for a bonus prize, with no car on the board. The finals were a best-of-seven playoff between the three countries' finalists; the first player to win three games received a Chevrolet Corvette. this tournament was originally broadcast in January 1987 as part of the show's time slot change to 10:00am from 10:30am, not a sweeps period, instead of February 1987 due to NBC holding the "Car-azy February Sweepstakes" on all its game shows during the February sweeps.

Winner's Big Money Game Era[]

In 1988, supposedly in February (as the "5 answers in 25 seconds" rule was present, plus Don Morrow had recently taken over as announcer by that point; Rani White's $50,000 win happened in May and the "4 in 20" rule was in place by March 1988), the nine top winners from 1987 would participate in three days of semi-finals. The winner of each semi-final match played the Winner's Big Money Game for an extra $5,000.

On the Thursday of the first week, the three finalists would play a series of matches for up to four days. If a player won his/her first match, he/she would play the Winner's Big Money Game for $10,000; but the first player to win two matches in the finals would get $10,000 in guaranteed cash and play the Winner's Big Money Game for a $32,195 Mercedes-Benz. Unlike previous tournaments, there was a possibility that the player could have lost the car, resulting in the tournament ending on a sad note, but this was not the case as the car was won. This would possibly be the last time a car valued at $30,000 or greater was offered during the NBC run.

Although there were no tournaments of champions after February 1988, there were other tournaments that occurred that did not involve former champions. One example was the Salute to True Romance, in November 1988, which involved new players for the first nine shows, and the top three winners among those nine shows would play one final match where the winner would automatically win a new car. The Winner's Big Money Game was played for $5,000 on each episode during the first nine episodes, but on the finals, no end game was played. The finals during the Salute to True Romance tournament, oddly enough, involved three men competing, making this the last time in the series that this happened.

In February 1989, as the series' final sweeps stunt, the show held Brides Week, which had three female newlywed contestants every day that week. The Winner's Big Money Game was played for a flat $5,000 each day. The winner of each match during that week, including Friday, would play a special end game after the Winner's Big Money Game on Friday, where the Fame Game board was used, and each contestant would stop the board on a number 1 to 9. The player with the highest number won a new car. In the event of a tie for the highest number, the contestants involved would play a tiebreaker until a winner was declared. The Friday episode of Brides Week was the last time a car was won by a contestant in the series.

Four other such tournament weeks involving the Fame Game board to determine the winner of a new car included the End of Summer Bash during 8/29/1988 – 9/2/1988, and Pep Rally Week in October 1988 with the grand prize for each being a Jeep Wrangler, with the same Fame Game "highest number wins game" used later on the February 1989 Brides Week played on the Friday episode for the car (which was a Ford Probe worth over $14,000). The first two tournament weeks, the first Brides Week in April 1988 and Varsity Week in July 1988 used the above Fame Game "high number wins" with the winner getting a trip along with the car (a convertible and a honeymoon trip to Tahiti in April 1988's Brides Week and a trip to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea and the aforementioned Jeep Wrangler in that July's Varsity Week).

International Versions[]

The following is a list of countries that have done their own versions of Sale of the Century and/or Temptation:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • France (two 1995 pilots that have never made it to air)
  • Greece
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Paraguay
  • South Africa
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom


Sale of the Century (1980s Perry version) has been seen on USA Network, GSN/Game Show Network and Buzzr. Only most episodes from August 1988 to March 1989 (NBC run) and January 1985 to May 1986 (entire Syndicated run) were shown on USA from September 14, 1992 to July 29, 1994 for a total of 390 episodes. GSN has only shown 65 NBC episodes (November 1988-March 1989) and 127 Syndicated episodes (January 1985-February 1986) from April 1, 2013 to March 27, 2015. Currently, Buzzr, since October 18, 2015, has shown Syndicated episodes 1-125 (January-October 1985)

On April 30, 2018, Jason Cranmer contacted the director of sales from Fremantle, Alexandra Hedgewood, in the hopes of finding out if the daytime episodes were saved or not. According to the director, they have 883 episodes. This figure may or may not include the syndicated run. She further mentioned that no episodes prior to 1985 are in Fremantle's archives.

So, on one hand, this refutes claims that were made years before by the late Mitt Dawson (a former Grundy staffer) that only the August 1988-March 1989 portion exists; the surviving NBC shows date at least two years prior to that. Unfortunately, however, it also raises fears that the 1983-1985 NBC shows may have indeed been wiped.

On November 14, 2020, the 17th episode of the 1969-73 NBC version (10/21/69) in audio form surfaced on YouTube and Soundcloud.[1][2] Making it the first time since the show ended in 1973 that an episode has resurfaced. On December 20, 2020, another episode in audio form surfaced on YouTube.[3]

Beginning on November 29, 2021, the Canadian cable channel GameTV started airing reruns of the syndicated Sale of the Century - which has 100 episodes in the initial lease, starting from late March 1985 (during the midst of Michael Friedman's run) and running through early December 1985. The lease includes Alice Conkwright's and Tom Holleran's huge wins.


NBC Studio 8H, New York City, NY (1969–1974)
NBC Studios 2 and 3, Burbank, CA (1983–1989)
Tribune Studios, Hollywood, CA (2007–2008)


72px-TV-G icon svg.png


1969 – Al Howard and Irwin Bazelon
1983 – "Mercedes" by Ray & Marc Ellis
1987 – Ray & Marc Ellis
2007 (Preview) – Used same theme as the Australian version
2007 (Series) – Nadia DiGiallonardo & Biagio Belmonte

Lyrics to Temptation: The New Sale of the Century Theme Song (2007)[]

(Are You Tempted?)
You can't fight the Temptation!
Can you hear it call?
(Are You Tempted?)


Al Howard

Additional Pages[]

Sale of the Century/Merchandise
Sale of the Century/Sale In Popular Culture
Sale of the Century/Quotes & Catchphrases
Sale of the Century/Episode Guide


Sale of the Century/Classic
Sale of the Century/Picture Gallery
Sale of the Century/Video Gallery



The Best 80s & 90s Game Shows: Sale of the Century
Rules for Sale of the Century @
Rules for Sale of the Century @ Game Show Temple
Travis' Sale of the Century Rules Page
Another Sale of the Century Rules Page
A Blog about "Sale of the Century"
Official Pearson website for Sale of the Century via Internet Archive
Sale of the Century program description @ Fremantlemedia (via Internet Archive)
Temptation: The New Sale Of The Century @ Game Show Garbage

YouTube Videos[]

Sale of the Century - Joe Garigiola clip
Temptation: (U.S.) Theme

NBC Version[]

Lou Mulford's Sale of the Century Demo Reel
Jim Perry Promoting Daytime Wheel...ON THE SET OF SALE OF THE CENTURY?
Barbara Philips becomes one of the biggest winners in the series
Winner's Board Debut
Mark DeCarlo takes a risk and goes for over $100,000

Winner plays the Winner's Big Money Game
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Rani White plays for $50,000

Syndicated Version[]

A Double Benjamin Tie!

John Goss goes for over $100,000 (Requirement: $95 or more needed)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

GSN Reruns[]

Sale of the Century on GSN promo (HD version)
Sale of the Century on GSN promo (SD version)