Game Shows Wiki
Host/Executive Producer
Ryan Seacrest
The Million Second Quiz.png
NBC: 9/9/2013-9/19/2013
All3Media America
Studio Lambert Productions
Ryan Seacrest Productions
Universal Television

The Million Second Quiz was a short-lived, quiz game show where contestants have to answer questions in less than a million seconds.


The quiz is set in a huge hourglass-shaped structure in midtown Manhattan near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel on the roof of a building which formerly was occupied by the "Mercedes-Benz of Manhattan" dealership in Hell's Kitchen (an indoor set within the building was also constructed for the non-primetime game as well as in inclement weather situations). Contestants will compete in a quiz competition played 24 hours a day for 1,000,000 seconds (11 days, 13 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds); the contest having started the day before the first TV broadcast. Money is made by sitting in the "Money Chair" and answering multiple-choice trivia questions against a series of challengers in head-to-head quiz bouts. Each tenth of a second in the chair earns the player $1 ($10 a second, $600 a minute, $36,000 an hour, $864,000 a day); money accumulates at a constant rate, even when matches are not being played. Contestants in the chair earn money until they are defeated by a challenger, who replaces the occupant of the chair.

Each bout lasts a short period of time. Contestants have only five seconds to answer a question.

Online Bouts[]

Each bout lasts 500 seconds (8:20). Each answer is worth a point; the player with the most wins.

TV Bouts[]

During prime time, there are three bouts: the "Challenger" bout (5:00), the "Line Jumper" bout (5:00 in episode 1; 400 seconds [6:40], in episode 2), and the Winner's Defense" bout (6:40; 8:20 in the finale).

Questions start at one point during the first 100 seconds, and the value of new questions increases by one point every 100 seconds (the value of a question in play stays the same). A contestant can "double" his or her opponent, challenging the opponent to answer for double points (an incorrect answer gives double points to the doubling player). A doubled opponent, however, can "double back" for quadruple points either way; if doubled back, the contestant is forced to answer. Each contestant may double as often as they wish during the bout. The contestant who accumulates more points wins the bout and either retains the Money Chair or replaces the contestant who was in the Money Chair at the start of the bout. If there is a tie between the two contestants, a tie-breaker question is asked, with the faster correct answer winning. If both contestants answer the tie-breaker question wrong, the contestant who accumulated more money wins the bout.

The "Challenger" bout features someone who has "waited in line" to play. The "Line Jumper" bout of each episode features a player who qualified for the show by achieving a sufficiently high score on the Million Second Quiz app, bypassing the normal tryout process.

The Winner's Defense" bout features one of the top four players who have accumulated the most money in their bouts . Those players live next to the hourglass in Winners' Row". They will try to survive there until the million seconds are up, but other contestants can displace them by accumulating more money. In the Winner's Defense, the current "Power Player" (someone with either the most money of the four or the one who answered the most questions during the course of the show {they play along with the game}) chooses one of the four players currently on Winners' Row to face the player currently in the Money Chair (and may choose himself or herself). The winner of that bout claims both players' total winnings, and takes or keeps the Money Chair, while the loser is eliminated. In episode 1, the Power Player was the player with the most winnings; from episode 2 onward, it was the player who had the highest percentage of correct answers.

Money Chair challengers and players eliminated (but not displaced) from Winners' Row lose any winnings they have accumulated. Eliminated players (including players displaced from Winner's Row) may try out again and possibly win their way back into the Money Chair.

After the live show goes off the air, an additional bout is played under Online rules.


Once the countdown clock reaches zero, the four players with the highest totals (that is, the three highest scoring Winner's Row occupants plus whoever is in the money chair when time runs out) keep all of their credited winnings and compete in a series of three bouts, as follows:

  1. Fourth- and third-place winners face off (400 seconds)
  2. Victor of bout #1 faces the second-place winner (400 seconds)
  3. Victor of bout #2 faces the first-place winner (500 seconds)
  4. victor of bout #3 receives an additional $2,000,000.

In the season finale, Andrew Kravis defeated Brandon Saunders to win the grand prize. Seacrest then announced that Kravis' total of $2,326,346 would be increased to $2,600,000; this made him the biggest regular-season winner on a single American game show ever, surpassing Ken Jennings' $2,522,700 run on Jeopardy! in 2004.

Million Second Quiz promo.jpg

Chinese Version[]

An equally short-lived Chinese version aired on Hunan TV on September 30, 2015 hosted by Kevin Tsai, SNH48 and four other local female presenters would co-present the show live along with Tsai at non-primetime. It ran for eight days constantly as the special transmission for the National Day holiday. The only sole winner of the series alone was Shen Jiaxin with the grand total of RMB 1,135,000 (US$178,574 or EURO158,648) pre-tax.


Stephen Lambert


"All Night" by Icona Pop


Official Site
The Million Second Quiz @ Game Show Garbage