Bonus Bonanza

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Bonus Bonanza was the official state lottery game show of Massachusetts, running from 1995 to 1998. It was hosted by Brian Tracey and Dawn Hayes. The show was produced at WCVB-TV by Jonathan Goodson Productions, and all of its games and its theme were virtually identical to the Illinois state lottery game show Illinois Instant Riches (later Illinois Luckiest).

Summary of Rules[edit]

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 (as opposed to $100,000 from Illinois Instant Riches; the prize doubled to $200,000 when the bonus game Pot O' Gold was introduced).

Mini-Games[edit]

Vortex[edit]

Contestants were shown 7 balls, 5 yellow and 2 red, arranged in a line. When released, the balls so that the balls spun around a funnel-like table and ended up in the center in a daisy-like pattern (one ball surrounded by the other six). The object was to have a yellow ball in the center.

The contestant was originally spotted $5,000 - later reduced to $3,000 - and asked to pull a lever that released the balls down the table and into the daisy pattern. For the first pull, their money doubled if the center ball was yellow. For the second pull, one of the yellow balls was replaced with a red ball, and their money tripled if the center ball was yellow. They didn't lose anything if a red ball came up in the center for these first two pulls.

The contestant could then stop with their winnings, or opt for a third pull after another yellow ball was replaced by a red ball. For this final pull, they quadrupled their money if the center ball came up yellow, but lost half their money if the center ball came up red. Maximum payout is $72,000.

Danger Ball[edit]

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. Maximum payout is $60,000.

Freefall[edit]

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 8 slots were filled, all three strikes were accumulated, or the contestant chose to quit.

Force Field[edit]

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, then the highest dollar amount remaining on the table would be tripled 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.

Odd Money Wins[edit]

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.

Bonus Game[edit]

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.

Stations[edit]

  • Boston - WCVB
  • New Bedford/Fall River - WLNE