Part of the opening to the game which served as the shows title card.
|Created by||Michael Dubelko
|Presented by||Ahmad Rashād|
|Narrated by||Steve Day|
|Theme music composer||Stormy Sacks|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||155|
|Executive producer(s)||Rick Rosner|
|Location(s)||Caesars Palace, Las Vegas|
|Running time||approx. 26 Minutes|
|Original run||June 14, 1993– January 14, 1994|
Caesars Challenge is an American game show that aired on NBC from June 14, 1993 to January 14, 1994. The show emanated from Caesars Palace in Paradise, Nevada, and drew its name from the casino. Ahmad Rashad, who at the time was working for NBC Sports, hosted the program and was assisted by a man dressed as a Roman gladiator. Chad Brown was the first assistant and was replaced first by Zach Ruby and then by Dan Doherty, who played the role for most of the show's thirty-one week run. Steve Day was the announcer.
The show was produced by Rosner Television, which had previously produced Just Men! for NBC and a revival of Hollywood Squares, in association with Stephen J. Cannell Productions. Caesars Challenge, was NBC's last daytime game show.
Three contestants competed, and three rounds were played. The object in each round was to solve a jumbled word displayed on a 9-screen slot machine on stage. Seven-letter words were used in round one, eight-letter words in round two and nine-letter words in round three.
Each new word fit into a category that was originally revealed to everyone, but later only revealed to home viewers. Rashad asked the players a toss-up question with three choices based on the category, and a player who buzzed in with the correct answer won money and the right to choose a letter to be placed into the word. Correct answers paid off at $100 in the first round, $200 in the second round, and $300 in the third round. If two of the three players failed to answer any question correctly, the money and letter choice were awarded to the third player by default.
After the player's selected letter was placed, he or she was given five seconds to try to guess the word. Doing so won the player additional money based on how many of the letters were not placed; otherwise, play continued until the word was correctly guessed. The first two rounds were played with two words apiece, and the third round was played with as many words as possible played until time ran out.
During the time when the category was only revealed to the home audience, Rashad announced the category of the word to the contestants after the word had been correctly guessed.
In round one, each word was seven letters in length, and the contestant who solved the word received $100 per each unplaced letter. Round two featured eight-letter words, and the unplaced letters were worth $200 each. Round three's words were all nine letters in length and the value for unplaced letters increased to $300.
One of the nine screens in each word was designated the "Lucky Slot", signified by a red border surrounding the screen. If a player placed a letter in the Lucky Slot and solved the puzzle immediately after, he or she won an instant cash jackpot that was added to their score along with the money the player earned from unplaced letters. The Lucky Slot started each day at $500, increased by that amount for each word it wasn't won, and reset to $500 once it was claimed.
If a word was in play when time was called in the third round, signified by the sound of a car horn, the Lucky Slot was taken out of play and the remaining unplaced letters were placed one at a time until someone guessed the word and earned the remaining money left from the unplaced letters. Buzzing in and answering incorrectly during this time locked a player out of the rest of the round.
The player with the most money at the end of the game won a prize package equivalent to his/her cash total (originally, he/she bought prizes with the money) and advanced to the bonus round. The other players left with parting gifts, including dinner for two and tickets to a headliner show at the Circus Maximus showroom at Caesars Palace. In the case of a tie, another speed-up round was played between the tied players.
Caesars Challenge employed two different bonus rounds. The prize in both formats was a car.
The first bonus game format featured a giant bingo cage with 200 lettered balls inside. The cage began to rotate, and as balls came out of the cage, they dropped down a chute onto a ramp. Balls continued to fall from a cage until a dictionary-certified nine-letter word could be formed. Initially, no letters were pulled from the cage until the command was given. Later, as a time-saving measure, some balls were drawn from the cage during the commercial break before the round.
Once a nine-letter dictionary-certified word could be made using the drawn letters, the letters were then displayed on the screen in the order that they rolled out of the cage. The champion was allowed to place one letter for each time they had come to the round to that point, and once the allotment was placed, the champion had ten seconds to guess the word. Doing so won the car and the champion retired undefeated.
The second bonus format was introduced on November 22, 1993, and continued for the remainder of the run. The champion had thirty seconds to unscramble five words, with each one having a different amount of letters. The first word had five letters, and each subsequent word had one more letter than the previous, up to nine letters for the fifth word. The clock started and beginning with the five-letter word, the champion attempted to unscramble each word. Letters were placed into their proper position at a regular interval, and the remaining letters were re-scrambled. Unscrambling all of the words within thirty seconds won the champion the car.
With the addition of this bonus round, the format changed so that while winning the car still retired a champion undefeated, champions were also retired after three days without a car win with only their front game winnings.
During the closing credits of every show, Rashad and Doherty went into the studio audience and gave audience members an opportunity to unscramble five-letter words. Correctly guessing the word won a handful of casino tokens and gold foil-covered chocolate medallions from a bowl held by Doherty.
An Israeli version of the show under the name of Kasino Olami ("Global Casino") was hosted by Michal Zoharetz and has aired on Reshet.
Caesars Challenge aired at 12:30 PM EST replacing Scattergories. The program preceded Days of our Lives. Caesars Challenge suffered against the first half hour of CBS's The Young and the Restless. Some NBC stations preempted the program with local news broadcasts which often aired the entire noon hour. Caesars Challenge was NBC's last game show to air in daytime.
- "Program Listings". TV Guide. 9–15 January 1994.
- "Program Listings". TV Guide. 25 June – 1 July 1994.
- "Program Listings". TV Guide. 29 October – 4 November 1994.