Win Ben Stein's Money
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|Win Ben Stein's Money|
|Created by||Al Burton
|Directed by||Dennis Rosenblatt|
|Presented by||Ben Stein
Jimmy Kimmel (1997–2000)
Nancy Pimental (2000–2001)
Sal Iacono (2002–2003)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||715|
|Executive producer(s)||Byron Glore
Andrew J. Golder
|Location(s)||Hollywood Center Studios
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Buena Vista Television
Valleycrest Productions, Ltd.
|Original channel||Comedy Central|
|Original run||July 28, 1997– January 31, 2003|
Win Ben Stein's Money is an American television game show that ran from July 28, 1997 to January 31, 2003 on the Comedy Central cable network with episodes airing until May 8, 2003. It featured three contestants who competed in a general knowledge quiz contest to win the grand prize of $5,000 from the show's host, Ben Stein. In the second half of the show, Stein participated as a "common contestant" in order to defend his money from being taken by his competitors. The show won five Daytime Emmy awards; Stein and Jimmy Kimmel, the show's original co-host, shared the Outstanding Game Show Host award in 1999.
As noted in a disclaimer during the closing credits, prize money won by contestants was actually paid from a prize budget furnished by the producers of the show. Any money left over in that budget at the end of a season was given to Stein. If the total amount paid out during a season exceeded that budget, the production company paid the excess, so Stein was never at any risk of losing money out-of-pocket.
Stein's co-host was Jimmy Kimmel for the first three years of the show's run. Kimmel left in 2000 (though he did make occasional guest appearances afterward and even hosted College Week episodes in 2001). Nancy Pimental replaced Kimmel and co-hosted the show through 2001. Kimmel's cousin, Sal Iacono, who took over the role in 2002, was the show's last co-host.
Game format 
Round 1 
The game began with three contestants and United States dollar $5,000 in Stein's bank. Five categories were always available for players to choose from, with punning (and sometimes raunchy) titles hinting at the questions' content. After a player chose a category, Stein would ask a toss-up question that was assigned a dollar value, depending on the level of difficulty; questions in this first round could be worth $50, $100, or $150.
Players were equipped with signaling devices; the first player to ring in on the toss-up earned the right to answer the question. If the player answered correctly, the question's value was deducted from Stein's bank and added to the contestant's score; if the answer was incorrect, the other two players could ring in and attempt to answer. After a player gave a correct answer, Stein would ask that contestant a follow-up question on the same category for an additional $50. Again, if the player answered incorrectly, either of the other two players could ring in and attempt to answer. If none of the players correctly answered the original toss-up, the follow-up question became a second toss-up on which all three players were eligible to ring in and answer the question correctly for $50. After both questions were asked, a new category replaced the old one and the player who had given the last correct answer got to choose the next category.
At the end of the first round, the contestant with the lowest score was eliminated from the game and that player's money (if any) was added back into Stein's bank. If there was a tie for second place after the first round, a tie-breaker question would be asked to determine which player would advance to the next round. In a tie-breaker, a player who answered incorrectly was immediately eliminated.
Round 2 
In round 2, Stein himself defended his money by becoming a contestant, replacing the player eliminated at the end of the first round and competing against the two remaining contestants. The co-host took over asking the questions, with the disclaimer that "from this point on, Ben has no advance knowledge of any of the questions to be asked."
Like the first round, the second round also contained five categories at a time, but the question values increased to the range of $200 to $500 in increments of $100, depending on difficulty. All questions in this round were toss-ups, with no follow-up questions asked. Stein would choose the first question. As in the earlier round, any money earned by the other two players was deducted from Stein's bank. When Stein answered a question correctly, his bank total simply remained unchanged (since whatever was in the bank was considered to be his total and was already displayed, his podium's scoreboard simply displayed a dollar sign).
At the end of this round the lower scoring contestant was again eliminated from the game, with that player's winnings going back into Stein's bank. The other player kept their money and advanced to the bonus round to compete head-to-head against Stein for the grand prize of $5,000. In the event of a tie, a tie-breaker question was again used to decide which player would advance (without Stein answering).
If at any point in the first two rounds of play (excluding tie-breaker questions) a contestant responded in the form of a question—as is the method of response on Jeopardy!—Stein or the co-host would place a dunce cap on the contestant, who then wore it for the duration of the game (though on occasion Ben would remove it earlier). This did not, however, affect the scoring.
Best of Ten Test of Knowledge 
In the bonus round, both Stein and the winner of the second round were placed in isolation booths so that neither could hear the other player's answers. The contestant had the choice of playing first or second. Questions which were passed or answered incorrectly could not be returned to during the round. Whoever played first was given 60 seconds to answer as many of ten questions correctly. After the first person played the round, the other was given 60 seconds to answer the same ten questions. Also, whoever played second wore headphones while their opponent played the first part of the round so their answers could not be heard.
If the contestant answered more questions correctly than Stein, the contestant won all of the $5,000 that Stein had put into the bank at the beginning of the show. If Stein answered more questions correctly, the contestant kept only the money won in the first two rounds. If both gave the same number of correct answers, the contestant kept their winnings from the first two rounds plus an additional $1,000.
The isolation booth for the contestant was plain, with a hardwood stool and a bare hanging light bulb, while Stein's booth was more luxurious, with a leather wing-back chair and other lavish furnishings. In later seasons, the contestant's isolation booth was made to appear in disrepair, with a large crack running down the back wall.
"Ben Stein's Cup" episode 
At the halfway point and the end of the fourth season, three of the best players of the season who had earlier won $5,000 returned for a special "Ben Stein's Cup" episode, for a chance to win $25,000. In Round 1, the question values were $200, $400, and $600; with follow-up questions worth $200. In Round 2, the questions were worth $800 to $2,000 in increments of $400. The winner attempted to defeat Stein for the entire $25,000.
Versions outside the United States 
Various pieces of classical music were used as the themes. The opening theme was the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Ode to Joy, which was repeated to begin the second round, and again if the champion won the $5,000. The closing theme was Ride of the Valkyries, from Richard Wagner's The Valkyrie. (The Ride of the Valkyries was also played in the contestants' headphones in the isolation booth, to prevent them from hearing the other contestant's answers.) Other classical music pieces used on the show included:
- Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme by Johann Sebastian Bach (at the beginning of the show where Stein introduces himself).
- Water Music by George Frideric Handel (leading to first commercial break).
- Spring from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi (Coming out of the first commercial break).
- Eine kleine Nachtmusik by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (leading into the second commercial break).
- Trepak (a/k/a "The Russian Dance") from The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (used to segue to the final commercial break).
- Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky (coming out of the final commercial break and cuing to the final round).
- "Awards section of Win Ben Stein's Money entry on imdb.com". imdb.com. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
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|Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show
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