Cash Explosion

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Cash Explosion (Double Play)
Presented byBob Grossi (1987–1988)
Paul Tapié (1988–2004)
Mike Armstrong (2000)
Michele Duda (2004–2006)
David McCreary (2007–present)
Sharon Bicknell (1987–2004, 2007–2017)
Leilani Barrett (2004–2006)
Cherie McClain (2007–2017)
Alissa Henry (2017–present)
Special Correspondent:
Barb McCann (2007–2008)
Lottery Drawing Hosts:
Karen Harris (1987–2013)
Bob Becker (1992–2013)
Karen Kolliacks (2007–present)
Eric Marks (2009–2018)
Cherie McClain (2017–present)
Sharon Bicknell (2017–present)
Davis Aguila (2018-present)
Narrated byJohn E. Douglas (1987–2006)
David McCreary (2018-present)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes1,433
Running time22 minutes
Original networkSyndicated (Ohio only)
Picture format480i (SDTV)
1080i/720p (16:9 HDTV)
Original releaseFebruary 7, 1987 (1987-02-07) – September 30, 2006 (2006-09-30)
October 6, 2007 (2007-10-06) – present
External links

Cash Explosion, known as Cash Explosion Double Play from 1989 until 2012, is an official Ohio Lottery TV game show, which is broadcast on television stations throughout Ohio. The show originated in Cleveland and is now taped by Mills James Productions in Columbus, Ohio. Cash Explosion originally aired from February 7, 1987 to September 30, 2006, at which point the Ohio Lottery replaced it with Make Me Famous, Make Me Rich. However, slumping ticket sales and poor ratings prompted the return of the Cash Explosion format a year later, on October 6, 2007, and it has remained on the air since.

Cash Explosion is the longest-running state lottery based game show, surpassing California's The Big Spin, which ended its run on January 10, 2009, after 23 years and 1,213 episodes. As of September 27, 2014, Cash Explosion has run for 26 years and 1,433 episodes.

As of 2016, Cash Explosion is the only weekly lottery game show airing in the United States.


Bob Grossi (then a weather anchor at WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio) was the original host, and was replaced in 1988 by Paul Tapié. Tapié lasted until 2000, when Mike Armstrong took over. After a few months, Armstrong was replaced, again by Tapié, who stayed until February 2004. Sharon Bicknell was the co-host from the beginning until February 2004, returning in 2007 until the present. Michelle Duda and Leilani Barrett took over as hosts in February 2004, and remained through the end of the first run. Regular lottery drawers Karen Harris and Bob Becker (both of whom have since retired) substituted on various occasions. John E. Douglas (Cleveland) has the longest run as the "off stage announcer" from 1987 until 2006.

Following its October 2007 return, David McCreary, who had previously hosted Make Me Famous, Make Me Rich, became the new host with Bicknell returning, and newcomer Cherie McClain also joining the cast.

Barb McCann was Cash Explosion's Special Correspondent from 2007–2008. McCann won a contest during the run of Make Me Famous, Make Me Rich in which viewers voted on their favorite co-host among those auditioning.

Following the 30th Anniversary Special, Alissa Henry became the new co-host (alongside McCreary), replacing both Bicknell and McClain.

First format (1987–1989)[edit]

First round[edit]

Seven contestants, each of whom submitted a Cash Explosion scratchcard ticket with three matching "ENTRY" symbols, competed in a race to reach the top of an eleven step pyramid in order to win $50,000. The losing contestants were each given $1,000.

Each contestant had a box of cards in front of them, numbered –2 to 3, with no zero cards. On their turn each contestant drew a card, then moved up or down the pyramid by the number of spaces indicated. The first person to land on the final square by exact count won $50,000. If a contestant returned to the start line at any point in the game, or if they drew two negative value cards consecutively, they were eliminated from the game.

In every contestant's track was a randomly designated bonus square. Landing on it gave the contestant the option to leave the game and take a new car or stay in the game. Regardless of their decision, once two bonus squares had been revealed, all other bonus squares were voided.

Toward the end of this format, each contestant was staked $1,000. For each legitimate move up or down the track, the contestant won/lost $50 (i.e., a 2 was worth $100 in addition to moving up the track 2 spaces; a –2 decreased their score by $100). Still later, moving up or down was worth $100 per move. Reaching the goal augmented the contestant's total to $50,000, while the others could keep their cash or trade it away for a spin of the wheel in the second round. Those eliminated by penalty still received $1,000.

Second round[edit]

The contestants who had not been eliminated during the course of the game, whether by choice (with the bonus squares) or by penalty, were eligible to trade their winnings and spin a wheel containing various amounts of cash (originally cash and prizes). The odds of spinning something worth more than $1,000 were high, so contestants often spun the wheel.

Second format (1989–2006; 2007–2017)[edit]

Semifinal game[edit]

Cash Explosion Double Play (1989–2009)[edit]

Four people competed in the Semifinal game. The contestants faced a 24-space game board with six columns of four rows. The columns were labeled D-O-U-B-L-E and the rows labeled P-L-A-Y. On a contestant's turn, the columns randomly flashed and the contestant pressed their button to stop the lights on a column, then picked one of the four rows in that column, winning whatever money was behind the space represented by that combination.

The values on the board ranged from $1,000 and $3,200. Also on the board were two spaces marked "double". If chosen, the contestant received another turn and whatever they land on was doubled; if the second pick was also a double, the contestant received a third turn, quadrupling the money found. The third special square was a bonus card, which not only contained a money amount, but also a bonus prize (originally a new car, later $25,000). Originally the contestant had to choose whether he or she wanted the bonus (dropping out of further play if they took it) or the money. Under this rule, the show gained national coverage in 1990 when contestant Pamela Richards turned down a $17,600 Honda Accord because she was a member of a labor union.[1] However, by 1993 contestants were simply awarded both the car and the cash amount hidden behind it.

From 2000–2004, a second bonus prize was added to the board featuring four years of prepaid tuition at any four-year college or university in Ohio, along with extra cash added to make the prize worth $20,000. This was later replaced with Ohio Lottery tickets attached to a dollar amount. In all cases, like the standard Bonus card, the prize value was not added to the score, but the additional dollar amount hidden behind the bonus card was.

The contestant in the lead after each had three turns won the game, had their score doubled (excluding bonuses), and advanced to the Championship Game. All other contestants left the game with whatever they had won.

In the event of a tie for the lead after three rounds, a tiebreaker round was played. Originally, the tying contestants each picked a playing card from a set of eight, with the highest value card winning. These were later replaced by cash amounts from $100 to $800, again with the highest amount winning.

A second semifinal Game is played with four new contestants and a new board, exactly as before.


On October 3, 2009, the board was increased to 36 spaces, and consisted of nine columns of four rows. The columns were labeled E-X-P-L-O-S-I-O-N and the rows labeled C-A-S-H. The cash amounts ranged from $1,500 to $5,000.

The number of special spaces increased from three to nine, with two $10,000 cash bonus squares, one $25,000 bonus square and six double squares. Every time a contestant hit a double square, as before, he or she received an extra turn. However, after finding a double card the contestant randomly stopped on one of the letters in E-X-P-L-O-S-I-O-N above the game board, revealing a dollar amount between $2,000 and $5,000, which was then doubled and added to their score. Later, a bonus prize was hidden among one of the spaces which has the same rule as the cash bonuses.

The tiebreaker round had four amounts hidden behind the letters in the word "cash". As before, the highest score won and the contestant advanced to the Cash Challenge.

Championship Game/Cash Challenge[edit]


The two semifinal winners competed against the returning champion. To begin, a target number between 10 and 17 was selected from a randomizer. The contestants then spun a wheel containing numbers from one to nine and an additional space marked "double", attempting to come as close to the target number without going over. If two or three contestants tied, each contestant picked a playing card from a set of eight. The contestant with the highest card won. Originally, the contestants spun three individual wheels, one for each contestant. Later, this was changed to contestants spinning one wheel.

A first-time champion's winnings were augmented to $50,000, while a two-time champion earned another $50,000 for a total of $100,000. A three-time champion earned another $100,000 for a total of $200,000 and retired from the show.


From 1993–2009, the three contestants names were each hidden three times behind a game board with nine squares total. The contestants took turns selecting squares, uncovering the names behind them. The person whose name was uncovered three times first won the game and the right to return the following week, with the same payout structure for returning champions used from 1989–1993.

Beginning October 3, 2009, three cash bonuses totaling $25,000 (two $10,000 spaces and one $5,000 space) were added to the championship game board which now features a total of twelve spaces. If a contestant selects a bonus space they win that amount of money and control passes to the next contestant in line. Additionally, contestants no longer retire after winning their third game. First-time champions still win a total of $50,000, two-time winners $100,000, and three-time winners $200,000 (bonuses not included). However, a champion wins an additional $100,000 for every subsequent week they win thereafter. Champions can remain on the show until defeated, with no monetary limits or maximum number of appearances. By 2012, the final round was renamed the "Cash Challenge". Under this format, the highest amount awarded was $520,000, which was reached by Terri Waddell on the October 20, 2012 episode, when she was defeated during her record-breaking seventh appearance on the show.

Because the first 2007 show didn't have a returning champion (due to the final winner of Make Me Famous, Make Me Rich choosing to keep her earnings and leave), the two semifinal winners simply played against themselves, with the winner becoming the new returning champion.

As part of the 30th Anniversary season leading up to the XL format, bonus prizes such as vacations, laptops, and gasoline for a year are available under one square in each round.

Cash Explosion XL[edit]

Starting June 3, 2017 and lasting throughout the summer, as part of the 30th Anniversary Celebration, the show modified its format and briefly renamed itself Cash Explosion XL. Under this format, 24 contestants participate in each semifinal game, in teams of three.

Each contestant takes one turn, and all three contestants win whatever total is displayed on their podium. If a double is found, that same contestant hits the button again. If, however, the square chosen reveals a cash bonus, only the contestant who selects the square wins the bonus money. One of the co-hosts (Sharon, Cherie, or David) will bring out a silver or golden bar with the amount written on it to represent the bonus money.[2]

The Cash Challenge is the same as in the regular version, but only one person from the winning team can play; the contestant is chosen via the new "Cash Challenge Qualifier."

Cash Challenge Qualifier[edit]

Nine green squares spell out the word "CHALLENGE," and each hides a number from 1 to 9. Each contestant selects one square, and the contestant with the highest number plays in the Cash Challenge. That same contestant also gets their total doubled, as winners do in the regular version.[3]

Third format (2017–)[edit]

A new format debuted on September 2, 2017. The semifinal round features eight contestants playing individually. Each contestant is presented with their own grid of twenty squares, behind which are hidden various money amounts, two double tiles and one bonus tile. The contestant selects three of the twenty squares, and the values associated with each selection is revealed one at a time. Contestants are ranked by the total amount of their three selections. The two contestants with the highest totals have their banks doubled and advance to the Cash Challenge championship round.

If a contestant reveals a double tile, he or she then selects a letter in the word "spotlight", which is positioned above their game board. The value associated with the letter selected is doubled and added to the contestant's bank.

If a contestant reveals the bonus tile, he or she then makes a selection from the bonus board. On the board are sixteen tiles, each labeled with the name of one of the top Ohio Lottery games (including the Cash Explosion game itself, as well as more common games such as Powerball). Hidden behind each tile is a bonus cash award worth between $10,000 and $50,000, or a $5,000 bonus attached to an instant trip to the Cash Challenge championship round. The contestant makes a selection and wins the associated bonus; however, this amount is not added to the contestant's bank in terms of scoring purposes. Also attached to each tile is a second cash award which is added to the bank.

The Cash Challenge is played as before, with the contestant whose name is revealed three times becoming or continuing as champion; however, no more bonus money is present.

Cancellation and return[edit]

The show was replaced in October 2006 with Make Me Famous, Make Me Rich. However, due to disappointing ratings for that program, the Ohio Lottery announced the show would be replaced by a new version of Cash Explosion on October 6, 2007. All remaining Make Me Famous, Make Me Rich "ENTRY" winners sent in within 180 days of that game's official withdrawal were also eligible for Cash Explosion's return. In that case, anyone who made it on Cash Explosion with a $2 ticket won $2,250 on top of whatever they won.[4]

The champion on the last episode of Make Me Famous, Make Me Rich was offered the choice of playing as returning champion on the first new Cash Explosion, or taking an extra payout of $100,000. She chose the latter option, bringing her total to $171,350.


  1. ^ Healey, James R. (1990-08-16). "Unions Idolize Stalwart TV Winner". USA Today. pp. B2.
  2. ^ Cash Explosion. 3 June 2017.
  3. ^ Cash Explosion. 3 June 2017.
  4. ^ Ohio Lottery (June 18, 2007). "Cash Explosion Double Play: Back by popular demand". Archived from the original on July 3, 2007.

External links[edit]