The Moment of Truth (American game show)

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The Moment of Truth
The Moment of Truth (U.S. game show).jpg
GenreGame show
Created byHoward Schultz
Based onNada más que la verdad
by Howard Schultz
Directed byRon de Moraes
Presented byMark L. Walberg
Narrated byMitch Lewis
ComposerWilliam Kevin Anderson
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3 (1 unaired)
No. of episodes38 (15 unaired)
Executive producerHoward Schultz
Running time60 minutes (inc. commercials)
Production companyLighthearted Entertainment
Original networkFox
Picture format16:9
Original releaseJanuary 23, 2008 (2008-01-23) –
August 8, 2009 (2009-08-08)

The Moment of Truth is an American game show based on the Colombian Nada más que la verdad format ("Nothing but the Truth"). Contestants answer a series of 21 increasingly personal and embarrassing questions to receive cash prizes. The show is hosted by Mark L. Walberg and ran on the Fox network from January 23, 2008 to August 8, 2009.[1]

On February 1, 2008, Fox ordered an additional 13 episodes of the show, bringing its episode order to 23. It was supposed to be on Fox's fall lineup, but was pushed back to make room for FOX's new game show Hole in the Wall, as well as the season finale of So You Think You Can Dance.[2]


Tier Questions Prize Amount
1 6 $10,000
2 5 $25,000
3 4 $100,000
4 3 $200,000
5 2 $350,000
6 1 $500,000

Prior to the show, a contestant is administered a polygraph exam and asked 100 questions (50 questions in season one)—many of which are asked again in front of the studio audience during the actual taping of the program. Without knowing the results of the polygraph, they are asked 21 of those same questions again on the program, each becoming progressively more personal in nature. If the contestant answers according to the polygraph results, they move on to the next question; however, should a contestant lie in their answer (as determined by the polygraph) or simply refuse to answer a question after it has been asked, the game ends. If they give a false answer before the $25,000 level of questions, they leave with nothing; after the $25,000 level, if a false answer is given, the contestant leaves with $25,000 (during the first season, a false answer on any level caused the player to leave with nothing). For each tier of questions answered correctly, the contestant wins the corresponding amount of money. A contestant may stop at any time before any question is asked and collect their earnings, but once they hear a question, they must answer it or lose the game. Answering all 21 questions truthfully, as determined by the polygraph results, wins the jackpot of $500,000.

The questions vary, increasing in difficulty and degree of personal nature of the questions. Sometimes, a "surprise guest"—such as an ex-partner or a good friend—will come on the stage and ask a particularly difficult question. Friends, colleagues, and family of the contestant who are gathered near the player have access to a button which can be used to switch out a question once per game if they feel that the nature of the question is too personal, an option which is introduced to them after the third question.

Though no contestant on the shows aired by FOX has answered all 21 questions in concert with the polygraph results, according to Mike Darnell, president of alternative entertainment at Fox, "In the vast majority of contestants, 99%, you get, 'Hmm, I was a little worried when I answered that question.'"[3] The series requires contestants to sign an agreement that they will accept the conclusions drawn by the polygraph examiner.[3]

However, one contestant in the unaired second season (S02E09) did answer all 21 questions truthfully to win the top prize. The contestant was Melanie Williams, a member of a secretive polygamist group. Most of the questions centered around the secrets of polygamy and what took place in the group in which Williams was a member. For $500,000, Williams' final question was whether she believed her father had sexual relations as an adult with a minor. She said she felt he did, and the lie detector determined her truthful for the grand prize.[4]


The first episode was the lead out after the highly rated American Idol, and managed to rate very well itself with 23 million viewers, the highest rating for a premiere to that point in 2008.[5]


On the fifth episode, which aired on February 25, 2008,[6] over the course of play, a female contestant truthfully admitted that: she had been fired for stealing from her employer; she felt that her ex-boyfriend (who was present, and asked this question) is the man she should be married to; and that, since her wedding day two years earlier, she had sexual relations with someone other than her husband.[7] After truthfully admitting to these actions, with her mother staring furiously at her and her husband sitting with his head in his hands, she was eliminated – on an all-or-nothing question that could have won her $200,000 (equivalent to $240,000 in 2020) – when she lied by answering that she still believed she is a good person. The intro of this episode featured a disclaimer by host Mark L. Walberg, in which he claimed it was highly debated whether or not the episode should even be aired and he was against it being aired, calling it the most uncomfortable situation he has ever been in on television.[7] The contestant, who could have stopped and left with $100,000 based on her already dramatic revelations, later said that she continued trying to win more money in order to achieve "fame and fortune".[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rice meets the press
  2. ^ Game Show Kingdom: "Moment of Truth" delayed again Archived September 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b James Hibberd (2007-11-25). "Darnell in Defense of the 'Truth': Fox Executive Talks About the Network's Controversial Lie Detector Show". TV Week. Archived from the original on 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  4. ^ Alex Davis (2011-06-24). ""The Moment of Truth" Produces the Most Awkward Jackpot Win Ever". BuzzerBlog. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved 2011-06-28.
  5. ^ All the Young Dudes Tune In for 'MOT,' the Hoopla
  6. ^ a b "Woman Who Admitted to Cheating on 'Moment of Truth' Says She Did It for Money". Fox News. February 27, 2008. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Mark L. Walberg, Lauren Cleri and her family (May 23, 2014). "The Moment of Truth - Episode 5" (video). YouTube. Retrieved January 3, 2017.

External links[edit]