Press Your Luck was renewed in 2020 before making its big return to ABC screens. With the fourth season currently underway, Elizabeth Banks leads the way as contestants try to win cash by pressing a buzzer to answer questions.

Since its return, viewers have been questioning whether the series is rigged. It comes after ice cream man Michael Larson hacked Press Your Luck in 1984 before taking home the most winnings – $110,237 ($283,000 in today’s dollars).

Several viewers remember this unforgettable moment and have recently been asking whether the show is still rigged to this day. Reality Titbit has all the details on its rules and how producers have changed things since then.

ABC's "Press Your Luck" - Season Four
John Fleenor/ABC via Getty Images

Is Press Your Luck rigged?

No. The board has been reprogrammed with 32 patterns to prevent Press Your Luck from being rigged again. Plus, there are federal laws prohibiting the rigging of outcomes of televised competitions.

Since a man called Michael Larson hacked into the program in 1984, producers have worked to ensure that there isn’t a chance of the show being rigged again. The reprogramming ensures nobody can copy his method.

Zachary Flax came close to being the biggest winner ever, securing over $420K but gambling the whole lot to try and win $500K. Back in 2020, Emily Dowler set the record for most money won on the show by bringing home over $400K.

Michael Larson scandal

According to The Hollywood Reporter, in 1984, an ice cream truck driver named Michael Larson made it onto the show. By recording episodes at home on a VCR and playing them back, he discovered that the presumed random patterns of the game board were not random.

He was able to memorize the sequences to help him stop the board where and when he wanted. During the single game, Michael spun a Whammy on his very first turn, before getting 45 consecutive spins without hitting another.

The contestant earned a total of $110,237 in cash and prizes, a record for the highest winnings total in a single appearance on a daytime network game show. The game ran for so long that CBS aired the episode in two parts.

After an investigation, CBS concluded that Larson’s memorization of the board patterns did not constitute cheating and allowed him to keep his winnings. His story was featured on the first episode of GSN series Cover Story in 2018.

Press Your Luck: Show rules

Three contestants compete in each episode, usually a returning champion and two new challengers.

With a $1 million jackpot up for the grabs, a question is read out by the host. For each, the first player to buzz in has a chance to answer. The answer they give becomes the first of three answers for their two opponents to choose from.

A correct buzz-in answer is worth three spins while a correct multiple choice answer is worth one spin. After four questions, the game moves over to the Big Board. A randomizer light is stopped by contestants hitting their buzzer.

The most common spaces offer cash, with an extra spin attached to some of them, and prizes, with some being directional spaces that either allowed the contestant to choose between two or three squares or move their position.

Cash and prize values are added to the contestant’s score, but landing on a Whammy space resets their score to $0. The contestant in the lead at the end wins the game, keeps their winnings, and returns to the next show.

ABC's "Press Your Luck" - Season Four
John Fleenor via Getty Images

Contact: Celine Byford – [email protected]



Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know