|Mark L. Walberg|
"PREMIERE EPISODE: It's the show that everyone in America has been talking about for the last three months and it's finally here. It is the simplest game on television. One participant, twenty-one questions, and all that is required is the willingness to tell the truth. (insert montage clips) In a quest to win $500,000. People are willing to expose everything about themselves, their families, their lives. (insert montage clips) This is no ordinary game. (insert montage clips) Get ready America, The moment is finally here. (insert montage clip) It's the most anticipated show in the country, and it stars, right, now!"
"MARK: Tonight, in this chair, the only thing that separates a person from $500,000 is twenty-one questions and their ability to answer each one of these questions with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Is there an honest person left in America? Time to come to face (Echo): THE MOMENT OF TRUTH!"
The Moment of Truth features people who are willing to tell the truth about their dark secrets thus destroying their reputation to win up to half a million dollars.
Prior to the show, a contestant was administered a polygraph exam and asked 100 questions (50 questions in Season 1)—many of which were asked again in front of the studio audience during the actual taping of the program. Without knowing the results of the polygraph, he/she was asked 21 of those same questions again on the program, each becoming progressively more personal in nature. If the contestant answered according to the polygraph results, he/she moved on to the next question; however, if he/she lied in his or her answer (as determined by the polygraph) or simply refused to answer a question after it had been asked, the game would end. Each time he/she answered a certain number of questions truthfully, he/she won increasing amounts of money as follows:
If he/she gave a false answer before the $25,000 level of questions, he/she left with nothing; after the $25,000 level, if a false answer was given, the contestant left with $25,000 (during the first season, a false answer on any level caused the player to leave with nothing). The contestant could stop at any time before any question was asked and collect their earnings, but once they herd a question, they had to answer it or lose the game. Answering all 21 questions truthfully, as determined by the polygraph results, won the jackpot of $500,000.
The questions varied, increasing in difficulty and degree of personal nature of the questions. Sometimes, a "surprise guest"—such as an ex-partner or a good friend—would come on the stage and ask a particularly difficult question. Friends, colleagues, and family of the contestant who were gathered near the player had access to a button which could be used to switch out a question once per game if they felt that the nature of the question was too personal, an option which was introduced to them after the third question.
Though no contestant on the shows aired by FOX 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.'" The series required contestants to sign an agreement that they would accept the conclusions drawn by the polygraph examiner.
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.
A board game was released by Selchow & Righter/Hasbro in 2008.
A card game and included a "Lie-Detector" version were released by Cardinal in 2008.
Countries that previously did their versions of The Moment of Truth include:
- Arab World
- Colombia (country that originated the program as Nada mas que la verdad/Nothing but the Truth)
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
Based on the Colombian game show Nada más que la verdad (Nothing but the Truth) by Howard Schultz.