|Jimmy Kimmel (1997-2000)|
Nancy Pimental (2000-2001)
Sal Iacono (2002-2003)
|Valleycrest Productions/Comedy Central|
|Buena Vista Television|
1997: "Hello. I'm Ben Stein. And today, I'm going to make history. I'm going to put up $5,000 of my money. So if you're smart enough, fast enough, and if you've got the guts, you can WIN BEN STEIN'S MONEY!!!"
1998-2001: "Hello. I'm Ben Stein. And today, I'm going to make history. I'm putting up $5,000 that says I know more than you. So if you're smart enough, fast enough, and if you've got the guts, you can WIN BEN STEIN'S MONEY!!!"
2001-2003: "Hello. I'm Ben Stein. My brain is a miraculous instrument. It contains the information I use to protect my money--$5,000. I'll put it up, but I won't give it up without a fight. But if you're smart enough, quick enough, and lucky enough, you can WIN BEN STEIN'S MONEY!!!"
REST OF SPIEL: And Now, (Please Welcome), (insert funny comment here), BEN STEIN! Ben: (insert funny quote here) and tonight/today I'm going to put up/putting up $5000 of my money! And I'm giving these three totally strange strangers a chance to win all away from me if they've got (insert funny comment)/(They can take it all away from me) if they're smart enough, quick enough, and lucky enough.
Now, why have I done this? Call me crazy.
AUDIENCE: YOU'RE CRAZY!
But also call me fairly sure that they don't have a chance against me!
Now let's turn to the (insert funny comment here), Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono! Tell us about these (insert funny names)!
Three contestants compete in a Q & A game against each other and eventually Ben Stein in an attempt to win $5,000 of his money.
The First Two RoundsEdit
In the first two rounds, the players involved faced a game board of five categories inside five picture frames (in the first season they appeared as cards, but in season two and beyond, the cards were replaced with monitors). Each category was a pun hinting at the question's content, similar to Pyramid or the JD Roberto era of Shop 'Til You Drop. A player in control picked a category, then a dollar amount was revealed behind it after which a question was read (the questions were just heard in the first season, but in the rest of the series, the questions were also seen on the monitor the chosen category appeared after the amount was revealed). The first player to buzz-in with a correct answer scored the hidden dollar amount, plus that amount was taken away from Ben's total. After each question, a new category replaced the one chosen. The rounds were played in an unmentioned time limit, and time was called when a cuckoo sounded. The player with the lowest amount at the end of each round was eliminated from the game, and all the money he/she took was returned to Ben & added back to his total. Also, if at any point a player answered in the form of a question (as on Jeopardy!); Stein, in mock anger, would place a dunce cap onto the offending player's head and he/she was forced to wear it for the rest of the round.
In round one, the three contestants faced-off against each other, and Ben read all the questions. The questions were worth either $50, $100 or $150. Each time a player answered the first question correctly for the amount showing, that player had a chance to answer a $50 follow-up question; should all three players miss the first question, the follow-up became a toss-up for all three players. If there's a tie for second place after this round, a tiebreaker question is asked, and if the player answers the question correctly, the player moves on, however, if the player answers the question incorrectly, the opponent moves on to Round 2.
In round two, the survivors of the first round played not only against each other, but against Ben as well as he became a common contestant trying to defend his money; because of that, the co-host read all the questions, with the disclaimer that "from this point on, Ben has no advance knowledge of any of the questions to be asked." Ben always stands at the third podium for the second round. If the contestant got eliminated from the third podium, Ben simply takes over that spot. If the contestant got eliminated from the second player, one contestant moved one spot closer to make way for Ben entering the third podium. And if the contestant got eliminated from the first podium, both contestants move one spot over or the contestant from the third podium moves to the first podium to make way for Ben entering the third podium. This time the question values increased to the range of $200-$500 in $100 increments to the contestants should they get them right; but if Ben got a question right each time, his remaining total stayed the same. To accommodate this, the scoring display on his podium showed a dollar sign. Ben made the first selection in this round, and there were no follow-up questions this round. The player with the most money at the end of this round got to keep it and went on to take on Ben Stein for the rest of his money. If there's a tie, a tiebreaker question is asked (without Stein answering), if the player answers the question correctly, the player moves to the Bonus Round, and if the player answers the question incorrectly, the opponent automatically went to the Bonus Round.
Best of 10 Test of KnowledgeEdit
The bonus round was called the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge because both the winning contestant & Ben were both asked the same ten questions, but they played individually/one at a time. To start, the winning player had a choice to go first or second, then they sat in their own isolation booths (the winning contestant sat in a dirty plain wrap booth, while Ben sat in a beautifully decorated one). Whoever played second wore headphones so they could not hear the other's answers. Each player had 60 seconds (one minute) to answer as many of those 10 questions as they can, and the player who answered the most out of ten won. Missed or passed questions could not be returned to, but the co-host went over any and all of them after the first player finished. If Ben won, then the contestant took home just the money he/she won from the game; if both players were tied, the winning contestant won a $1,000 bonus in addition to the main game cash; and finally if the winning contestant managed to beat Ben Stein and win, he/she won all $5,000 of Ben Stein's money (his/her main game score was augmented to the grand prize amount).
"Ben Stein's Cup" episodeEdit
At the end of the fourth season, three of the best players of the season (who had already won $5,000) returned for a special "Ben Stein's Cup" episode, for a chance to win five times the amount or $25,000. The question values in the main game were multiplied by four; so in Round 1, the question values were $200, $400, and $600; with follow-up questions worth $200, and in Round 2, the questions were worth $800-$2,000 in increments of $400. The winner attempted to beat Ben Stein for the entire $25,000.
Ben Stein's Intro - "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Open/2nd Commercial Outro/Win - "Ode to Joy" by Ludwig Von Beethoven
Close - "Ride of the Valkyries " by Richard Wagner (this was also played in the contestants' headphones in the isolation booth, to prevent them from hearing the other contestant's answers)
1st Commercial Intro - "Water Music" by George Frederic Handel
1st Commercial Outro - "Spring" by Antonio Vivaldi
2nd Commercial Intro - "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
3rd Commercial Intro - "Trepak" by Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky
3rd Commercial Outro - "Night on Bald Mountain" by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
At one time during the third season, Ben & Jimmy traded jobs for one episode up to the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge.
A second season episode was one of the most talked about, for on that show, Ben was forced to strip. At first during the second round, Ben took off his shoes, but the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge was where the unthinkable happened; for when the winning contestant (whose name is Bob) won that round, Ben was forced to take off his pants (except he did it briefly). Upon Ben's brief stripping, Jimmy completely took his pants off, and then the winning contestant did a brief stripping himself. Also what makes this show memorable was that Bob was the first to get all ten questions right (Ben answered nine).
Ben & Jimmy (as well as the contestants) would participate in special themed episodes, including a flashback to the sixties.
GSN's website once had a live interactive game where you can play along with the show.
An unsuccessful Australian version called Win Roy & H.G.'s Money hosted by "Rampaging" Roy Slaven and H.G. Nelson ran on the Seven Network for a brief period in 2000. The grand prize for this version was also $5,000.
A short-lived United Kingdom version called Win Beadle's Money hosted by the late Jeremy Beadle ran on Channel 5 for a brief period in 1999. The grand prize for this version was a thousand pounds.
"Contestants, good luck. You're gonna need it. Everyone, please turn your attention to our game board, as Jimmy/Nancy/Sal tells us our first five topics." - Ben Stein.
"In the first round, questions are worth anywhere from $50 to $150 of my money. Any time you manage to answer the question correctly, you win money, and I lose it". - Ben Stein.
"Before I lose anymore cash it's time to take a break. when we come back we'll see how much more these (funny insult) can take away from me right after this" Ben Stein
"We're back with more of Win MY, Ben Stein's Money. Right now (insert leading contestant) has (insert score) of my money. Jimmy/Nancy/Sal, what's our new category?" - Ben Stein (telling Jimmy/Nancy/Sal what's the new category coming out of the 1st commercial break.)
"(Insert category). And (Contestant with the last correct answer), you had the last correct answer, so you'll get to pick first." - Jimmy Kimmel
"We have less than two minutes left in this round." - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono (whenever there's less than two minutes left during Round 1.)
"(Cuckoo sounds) And that is the end of the First Round. (Insert leading contestant) has (insert score) of Ben's money, (Insert second place contestant) has (insert score) of Ben's Money. And (Last place contestant), unfortunately I'm afraid." - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono
"Since you've only managed to take (insert lowest score) away from me, and that means we have to say goodbye and it also means I have to take back your (insert lowest score), you thought you've won." - Ben Stein (talking to the last place contestant after Round 1.)
"When we come back, these two Survivors/(funny insults) can try to get deeper into my wallet. And I will defend my money by actually becoming a contestant. Stay tuned, you might learn something/I dare you." - Ben Stein (at the start of the commercial break after Round 1.)
"Now we'll see just how smart Ben really is as we play more of Win Ben Stein's Money!" - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono (at the start of Round 2)
"Welcome back. As this round begins, (Contestant #1) has (Contestant #1's score) of my money, (Contestant #2) has (Contestant #2's score) of my money, and I have a mere (remaining total) remaining of my original $5,000 stake, which I will now defend by becoming a common contestant!" (stands at the 3rd player's podium, which now has his name on the plate and dollar sign on the scoreboard) - Ben Stein
"From this point forward, Ben has no advance knowledge of any of the questions to be asked. Isn't that right, Ben?" - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono (giving the Round 2 disclaimer)
"Sadly, yes. And I'm also sad to say that the dollar amounts have obscenely risen to $200 to $500 of my money, that's if you (the two remaining contestants) get them right. If I get them right, my total remains the same, but thankfully none of my money is taken away." -Ben Stein
"And whoever has the highest score at the end of this round, whether it be (Contestant #1) or (Contestant #2), gets to play against Ben one-on-one for $5,000." - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono (disclaimer, continued)
"Ben, it's your money, you'll get to pick first." - Jimmy Kimmel.
"We have less than one minute left in this round." - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono (whenever there's less than one minute left during Round 2.)
"(Cuckoo sounds). That sound means the round is over. Congratulations (insert winning contestant), you have (insert score) of Ben's Money. And that means we have to say good-bye to (insert losing contestant). - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono
"(Insert losing contestant), you've been a worthy competitor, but you're in history. Since you're leaving, I have to take back your (lowest score) added back to my total. - Ben Stein (talking to the losing contestant after Round 2.)
Now, we've reached a final financial crush, you (winning contestant), maybe in moments of winning it all $5,000 of my money. That is if you're smarter, quicker, and luckier than I am. Stay tuned, it could get ugly/you might learn something./Stay in your seats. we'll be right back." - Ben Stein (at the start of commercial break after Round 2.)
Bonus Round CatchphrasesEdit
"Now we'll see if (insert champion's name) can win $5000 of Ben Stein's Money!" - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono (at the start of the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge)
"Thank you, Jimmy/Nancy/Sal. (champion), congratulations. Now it's down to just you and me. So far, you've taken (main game score) away from me, and that is yours to keep no matter what happens. And now you have a chance, albeit a small one/I'd say a pretty darn good one, to walk out of here with all $5,000 of my cash, which Jimmy/Nancy/Sal is now wheeling towards us in this safe. All you have to do is beat me in what we call the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge. Could you explain it to our champion please, Jimmy/Nancy/Sal?" - Ben Stein
"Yes, Ben. (champion), I'm going to ask you and Ben the same 10 questions. If you can answer more of them than the mighty Mr. Stein, you'll win all $5,000 of his money." - Jimmy Kimmel/Nancy Pimental/Sal Iacono (explaining the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge)
"As always, I swear on (unusual object) that I have no knowledge of the questions that will be asked." - Ben Stein (explaining the bonus round disclaimer)
"I will do my best." - Ben Stein
"(Well done), you just got $5000 of Ben Stein's money! That was a very well played game! I bow to your superior knowledge! I'm impressed, I'm humbled, I hate you, get out of here, now take the money and leave, you've done enough damage here!" - Ben Stein (when he failed to beat the contestants' score)
"Well, I'm very relieved you didn't get my $5,000. However, I am humbled you'll be walking out of here with (insert main game score) of my money. So far, I managed to successfully defend (money left), which I will use to take on my next opponents." - Ben Stein (when he beat the contestants' score)
"Well, I'm very relieved you didn't beat me. However, for proving you're my intellectual equal, I'm going to give you an extra $1,000 to go with the (insert main game score); so you're leaving with a total of (insert final total) of my money. That means that today I've manged to successfully defend (money left), which I will use to take on my next opponents." - Ben Stein (when he and the contestant tied)
"I challenge everyone to write, call, or e-mail to futility.com; in the hope, as infinitesimal as it might be, that on some distant planet, on some distant day, you might Win (echoing)... Ben (echoing)... Stein's (echoing)... Money (echoing)!" - Ben Stein (1)
"We're out of time. Until next time, when I give three more people a chance to Win (echoing)... Ben (echoing)... Stein's (echoing)... Money (echoing)!" - Ben Stein (2)