‘Press Your Luck’ game show ‘scandal’ back in the spotlight

“Press Your Luck” returns Tuesday night time on ABC — 35 years after its infamous “scandal” when unemployed ice cream truck driver Michael Larson, carrying a thrift-store sports activities actions coat, obtained higher than $110,000 in a seemingly random vogue.

James Holzhauer’s newest 33-game run on “Jeopardy!” has turned a spotlight back onto game reveals, so the timing is fortuitous for “Press Your Luck,” hosted by Elizabeth Banks and airing in prime time (10 p.m.) not like the CBS genuine, which aired in the daytime with host Peter Tomarken.

That mannequin closing aired in 1986, nonetheless, will eternally be remembered in game-show annals for Larson, who subsequently revealed the secret to his astonishing victory: he’d spent the earlier yr studying “Press Your Luck” episodes on his VCR, memorizing the game board’s 5 cash-winning patterns.

CBS thought of conserving his dough, nonetheless, in the end, coughed it up — since Larson technically didn’t break any tips.

Larson’s victory was an enormous deal in an interval when “The $25,000 Pyramid” was TV’s best cash prize; his unprecedented win and unorthodox methodology impressed a 2003 Game Show Network documentary, “Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal,” which dissected his one and solely game proper right down to his eye actions and the manner he positioned every of his palms over the show’s buzzer to strike quickly — not like his opponents Ed Long and Janie Litras Dakin, who used one hand.

Dakin, reached by phone, recalled that fateful day. “You don’t know who you’re playing against and I thought I could beat this guy easily,” she says. “Here’s this guy who needed grooming and bought a sports coat at a thrift store on his way in [to play the game]. I just knew I could beat him. I was there to win.”

After flubbing his first spin — and a landing on the thought of considered one of the show’s dreaded “Whammy,” which reset his ranking to zero — Larson was practically unstoppable as Long and Dakin could solely sit back and watch in amazement. Tomarken was virtually speechless. “[Larson] just knew the board and when it was happening we were like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ ” says Dakin. “We had been like, ‘This is crazy. It isn’t precise.’ I obtained only one consolation prize. What I do bear in thoughts is that I answered all the questions precisely and purchased some good spins and I felt really good about it. I was really good at trivia.

“As it went on I used to be pondering, ‘Is this “Candid Camera” or one thing? There’s one factor incorrect proper right here, come on.’ I was merely out to win money with little infants at residence. Ed and I talked afterward and we had been like, ‘What just happened?’ Everyone was buzzing spherical and [Larson] admitted pretty quickly afterward how he did it.”

Larson’s 15 minutes of fame didn’t close. In the years following “Press Your Luck,” he misplaced most of his money in a succession of get-rich-quick schemes. When he died in 1999 from throat most cancers, at the age of 49, he was being investigated for fraud by the SEC, FBI and IRS.

“When everything came out [about Larson’s m.o. on ‘Press Your Luck’] it made more sense,” says Dakin, who appeared various years afterward an episode of “The Price Is Right” with Bob Barker (she didn’t win). “The VCR had nearly merely come out and he merely figured it out. I assume it shocked the group nonetheless it made sense and they also honored [his win] and paid him his money, which was good.

“It was a superb show, an enjoyable show and was quick, with quick gamers,” she says. “I’m glad they’re bringing it back.”

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