The Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Game Show is a 30 minute game show that aired first in prime time and then in syndication on the FOX Network. Contestants must answer questions whose answers can be found in elementary school textbooks with the most difficult ones being those geared towards fith graders. If the contesant answers all 10 questions correctly, they could win up to one million dollars (on the primetime version). If they missed a question, they lost everything earned up to that point if they hadn't reached the $25,000 level. If they had exceeded the $25,000 level and guessed incorrectly they simply dropped their winnings back to $25,000. There are also five students of about fifth grade age who give the contestants some help with the answers (see trivia below).
Smarter Than a Fifth Grader CastJeff Foxworthy ............ Host
Smarter Than a Fifth Grader Trivia
The contestants get one "save" when they answer their first question incorrectly. If the student they chose to help them has the correct answer they get the money for that question and move on in the game. After that they get two more "helps" from the students. One time when they don't know the answer or aren't sure of their answer they can "copy" the student. If the student has the correct answer, they move on. They can also "peek" one time at the student's answer and then decide whether to use it or to use one of their own. No student can help the contestant more than twice per game. Then a new "helper" must be selected for the final "cheat". Cheats can not be used for the final bonus question even if they haven't all been used.
The students' answers are often used to "worry" the contestant. If the contestant, for example, has elected to not use a cheat and their "save" is already gone Jeff Foxworthy will often tell them that the student's answer is different from their answer. Then after a drawn out pause he reveals whether they got it correct or not.
Jeff Foxworthy graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology, otherwise known as Georgia Tech. His father worked at IBM and that's where Jeff went after college graduation. His friends goaded him one night into getting up on stage at a comedy club on open mike night and that was the end of IBM. Jeff developed a successful stand-up career and besides hosting Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, he has also starred on the "Jeff Foxworthy Show" and on "Blue Collar TV". At the time this is being written (2010), Jeff has two movies in production so we'll be seeing more of him soon!
Once Smarter Than a Fifth Grader moved from prime time to sydication its budget was cut and the maximum prize was reduced to $250,000. The contestant could earn up to $25,000 by answering all 10 questions correctly and then if they answered a bonus question they could multiply their winnings by ten times. On this version if they got a question wrong they lost everything up to that point but they could go on to rebuild a nest egg. If they ended out with $5,000, for example, for the first ten questions they could still multiply that by ten times too. In the prime time version, once they answered any question incorrectly, the game was over.
Only two contestants were able to win the full one million dollar prize. Ken Jenning who had lost his title as "All time biggest game show winner" to Brad Rutter on the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions regained that title when he won $500,000 on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader. After dropping out at the one million dollar level, he answered the final question correctly so he could have been a million dollar winner!
Gene Simmons of the band "KISS" and the realtiy TV show "Gene Simmons: Family Jewels" won $500,000 for his charity, "The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation" on the show. After dropping out he tried the million dollar question and missed it so it's good he knew when to quit!
Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader has sometimes been criticized for giving the student "helpers" a study guide of possible question topics before the beginning of the season. It should be noted that they are not given just questions and answers. They are given study materials that cover the subjects that the questions will entail. Also, their studying helps the contestants earn more money so there's no corruption on the part of the show. It does, however, magnify the apparent IQ of the students and, therefore, makes the contestants appear more unknowledgeable and and makes we audience members feel less intelligent compared to the fifth graders. The students have recently studied the subjects and the contestants haven't studied them for many years.
Another aspect of the show that magnifies the intellect of the fifth graders is that the questions tend to be about subjects that do not pertain to everyday life. In other words, it's not necessarily the stuff that people need to remember.
Contestant either leave the show by dropping out (quitting) or flunking out (missing a question). In either case they must look right into the camera and say, "My name is _______ and I'm not smarter than a fifth grader". For the few contestants who have answered every single question correctly, they get to say, "My name is ______ and I'm smarter than a fifth grader!
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