My disgusting fake game show asks "What would you do for money?"

I’ve written before about morality and pride taking a back seat to cash rewards . With today's game shows scraping the bottom of a very deep barrel, it amazes me what people will do for a little cash and a shot at their 15 minutes of fame. It got me wondering…how far will people go for money?

I’m not a rich man by any means, so the idea of setting up fake auditions and filming them went by the wayside pretty quickly when I estimated the costs. But, that didn’t put me off. Surely there was a way to get this done. Then it hit me; I could use the Internet to disperse my message and see if anyone would take the bait. So, several months ago I executed my plan. And after a few days, my inbox started to fill up.

I set myself up with a fake email account, calling myself Jake Bruckenheimer (sounded like a Hollywood-type producer to me…if anyone knows the guy behind such classics as Con Air and The Rock, you’ll get the joke).  And the ad I placed on a variety of free sites covering most of the US went something like this:


How far would you go for money?

From a little extra cash, to a suitcase of dough, we want to know.

Hi, my name is Jake Bruckenheimer and I’m looking for contestants for a unique new game show called Anything Goes!

The premise is simple. We’re not going to force you to do something for money. We’re asking you what you’ll be perfectly willing to do for cash. You set the prize money, you tell us the scenario. If we like the sound of it, you’ll get to do it on TV for your cash prize.

Maybe you’d strip naked on air for $1000.

Or you could be willing to eat a bowl of toenail clippings for $3000.

Would you wrestle an angry pit-bull for $10,000?

You get the idea. Now, we’re not going to let you have your face slapped for a small fortune. And we’re not going to let you shoot your leg off either. But other than that, we’re open to all ideas and all cash prizes. IF you think you’ve got an idea that would warrant a cool million bucks, tell us about it.

The show is not due to air until 2009, so you have plenty of time to think about.

Shock us, surprise us, we’re ready for your crazy ideas.

As you can see, it’s a simple premise that I thought would get a few bites. I was surprised at how many replies I actually got though, so I’m sharing snippets of just a few of the emails with you. I am not printing full names in order to protect the identities of the people who replied. I also contacted every single respondent after the fact, told them of the true nature of the story, and asked if I could reprint the details here, without giving any personally identifiable information out. Almost everyone said yes, although some were genuinely disappointed that the show wasn’t real. Seriously. Those that didn’t agree are not reprinted here, along with many other entries that were duplicate ideas, obscene wagers or unbelievably obscene and depraved acts. 

The majority of entries I got revolved around pain or eating something gross. I guess that’s something I may have prompted with my ad, coupled with the “Fear Factor” effect. Any spelling errors and other misgivings are reprinted here also, so forgive the various typos. All I have changed is the blanking out of a few swear words here and there.

The contestants:

Angela, Des Moines IA - Great idea!! I’ve always been afraid to go in tfor something like Fear Factor cos I’m scared of heights, but this is way cooler. And the name of the show is great! I thought about this for hours, I  h ave the coolest idea. For $20,000 (enough to cover my credit cards debts) I will let you surgically amputate my little finger live on air. I want to feel no pain, and I don’t want to watch. I think that’s something peoplee will really tune in for. Whaddya think? (I think this one scared me the most!)

Darius, Rochester NY - This for real? Sounds legit, but I guess you only want whacky s**t for the show to be a hit. So how  ‘bout this? I’ll eat two big cans of dog food (your choice) live on air for $2500, and if I throw up you get half the money back. How’s that yo?!

John, Boulder CO - That’s the most stupid idea I’ve ever heard in my entire life. I hope no-one answers your puerile ad, but something tells me the economy will force people to do things they’re not proud of. For all our sakes, I hope your show fails, or better yet, never gets off the ground. (This guy’s from my state...I had to put this in).

Vicente, Pomona CA - Hey Jack. I liked your idea about toenails but I’ll go you one better. Put a really fat guy on a treadmill and let him run for 10 minutes. When he’s done, I’ll lick the sweat from both his armpits for $5000. Although I’m open to offers dude.

Patrick, Albany NY - I’d give you my right arm for a million bucks. (Not sure if this one was a joke).

Joanna, Mesa AZ - I’ll eat dog s**t for $10,000. But I’m not eatinga lot. And I want a doctor on set in case somethinbg nasty happens to ,me. Sick enough for ya?

Steve, Aurora IL - This’ll crack the audience up if nothing else. I’ll French kiss a really old grannie for two minutes for $6k. Tongues, false teeth, big ugly warts, like Bush said, bring it on.

Markus, Glendale CA - For $250,000, you can permanently tattoo whatever you want on my forehead, including offensive words, insults or whatever the f**k your audience wants, including the word f**k/ The price is not negotiable, remember I have to live with this forever. (Not completely true, but still…)

Chad, Detroit MI - Thought ‘bout this one for ages, I have the best idea on the planet but it will cost you. I’ve seen these guys who hang from these rings int the skin on their back. Not dangerous enough. I’ll have a ring put in each nipple and one in my d**k, and you can hang me above a the studio audience for a new Ford Mustang V8. (No comment)

Jamie, Kansas City KS - Put me in a car like a crash test dummy and drive me into a wall. I think ti would be cool to see me in a crash in slo mo. I’ll do it for 15 grand. And I want to be patched up on your expense, including any after car.e .

Vincent, Waukegan IL - Sup. yoou can do a body cavity search on me by someone withy really big hands, and all I want in return is $8000k. That’s a deal I think. (I think he meant $8k or $8000, otherwise that’s one hell of an expensive exam!)

Ben, Arlington VA - You ever seen that 40 year old Virgin flick? There’s this seen in the movie where they wax his chest. Cracked me up, It looks really painful and I have way more hair than him. My nickname is beast. You can do that to me for $2000 and a decent steak dinner.

Jase, Orange County CA - Man, we’v e been talking about this for hours. IF nothing else, it’s gave us all a great few hours of BS converstaions. But I got the balls so I fugure I’ll give you my entry. I figure for five large you can give me a nasty chemical burn on my arm. Something that will leave a badass scar. How’s that?

Dade, Miami FL - When I was in college I went to something called the Jim Rose Circus. One of the vile acts, and there were many, involved a guy drinking two pints of beer, then sticking a tube down his throat and pumping the contents of his stomach out into a big jug. Then someone from the audience got on stage and drank it. They barfed. But, they didn’t get paid. I’ll do that for $5k, and it can be something worse than beer…maybe chunky soup? Man, my mouth’s already watering ha ha ha.

Elsa, Providence RI - I’m an old lady, in my 60s, and I think I’m probably the oldest person you’ll have applying for your show (not quite Elsa, there was a 72 year old but his entry was even more pedestrian). I think a show like this sounds fun. I will go sky-diving for $3000.

Brian, Los Angeles CA - Check it. I’ll down a full bottle of Blair’s 3AM hot sauce. It’s got 2 million scoville units, lookit up if you don’t know what that means. That’slike seriously hot. Like burning acid and mega pain death. I’ll do it for $10,000. If that sound like a lot, try one drop of this on your tongue and then you’ll know what this really means. Trust me, you’ll be crying. Get back to me.

There, that should give you an idea of the crazy things that filled my inbox. It’s worth noting that roughly 80% of the replies I received were from men. That could be for a number of reasons, this wasn’t an experiment done under tight controls, but I suspect the main one is that men are just more into crap like this (just look at Jackass).

But what does this all mean? Well, I think there are limits to what we should all be willing to do for the mighty dollar. A story that broke today on the web told of a girl selling her virginity , hoping to get a cool $1million (to put herself through college and probably buy a house). Now, I think that’s taking it way too far. Some have said this is a horrific way to earn money. Others have said that as your first time is usually so bad, why not get something good out of it?

However you feel, I think it comes down to this; does everyone have a price? Do you? Putting yourself in a room full of stinging wasps may not seem like a good idea for $2000, but what if it were $20,000, or $200,000?  In tough economic times when the gap between the rich and the poor is growing, I wonder if the lower echelons of society will one day become part of some vile entertainment for the uber-rich. Not unlike slaves becoming gladiators, or Christians facing lions for the entertainment of the Roman crowds, could we see a time when people will risk life and limb for a shot at financial freedom? I sincerely hope not.

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Guest's picture
Todd A.

Money isn't worth it.

Guest's picture

What stuns me isn't that people have a price, but how low that price is. Sorry, but a few k is just chump change for most of the stunts they're proposing. I guess one person did propose 1M for losing an arm, but that's also ridiculous on several counts.

Guest's picture

My feeling is that TV-watching people are seeing themselves more and more solely as reality-contest entrants. The combination of desperation, recklessness and stupidity is quite depressing. Instead of pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps, we are trying to rocket upwards using a jetpack of hypothetical humiliation and instant celebrification.

But what do I know? I wouldn't even sell my vote for any price.

Guest's picture

I thought this post was incredibly entertaining, but the point you make at the end is what makes it. I hope not too.

Guest's picture

in the UK. A show called The Word had a segment called "I'd do anything to be on TV". As far as I know, no-one was paid. The only reward was being on TV. And what's really interesting is that they did pretty much all of the things listed above. Drinking vomit? Check. French kissing an old lady? Check. Lick sweating from a fat guy just off the treadmill? Check. For free.

Paul Michael's picture

I'm originally from the UK and I'm now more than a little ashamed of my fellow Brits. I do remember a show called The Word, as I recall it was awful! Interesting that some of these showed up in this list, but I guess revolting things are revolting things the world over. How sad.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

HAHAAH this post was hilarious.  The cutting off pinky one is pretty damn scary.  The old lady who said she would skydive is pretty cool I think.  My mom always wants to skydive, and she's 55. 

Guest's picture

At 22 the girl should be paying someone to take her virginity.
And all these people willing to do extreme things for money overestimate their worth. I could pay someone $1000 to do anything to them; and it would be more entertaining since it would be against their will. That said I'd wrestle an angry pit bull for $10,000, but only if the pit bull got the money if I lost.

Guest's picture

Terry Southern's book, "The Magic Christian" was published in 1959, about a character named Guy Grand. As Wikipedia explains: "All his escapades are designed to prove his theory that everyone has got their price — it just depends on the amount one is prepared to pay them."

The movie version of "The Magic Christian," starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, as Guy and Youngman Grand, respectively, was released in 1969. Of the characters, Wikipedia says: "Their misadventures are designed as a display of father Grand to his adoptive charge that "everyone has their price" - it just depends on the amount one is prepared to pay."

Guest's picture

A guy I used to date plays this game with his two brothers. Whenever they are all together they sporadically challenge each other "Will you do X for $Y?" Then the challenged would say yes or no or state at what price he WOULD do the act, and the other two would debate what they'd pay to see it done.

I always thought it was fascinating, and this game/conversation was played consistently over the years. Usually it was embarrassing stuff, not gross, such as addressing a crowded movie theater or putting ketchup on your face for x minutes (in public) or whatever.

Guest's picture

I could not stop laughing at some of these comments they were hysterical.

No amount of money could get me to eat toe nail clippings!

Guest's picture

Some of the replies made me scared, Especially the amputation of finger on live TV, ughh. But frankly the idea and the responses are hilarious:)

Guest's picture

kind of like,"what would you do"....with mark summers

that damn pie machine never hit anything

Guest's picture

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I'm not sure about the former.
Albert Einstein

it really is amazing what knuckleheads will do to get on tv--shut your damn tv OFF!!!!! better yet shoot it.

Guest's picture

I find your article entertaining and shocking. Especially your last paragraph. Who knows how deep the gap will get. I do see a gladiator age apon us.

Guest's picture

I wonder if there'd be any way to view the "obscene wagers or unbelievably obscene and depraved acts" ? I'm always curious about the extent that people will cross over the societal line.

Thanks for writing this~

Guest's picture

for $15,000 i will cut my own finger off with a butcher knife put it in a jar so you can auction on e-bay no pain killers and you pick the finger