Hot Potato Logo no lights
Hot Potato
NBC Daytime, January 23, 1984 - June 29, 1984
Run time
30 Minutes
Bill Cullen
Charlie O'Donnell
NBC Studio 3, Burbank, California

Hot Potato (later as Celebrity Hot Potato) was a game show.

Game FormatEdit

Two teams of three players, each sharing a common bond (e.g., occupation, mothers-to-be, etc.) competed. Cullen read a question and provided the number of answers to the question, which was always at least seven. Questions included both trivia questions with a number of factual answers (for example, naming the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), and survey questions in which a chosen number of the most common responses formed the pool of acceptable answers.

One member of the champion team started the round by either giving an answer or challenging an opponent to answer. If the player gave a correct answer, control passed to the next member of that team in line. Each subsequent member could answer or challenge an opponent. An incorrect answer meant that the player had to sit out the remainder of the question on a bench behind the team's podiums, and the other team then took control. A player would be cautioned if he/she repeated a previous answer; doing so twice on the same turn sent him/her to the bench.

If a player chose to challenge and the chosen opponent gave an incorrect answer, that opponent was eliminated and the challenging team retained control, moving to the next player. If the opponent gave a correct response, their team kept control and the challenging player was eliminated.

After five correct answers, Cullen would read them back for the contestants. Teams could win a question in one of two ways: by giving a seventh correct answer to the question (regardless of who gave the first six, and regardless of how many correct answers a question had) or by eliminating all three of their opponents.

The first team to win two rounds won the game, $1,000, and the right to advance to the bonus round. In the pilot, losing teams won $500 if they won a round.

A "Seven Straight Jackpot" was later offered to any team that gave seven correct answers in a row without making a mistake or challenging. The jackpot started at $500 and increased by that amount for each match it was not won. This bonus was discontinued the day the format became Celebrity Hot Potato.

Bonus gameEdit

The winning team was given a subject of comparison (e.g., which weighs more, which group has more members, matching tourist attractions to the correct city, etc.), and shown two possible choices. The team debated and then made their choice. If correct, they won $500 and continued. The team could stop at any time and take the money, and they could pass on one question if they wished. However, if they passed, they were required to answer an alternate question.

A mistake at any point ended the round and lost all accumulated money therein. Getting five correct answers won a jackpot that started at $5,000 and increased by that amount each game it went unclaimed. The jackpot reset to $5,000 each time a new champion team was crowned.

Pilot Bonus RoundEdit

Not much is different except for these differences:

  • There were seven pairs of choices instead of six.
  • For the first three pairs instead of answering together, each member of the winning team answered individually for $200/correct answer. The money earned in those questions was used as stake money to create a base amount up to $600.
  • Next the remaining four pairs of choices were played in a "double or nothing" fashion; instead of stopping in between choices, the winning team can stop during choices. The maximum payoff was $9,600.
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Hot Potato was Bill Cullen's last network game show, and his second to last game show overall. When the show was canceled, Bill then hosted The Joker's Wild after original host & producer Jack Barry died.

The saddest thing about the show was the fact that it aired at noontime everyday, which was the timeslot for newscasts.

The show was mostly remembered by its giant Hot Potato sign with steam coming out of it at the start and end of the show. The sign was risen to reveal the bonus board.

The theme song was different on the pilot than on the series. The series used the Play the Percentages bonus round win music when a team won the match or the bonus round.

International VersionsEdit



Production Slate (Pilot)Edit

Ticket PlugEdit

Episode StatusEdit


Hot Potato Pilot (1983)

Hot Potato Pilot (1983)

Hot Potato contestant plug, 1984

Hot Potato contestant plug, 1984

Hot Potato (February 29, 1984) Dentists vs Air Traffic Controllers

Hot Potato (February 29, 1984) Dentists vs Air Traffic Controllers

See AlsoEdit


Adam Nedeff's Hot Potato Page
Adam Nedeff's older Hot Potato Page
David Livingston's Hot Potato Page
Xanfan's Hot Potato Page
Xanfan's older Hot Potato Page
Josh Rebich's Hot Potato Rule Sheet