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Radio Contest

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The usual reaction.

This is how in TV shows, a main character will try to win a sum of cash, a car, some type of ticket, or a toy through a radio contest. Common gags include getting a group of friends together and all calling at once to increase odds, getting a whole bunch of phones together and dialing them all, then panicking when trying to find which phone is the winning call. Or just simple trivia, like naming all eight of Santa's reindeer for a Turbo Man toy.

If it's a TV show, attempts to win or unforeseen consequences of winning can be the basis of a whole episode. May lead to a Never Win the Lottery episode.


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  • The very first "Got Milk?" commercial had a historian obsessed with the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr try to answer a trivia question about it to win a contest, but he had peanut butter sticking in his mouth and an empty milk glass, so he couldn't be understood.
  • This 1980s ad for lamb has a girl winning a date with Tom Cruise in a radio contest, but turning it down because her mother is cooking a lamb roast that night.

    Comic Books 
  • Blue Monday: As seen in the page image, Bleu tries this several times to win tickets to an Adam Ant concert.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield:
    • The July 10, 1988 strip has Garfield call in to a radio show to win a new house; unfortunately, while he gets the answer right (by meowing - they asked for the noise a house cat makes), he can't speak human and therefore can't give them his name and address in order to receive the prize.
    • The August 8, 1999 strip uses the "contest holders call a random person and ask the trivia question" variant. Garfield gets the first question (as with the 1988 example, the noise a cat makes) right, but the second is for the noise a dog makes. He responds with "DUHHHHHHH" and says after hanging up that "I doubt I was eligible anyway".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Down Periscope, electrician Nitro accidentally connects Commander Dodge to a radio station instead of Admiral Graham, leading to Dodge winning some concert tickets and T-shirts.
  • The "simple trivia" version was subverted in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, in that the "contest" was a ruse to get the heroine to the killer's island.
  • In Jingle All the Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character has to recite the names of all eight reindeer to win the toy for which he's searching the city.
  • An incredibly minor subplot of the film One Crazy Summer involves the nervous, sleep-deprived uncle of one of the main characters, who spends the entire film hovering over a phone and a radio waiting for the right moment to call the local station and win a million dollars. As the film ends, that moment comes, and his is the lucky call — until he is abruptly disconnected and the next caller becomes the winner. As the credits roll, he takes another character's missile launcher (don't ask) and blows up the station.
  • In Slumdog Millionaire, the protagonist was able to get on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? by calling when the host says, "If", instead of at the end of, "If you want to be on 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire', call this number".
  • In Taking Care of Business the premise of the movie involves a convict winning tickets to the World Series, but still having several days to serve in prison. The contest was simple: Name the first four albums of Led Zeppelin. (Which were, 1,2,3 and lacking a pronounceable name - 4)

  • In one of the children's books about the talking dog Martha, Martha calls in to a radio show and answers a question, winning a weekend for four at an inn, only to discover that the inn does not allow dogs.

     Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of The Amanda Show features a scene where Amanda's self-proclaimed biggest fan, Penelope, has a room full of phones to win a contest to meet Amanda. It actually works against her, as when they call her back to give her the prize she has so many phones that she can't figure out which one is ringing.
  • On Boy Meets World, Shawn tries to win Super Bowl tickets (as part of a special assignment from Mr. Fenney) by sitting on a billboard in the cold. He drops out when an Eskimo enters the contest.
  • This happens in an episode of Charles in Charge, where Charles is not only a great babysitter, but he also knows exactly when to call the radio station to be the tenth caller.
  • Used as a plot for a Designing Women episode. The plot focus is more on the characters preparing for the prize (an all-you-can-grab shopping spree) instead of trying to win.
  • A Drake & Josh episode has Drake entering a radio contest to meet his favorite band and get an autographed guitar when he has to name the eighth planet from the sun.
  • One episode of Full House featured DJ and Kimmy calling in one radio contest for Beach Boys tickets. Not being very good at naming Beach Boys songs, the girls are on the verge of blowing their chance when Danny, Joey, and Jesse (whose own attempt to call in was pre-empted by the girls, and who have been listening downstairs) burst in and shout the answer.
  • In an episode of Hannah Montana, Jackson wins basketball tickets and must decide who to take, his dad or his best friend.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia had an episode where Charlie and Mac won a radio contest for a hockey vacation, with Charlie screaming in delight as the screen went to black for the title card.
  • On Justified US Marshal Raylan Givens is trying to arrest a one-legged hacker who to Raylan's great embarrassment manages to give him the slip. When Raylan finally catches up to the hacker, the man is sorry about causing Raylan so much grief and offers to teach Raylan the secret of how to be "caller number seven" for various radio phone-in contests. In the next episode Raylan is going on a vacation to Florida which is funded by his winnings from a radio contest.
  • The beginning of the Kenan & Kel episode "Aw, Here It Goes Hollywood: Part 1" has the Rockmore family entering a radio contest to anywhere in the world. Kel ends up giving the correct answer, but asks for tickets to an orange soda festival.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has an episode where Cookie spends the entire time hiding with a jacket full of cell phones while trying to win a car. He is finally able, after much difficulty, to succeed... only for it to have been pointless, as most radio contests are for people 18 and up, making him ineligible. If only he'd listened to Moze...
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Wild Goose", Walter Denton, pretending to be a radio quiz host, tricks Mr. Conklin into believing he's won a television set from Sherry's Department Store.


    Video Games 
  • In Twisted Metal: Head-On, Spectre driver Chuckie Floop is in the Twisted Metal contest because he won one of these.

    Western Animation 
  • CatDog: In the episode "Fetch", Cat wins a radio contest and attempts to answer the phone in a time limit of five minutes. But Hilarity Ensues when Winslow throws a ball to bring Dog to chase it all over the town.
  • Classic Disney Shorts: This was the plot of Lucky Number. Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie are busy working at their gas station when a radio station announces the winning numbers of a lottery for a new Zoom V-8 car. Donald is frustrated when his ticket does not have the winning numbers and throws away the ticket, but the trio hear that the radio announcer made an error and Donald's ticket has the winning numbers. Instead of telling the news to their uncle, the trio decide to pick up the car to surprise him. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Dan Vs.: "Dan vs. Chris" is kickstarted by Dan and Chris listening to KLIE: The Lie at the right time to catch a giveaway for the blaster from "Space Monkeys". Chris calls in at the right time, answers an obscure trivia question, and wins the blaster.
  • In Doug, Doug wins a radio contest giving away tickets to a concert by The Beets.
  • Garfield and Friends: The episode Lemon Aid uses the "contest holders call a random person and ask the trivia question'' variant. It turns out to be a scam by Al Swindler (in his first appearance), with Jon winning an Alleged Car.
  • The Mighty B! has a radio contest to win tickets to see a boyband which Bessie wins through an obscure question only her overachiever complex could answer. As with Rocko above, hilarious asshattery ensues.
  • In an episode of Rocko's Modern Life, Heffer and Filburt try to use a room full of telephones to win two tickets to a wrestling match. They fail when Rocko dials a wrong number and ends up winning the tickets. Hilarious asshattery ensues.
  • At the beginning of the Rugrats episode "Baseball", Grandpa Lou participates in a radio contest to win some tickets to a baseball game. He wins, and the rest of the episode is about what he, Stu, and Tommy did at the game.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer calls to give the correct answer to a trivia question. Even though Homer's low reading ability causes him to give a slightly wrong answer, he still wins the prize.
    • Bart answers the phone when a pair of DJs call a number at random and he answers with the phrase that pays: "WBBL is gonna give me something stupid!" Instead of taking the cash, Bart decides to take the joke prize: an elephant.
    • Homer expects a call from the same DJs in another episode, but because the town had been split into two area codes they're calling Mr. Burns instead - different area code, same number.
  • There's a Taz-Mania episode where Taz is critically injured and confined to bed when he gets a call from the radio contest that he can't answer. They try calling him multiple times before giving up.

     Real Life  
  • In Sacramento, 107.9 had people competing for a Nintendo Wii (the contest was quite inanely named "Hold Your Wee For a Wii") by drinking small bottles of water every fifteen minutes, the contestants would lose the contest if they went to the bathroom. One contestant, Jennifer Strange, famously died of water intoxication; her family later sued the station and Nintendo for wrongful death.
  • For many years WMAQ in Chicago had a promotion where they'd call a number and if they answered "WMAQ is gonna make me rich" they'd win a cash prize.