Happy Birthday To The Whammy!: Highlights of "Whammy! The All New Press Your Luck"

Ten years (and four days ago) on April 15, 2002, GSN revived the cult classic 1980’s game show Press Your Luck with the premiere of Whammy! The All New Press Your Luck. Almost a year after GSN picked up Press Your Luck for reruns for the very first time, GSN decided to put a new spin to the classic high stakes, big risk game show by changing the shape of the new, computerized Big Board and adding new features such as the “Big Bank”, the “Double Whammy”, and new 3-D Whammy animations. Todd Newton, current host of Family Game Night and former host of GSN’s Hollywood Showdown, took the helm of hosting Whammy!Sadly, this version only lasted for two seasons. In honor of the short-lived revival turning ten this week, this week’s article is dedicated to some of the most memorable moments that occurred on the show. Enjoy!

Whammy! Tournament of Champions & Losers

During the second season, Whammy! decided to try something that Press Your Luck should have done during its run on CBS:  a tournament of champions. On the week of July 22-25, 2003, Whammy! brought back nine of the biggest money winners on the show to compete in this four-day event. The contestant who fared the best in the final game of the tournament won a Suzuki Aero SX in addition to what they won in the game. Jack Benza became the show’s biggest all-time money winner by winning the first (and only) Whammy! Tournament of Champions. Check it out in the clip below.

Additionally, a Tournament of Losers was held a day before the Tournament of Champions began. This Tournament of Losers reintroduced three formers contestants who didn’t have the best of luck when it came to the Big Board. The winner in this one-game tourney won a trip to Maui in addition to their game winnings.

The Michael Larson Grudge Match

In 2003, in honor of GSN airing the documentary Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal, Whammy! aired a special episode featuring Michael Larson’s two former opponents, Ed Long and Janie Litras, competing against James Larson, Michael’s brother, as well as each other in this epic rematch. As a special treat, Press Your Luck Peter Tomarken made a cameo appearance during the question round and asked the contestants four questions all pertaining to the year the “Michael Larson incident” occurred: 1984. Check out Peter Tomarken picking up where he left off almost two decades ago in the clip below:

Even though it would have more interesting and entertaining to watch Tomarken host the final round of the game as well, Tomarken’s appearance on show was special nonetheless. This show was also filled with clips of Michael Larson’s episodes, which had not aired on GSN since the network first reran the series in 2001 until 2003. At the end of it all, Ed and Janie had once again fallen short to a Larson, as James Larson won the game with $6,695. It seems like the Press Your Luck gene runs strong in the Larson family.

Special Theme Episodes

In an effort to keep the series interesting and entertaining, Whammy! pushed for more special themed shows. Special edition shows include honoring St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Mother’s Day, and April Fool’s Day. Whammy!, along with the other GSN game shows in 2003, celebrated April Fool’s Day by swapping hosting duties between shows. In this instance, Cram host Graham Elwood took charge of Whammy! for a day, while Todd Newton switched places with Mark Walberg on Russian Roulette. Newton was also a “Double Whammy-in-training” on this episode. Check out the clip below. Do you think he would have passed for a Whammy?

The Whammy Animations

Even though Press Your Luck got an extreme makeover with the premiere of the revival, the Whammies are still up to their same old tricks trying to steal everyone’s money. The Whammies have been updated with 3-D effects, new skits relevant to the trending topics and current events at the time, and the debut of the “Double Whammy”. From the Rapper Whammy to “Whamzilla”, these new Whammies will make you smile through their antics and frown at the same time while they take away all of your cash. Check out this Whammy compilation below to see some of the new Whammies in action!

Biggest Loss on Whammy!

Whammy! has seen some big winners win tens of thousands of dollars in cash and prizes and contestants lose just that much with their encounters with the Whammy. This clip features a contestant who not only lost the most money to the Whammy on the revived series, but also does it at the most inopportune time.

A Suzuki At Stake!

Even since the Big Bank premiered on Whammy! during the second season, it wasn’t uncommon for a contestant win over $6,000 or $10,000 cash in one spin by breaking the Big Bank. For those of you who have never seen the show before, the Big Bank is a progressive jackpot that starts at $3,000. Every time a contestant hits a Whammy, their winnings go into the Big Bank. If a contestant lands on a Big Bank square, they have a chance to “whammy” the Whammy by answering a question correctly and winning all the money in the Big Bank. In this episode, a contestant lands on a Big Bank square with $5,698 in cash and a brand new car up for grabs. Will she break the Big Bank and win the game?

**All screenshots have been taken from the actual episodes of Whammy!. No ownership is implied.**
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