Sale of The Century Wiki
Jack Kelly - 1969-1971
Joe Garagiola - 1971-1974
Jim Perry - 1983-1989
Madelyn Sanders - 1969-1974
Barbara Lyon - 1969-1971
Kit Dougherty - 1971-1974
Sally Julian - 1983
Lee Menning - 1983-1984
Lou Mulford - Sub for Lee in 1984
Summer Robin Bartholomew - 1984-1989
Bill Wendell (1969-1974)
Jay Stewart (1983-1988)
Don Morrow (1988-1989)
NBC: 9/29/1969 - 7/13/1973
Syndicated: 9/10/1973 - 9/13/1974
Sale of the Century.jpg
NBC: 1/3/1983 - 3/24/1989
Syndicated 1/7/1985 - 9/19/1986
Jones/Howard Productions (1969-1974)
Reg Grundy Productions (1983-1989)
Syndication Distributors
Screen Gems (1973-1974)
Genesis Entertainment (1985-1986)

This article is about the American version of Sale of the Century, a game show format mixed in with shopping and bargaining, where contestants could answer questions and buy prizes at a low cost.

The first version (from which the Sale format originated) aired on NBC from September 1969 to 1973 as a daytime game show. A syndicated version also aired from September 1973 to September 1974.

A second version (borrowing elements from the then-successful Australian version) also aired on NBC daytime from January 1983 to March 1989, with a syndicated nighttime version airing from January 1985 to September 1986.


The format centered around three contestants answering general knowledge questions, buying prizes at a low cost, and attempting to win a huge cash jackpot.


Three contestants (one a returning champion) were given $20 to start. The host asked a series of questions, all of which were toss-ups, and only one person can answer each one. The first contestant to buzz-in with a correct answer gets $5, but an incorrect answer loses $5. In the 1969-74 version, the players were given $25 to start, and the questions increased in value throughout the game from $5 to $10 to $15 each. From 1973-1974, the game was played with two couples; each started with $20 and the $15 questions were replaced by five $20 questions.

Instant Bargain[]

During the game, the player in the lead (originally all three contestants) or contestants who were tied was given a chance to buy a special prize for a bargain price. To buy the prize, the contestant must hit his/her buzzer; doing so won the prize which became his/hers to keep win or lose, but the bargain value of the prize was deducted from his/her score. On the original version, if a player buzzed in before the prize was revealed, the sale price was deducted from his/her score without buying the prize. Jim Perry usually tempted the contestant by offering some extra cash and/or lowering the bargain price of the prize and afterward he said, "Going once, Going twice." If the contestant did not ring in, he said, “No sale.” Sometimes instant bargains offered "Sale Surprises", which were bonus cash amounts ranging from about $500 to $1000, and the contestant who bought the prize got the bonus cash. The surprise would only be revealed either after the player bought the prize, or after Jim said, “No sale.”

Instant Cash[]

Beginning in March 1986, the third Instant Bargain was replaced with the Instant Cash segment. The player in the lead faced three black boxes numbered 1, 2, and 3. Two of them had $100 bills while the one remaining one contained a cash jackpot which started at $1,000 plus $1,000 more for every day it was not won. To play, the player in the lead had to surrender their (the price was the difference between the leader and the second-placed player). In case of a tie for the lead, a dutch auction was held between those players. If the leading contestant (or the first person to buzz in the case of a tie) decided to play by hitting their, the player selected one of the boxes and whatever the amount inside was theirs to keep.

Fame Game[]

There was no Fame Game in the original version; it was added when the show returned in 1983.

80s Fame Game[]

In the 80s version, and in all three rounds, all three players got to participate in the Fame Game. The host read a "Who am I?"-typed question in which the clues get easier as time progressed. Each Fame Game had a maximum of 10-question clues. The first player to buzz in had a chance to answer. An incorrect answer forced that player to sit out the rest of the question, but without losing $5. The first contestant to buzz in with a correct answer faced a game board with nine numbers (1-9). Behind those numbers were cash awards, prizes, surprises and Money Cards ($10, $15, and $25) which were added for each round. There was occasionally an additional $5 Money Card as well. The player in control chose a number, and whatever they found now belonged to that player. If a Money Card was found, its value was added to the player's score. There were also two spaces that gave the player in control to either take a cash prize or choose another number (one marked $400, the other a mystery cash amount between $1.75 and $1,500). Contestants that found cash prizes or merchandise kept them whether they won the match or not.

When the show started, the Fame Game board consisted of faces of celebrities (many of them NBC-related) instead of numbers. There was only one Money Card (the $25 Money Card) hidden on the board, and the rest were prizes. So finding the $25 Money Card early made the other Fame Game(s) useless since there were only prizes left. The other two Money Cards would come in the later months (at some point between May and July 1983). The faces were replaced by the numbers 1-9 sometime in March 1984.

Beginning in October 1985, the board became randomized (similar to Press Your Luck's Big Board). Lights around the numbers would flash at random and stopped when the player in control hit their buzzer. In addition, "Mystery Money or Pick Again" was renamed "Mystery Money or Try Again", while the Money Cards were revealed at the outset (and the $5 card was done away with). Once the player landed on a number and received a prize or score bonus, that number would then be taken off the board for subsequent Fame Game plays.

Final Round[]

For the first year in the 1980s version, host Perry would read three more $5 questions for a total of $15. This was later replaced in March 1984 by the Speed Round.

Speed Round[]

In the Speed Round, the host would ask as many questions as possible within the time limit of 60 seconds.

During Speed Round play, Jim would call out one of the following responses:

  • "Right" (originally "That's right") if a contestant answered correctly.
  • "Wrong" (originally "[That is/That's] incorrect/wrong") if a contestant answered incorrectly.
  • "Time" if a contestant failed to answer in the time required, or if none of the contestants buzzed in to the associated question.
    • In most cases, after the Speed Round ended, Jim would then read out the answers to the questions that were either answered incorrectly or missed.

The player with the most money won the game. If there was a tie at the end, the host would read one final question (a Fame Game/Who am I question in the earlier months of the 80s version). A correct answer won $5 more and the game, but an incorrect answer cost $5 and the game. In the case of a three-way tie, the first contestant to buzz in and miss was out of the game. The winning player became the Sale of the Century champion, while the losers kept their final scores in cash in addition to everything else.

Unlike most versions of Sale which used the Speed Round, the game was over once the clock finished, even if a contestant had buzzed in at the last second to answer a question. In addition, the clock was not stopped at any point in the game, even if a contestant answered before or when Jim called "Time" on a question.


The champion won a chance to buy a grand prize at a bargain price using their winning score. Six prizes were on display with the biggest prize being a brand new luxury car. The champion could either buy the grand prize which they had enough money to buy with and leave the show or return on the next show with the money scored that day being added to the next day's winning score. In the 1969-1973 version and in the 1983 Tournament of Champions, (grand) champions could buy more than one prize. Occasionally in the 1980s version, if a champion scored more than enough to buy the next prize in line while shooting for the intended target prize, then the champion had a choice of two prizes. In the Temptation revival, the contestant always had a choice of prizes regardless of their cumulative score. In the 1969-1973 version and in the Temptation revival, the highest-level prize the winning contestant could buy was a new car.

On the 1973-1974 syndicated series, the winning couple answered a series of questions worth $100 and could stop at any time and buy one of three prizes (trip, fur, or car). Later, the couple had to correctly answer three questions, the difficulty of which depended on the value of the prize; low-end prize was $50 a question, medium $100 and high-end $200.

Shopping prices[]

1969-1973 NBC-TV Daytime & 1973-1974 Syndicated TV Portion:

$25 - $100 - 300 in Merchandise.

$26-50 - $300 - 500 in Merchandise.

$51-100 - $500 - 1000 in Merchandise.

$101-200 - $1000 - 2000 in Merchandise.

$201-449 - $2000 - 4000 in Merchandise.

$450+ -$4000+ in Merchandise.including A New Car and on November 3, 1969, It Presents A Big Cash Jackpot Begins at $25,000 +$1000 when it didn't Happened as winning the full lot area of "The Department Store of A Lifetime: The $ale of The Century."

1983-1984 daytime
During the first few months of the 1980s run, the prices for the six onstage prizes tended to vary, although $510 was always originally the goal for the Lot. By about mid-April 1983, the prices were fixed to:

  • $55 - $2,000 to $2,500 prize
  • $120 - $3,500 to $4,000 prize
  • $185 - $5,000 to $7,000 prize
  • $250 - $10,000 to $12,000 prize
  • $335 - $20,000 to $25,000 prize (typically a boat, but occasionally other prizes)
  • $420 - $35,000+ car (in the earliest months a Mercedes-Benz, later a Cadillac)
  • $510 - Originally, all of the above plus enough cash to round out the Lot to exactly $95,000. Beginning on May 30, 1983, this level became a Cash Jackpot that started at $50,000 and went up by $1,000 per day until won.
  • $600 - Once the Cash Jackpot was added, $600 was the goal for the Lot (all six prizes and the Cash Jackpot).

Once the Speed Round came into play in March 1984, the values were upped to the following:

  • $75
  • $160
  • $245
  • $330
  • $435
  • $540 (car)
  • $650 (Cash Jackpot)
  • $760 (The Lot)

1985 nighttime
When the syndicated series debuted, the prize structure ran as follows, with each of the first five levels below roughly corresponding to the same spot prize-wise as the daytime run:

  • $85
  • $195
  • $285
  • $390
  • $485
  • $610 (car)
  • $720 (all prizes)
  • $830 (The Lot)

Beginning on the 16th episode (January 28, 1985), these were tweaked slightly to their more familiar structure:

  • $85 (unchanged)
  • $175
  • $260
  • $340
  • $445
  • $530 (car)
  • $640 (all prizes)
  • $750 (The Lot)

The price drops were probably done to make getting the prizes a bit easier: during the first three weeks, no champion stayed on for more than four days, no player banked more than $223, and nobody opted to purchase an endgame prize. Note also the progression: for the first three weeks, the price jumps were $110-$90-$105-$95-$125-$110-$110, whereas the standard structure had jumps of $90-$85-$80-$105-$85-$110-$110.

Big Winners during the 80s shopping era[]


  • Mort Kamins: Was the very first Lot winner in the 1980s revival (and the only one to win the original Lot), winning a total of $107,369 in March 1983. He later went on to win the very first Tournament of Champions in November 1983, bringing his combined Daytime total to $249,982.
  • Richard Heft: Won an $82,000 Cash Jackpot in July 1983. Was the first person to claim the jackpot. He was later one of the nine players in the 1983 Tournament of Champions.
  • Barbara Philips: Won $151,689 in August 1983, becoming the first (woman) contestant to win over $150,000 on a daytime network show. On her final show, Phillips needed $116 to win all the prizes plus the Cash Jackpot ($68,000), and she won everything in dramatic fashion, first claiming the $15 Money Card on the third Fame Game, then needing to answer the final three $5 questions correctly, thus making her the only player to win all the prizes and the Cash Jackpot as well as the second and final daytime player to win the Lot – all the other big network winners took the Cash Jackpot and left. She was later one of the nine players in the 1983 Tournament of Champions.
  • Kathy Riley: Won a $78,000 Cash Jackpot in January 1984, albeit in a rather anti-climatic fashion – Kathy was $15 ahead of Bob, one of her opponents, as the game was going to the final three questions, ergo Bob needed to answer all three to tie the game. Roger, who was in a distant third, buzzed in on the first question, therefore giving Kathy the Cash Jackpot by default; however, nobody seemed to realize this until Bob missed the second question, at which point Jim threw away the last and declared Kathy the winner. The Speed Round was instituted shortly thereafter.
  • David Rogers: Won $122,084 in April 1984, including a $109,000 Cash Jackpot (the highest ever won on the show, and the only time the jackpot ever exceeded $100,000 on either the daytime or syndicated versions). Rogers had a total of $680 in his account the day of his victory, and would've needed to win the next show with a score of at least $80 to win the Lot, which would have totaled $187,101. His big win came just two weeks after a previous champion, Dawn McKellar, tried for a $99,000 Jackpot but lost the game by just $2. Rogers was among the first big winners since the incorporation of the Speed Round, and later appeared on Jeopardy! in 1987 (under the name David Nagy). He was one of the players invited back for the 1985 Tournament of Champions.
  • Bill Baxter: Won a $70,000 Cash Jackpot in somewhat dramatic fashion in May 1984 and left with total winnings of $85,256. Baxter had a total of $659 in his account the day of his big win, and would've needed to come back the next day and win with at least $101 to get the Lot, which would have totaled $142,855. He later played in the 1985 Tournament of Champions, reaching the semi-finals.
  • Ian Barondess: Won a $58,000 Cash Jackpot in May 1984. He was one of the players invited back for the 1985 Tournament of Champions.
  • Stephanie Holmquist: Won a $74,000 Cash Jackpot in June 1984 with her bank account on the show. Her cash and prize total was $83,337. Stephanie had $723 when she bought the Jackpot, and she would have needed at least $37 or more on the next show to win the Lot, which would have totaled $147,095. In 1985, she appeared again, this time in the Tournament of Champions, where as the tournament winner she won $35,000 and a Porsche. Her total combined winnings came to $152,897, which was the highest ever in daytime at that time, until her record was overtaken by Tom O'Brien two years later.
  • Susan Wolfe: Won $69,798 in Summer 1984, including a $61,000 Cash Jackpot. She had $703 in her account, and would've needed $57 or more on the next show to win the Lot, which would have totaled $134,846. She later played in the 1985 Tournament of Champions, reaching the semi-finals.
  • Bill Fogel: Won $66,459 in late 1984, including a $61,000 Cash Jackpot, but not before winning the game with $145 (setting America's highest main-game score). Bill was the last big-money winner of the NBC shopping era and had a total of $721 in his account the day of his big win; a win of just $39 more would have won the Lot, which would have totaled $131,761. He was one of the players invited back for the 1985 Tournament of Champions.


  • John Gose: Won $156,339, including a $72,000 Cash Jackpot, in February 1985, becoming the first player on this version to win the Lot. In his final game, Gose had $655 in his account, needing at least $95 to win everything on the stage, and he won the game with exactly $95. It was revealed after his big win that John was between jobs at the time, making the fact he continued to take risks that much more remarkable.
  • Helaine Lowey: Won $142,974 in February 1985, including a $64,000 Cash Jackpot. On her final show, Lowey had $703 in her account, needing at least $47 to win the Lot.
  • Alice Conkright: Won $141,406 in April 1985, including a $77,000 Jackpot, in only six shows (the shortest amount of time it took anyone to do so on the American version; the three other syndicated Lot winners all took eight shows to win) and won every single show with at least $115, including a record $145 (tying Bill Fogel's record) on two separate occasions. On her first show, she defeated Michael Friedman, who himself needed $101 to win the $72,000 Cash Jackpot. In her final show, Conkright had $660 in her account, needing at least $90 for the Lot. She won her final game easily with $115 to her opponents who finished with $20 and $25 respectively.
    • In addition to her adeptness at answering questions, she refused to buy any of the Instant Bargains she had a chance to take despite the cajoling of host Jim Perry, even when she had seemingly insurmountable leads (which kept her scores relatively high). Jim remarked on her final show she had turned down a total of $11,000 in cash offers along with the Instant Bargain prizes.
  • Tim Holleran: Won $166,875 in September 1985, including a $90,000 Cash Jackpot (the highest level reached on this version, and second only to the $109,000 jackpot won by David Rogers in daytime), becoming the biggest winner in American Sale history (notwithstanding tournaments). In his final show, Holleran had $707 in his account, needing at least $43 for the Lot. In 1987, Holleran competed in the International Invitational Tournament, and was the United States' representative in the Finals. He finished second place to Cary Young of Australia, but won additional money during the Tournament, giving him a final total of $183,373. NOTE: A young Kevin Nealon appeared onstage to congratulate Tim after his Lot win.

80s Bonus Games[]

In the later years of the 80s revival, the shopping format was dropped, and new bonus rounds were played.

Winner's Board[]

Starting in October 1984 on the NBC version, and November 18, 1985 on the syndicated version, the winning contestant faced the Winner's Board. The Winner's Board consisted of 20 numbered squares. Behind those numbers were eight matching pairs of prizes (one of which was always $3,000 cash), and two WIN cards which constituted an automatic match (similar to a WILD! card on Classic Concentration). The champion picked off numbers to reveal the prizes; the first prize matched was the prize won. If at any time one of the WIN cards was revealed, the next prize revealed was the prize won. The two biggest prizes were $10,000 and a new car; they both appeared only once. To win either one of those, the player would first need to find one of the WIN cards, then find one of the biggest prizes. Should the two big prizes be left on the board, then only two numbers hiding those prizes would be shown. There was no bonus for finding both WIN cards in succession (a la winning a $500 bonus for picking both WILD Cards in succession on Classic Concentration); the champion simply picked another number.

The combined value of all the prizes, including $13,000 cash, nominally added up to between $50,000 and $60,000.

Once the board was cleared (all prizes matched), the champion then made a decision to either keep all the prizes and retire, or play one more game for a chance at adding an additional $50,000 in cash. The catch in the latter instance was that the contestant, if they wanted the opportunity, had to put all 10 of the Winner's Board prizes up as collateral - essentially, it was a form of the player competing against the house. (Front game prizes were never at risk.) Winning the game won the $50,000 bonus plus keeping the 10 Winner's Board prizes and retiring undefeated. However, if one of the contestant's opponents won, the champion lost all 10 Winner's Board prizes.

Based on circulating episodes and fan recollections, all contestants who took the risk won their final game. However, more than once, the final game came down to the closing seconds of the Speed Round before the win was secured, and at least once - in the case of Mark DeCarlo, in April 1985 - a tiebreaker was needed to determine the day's winner; he won after the opponent he was tied with at the end of the Speed Round buzzed in with an incorrect answer, costing her $5 and the game.

Furthermore, there were at least six daytime contestants - Jeff Hewitt and Marguerite Newhouse (both in 1984), Tim O'Rourke and Dave Goodman (1985), Judy Cahill (1986), and Andy Ross (1987) - who opted to walk away after winning their 10th game. Plus, there were several contestants who lost on their 10th game, with two of those contestants failing to win only the car and another needing just the $10,000 cash jackpot to clear the board. Another 10th-game loser, Jody Spreckles, was invited back to a show after a judge's error was discovered; she reclaimed her championship by defeating a six-day champion, and went on to win the $50,000 bonus after a suspenseful Speed Round.

In the transition from the Shopping to the Winner's Board, the champion at that point was given the option to leave with the prize offered, or keep the prize and continue as champion into the new format. In both the daytime show and the syndicated series, the champion chose the latter. Debbie Morris, the champion on the NBC show kept a prize and on the first ever Winner's Board show the champion successfully defended her crown (winning a TV). The champion on the syndicated show kept a $5,000 custom women's wardrobe (by French designer Ted Lapidus) and on the first syndicated Winner's Board show the champion successfully defended his crown (winning a Beverly Hills Shopping Spree).

Big Winners from this era[]
  • Jeff Hewitt: One of the first contestants to clear the board, Jeff declined to go for the $50,000 cash bonus, leaving with $72,794 in cash and prizes. He returned for the 1985 Tournament of Champions, losing to Stephanie Holmquist in the finals.
  • Marguerite Newhouse: An early big winner of this format in late 1984, winning over $65,000 in cash and prizes, including winning a new Mercedes-Benz in dramatic fashion during her next-to last game with four prizes and two numbers left on the winner's board. Newhouse decided not to go for the $50,000 bonus after winning all 10 prizes on the board. During the debut of the Winner's Board format, she lost due to an error (Debbie Morris, the last winner of the previous bonus won that day), so she was brought back a few weeks later. She was later invited back for the 1985 Tournament of Champions.
  • Tim O'Rourke: Playing in January 1985, Tim declined to go for the $50,000 cash bonus after winning his tenth game, leaving with $62,843 in cash and prizes. He was later invited back for the 1985 Tournament of Champions.
  • Mark DeCarlo: His final game (on April 8, 1985) came down to a climactic tiebreaker. His opponent buzzed in early and answered incorrectly, which by default netted him the win and the $50,000 bonus, for a grand total of $115,257 in cash and prizes.
  • Cindy Barr: Won $111,590 in cash and prizes in 1985.
  • Jeff Colburn: Won $123,753 in cash and prizes in April 1985.
  • Jody Spreckles: In August 1986, she won $107,462. She had originally lost her tenth game (at some point in early 1986, before the Instant Cash game had debuted), but was brought back due to an error.
  • Andy Ross: In the Spring of 1987, he won $81,900 in cash and prizes (with $33,700 in cash alone), declining to go for the $50,000 cash bonus. He was later invited back for the 1988 Tournament of Champions.
  • Diane Cross: Won over $77,000 in cash and prizes in 1987. Was later invited back for the 1988 Tournament of Champions, which she ended up winning, bringing her combined winnings to $146,995, including an additional $24,000 in cash and a $32,000+ Mercedes-Benz sedan.
  • Linda Credit: In May/June 1987, she won $140,457 in cash and prizes, including a $14,000 Instant Cash jackpot. She then played in the 1988 Tournament of Champions, where she was one of the three finalists, and won another $5,700, for a combined total of $146,157. One of the last big winners during the Winner's Board era.
  • Tom O'Brien: In October 1987, Tom O'Brien had won $102,000 in cash and prizes before his eleventh game. When the game was over, Tom had won back all his major prizes plus an extra $50,000. He won a total of $152,847 in his first eleven games. He was brought back for the final Tournament of Champions in 1988 and, as one of the three finalists, added another $20,217 to his winnings, giving him a combined daytime total of $173,064 in cash and prizes.
  • Curtis Warren: The first player to win the $50,000 bonus on the syndicated version, in January 1986. He would later go on to win $1.41 million on Greed in 2000, which at the time was the all-time winnings record (since broken four times, most recently by Brad Rutter). He also won $700 on Win Ben Stein's Money after he failed to beat Ben in the Best of 10 Test of Knowledge.
  • Lisa Muňoz: Another big syndicated winner, taking home $122,551 in cash and prizes in February/March 1986.

Winner's Big Money Game[]

On December 28, 1987, the bonus was changed one more time. In the Winner's Big Money Game, the day's champion had to solve a series of six-clue word puzzles within the time limit. To start, host Perry gave the champion a choice three envelopes (red, yellow or blue). Whatever the choice, the player started to hear and see the words of each puzzle appear one at a time; as soon as the contestant knew what the puzzle referred to, they would hit a plunger to stop the clock (the clock started when the first word appeared). If the champ answered correctly, they won the puzzle and a circled check mark lit up on the winner's podium. The champion could miss one time and continue, but two misses or time running out ended the game. The player could buzz in and opt to pass without penalty if they couldn't come up with an answer. Solving four puzzles in 20 seconds (originally five in 25 seconds until sometime in April 1988) won the champion $5,000 plus $1,000 for every return trip until playing for $10,000 cash; the next Winner's Big Money Game was worth a new car. Losing that game meant the player left the show, but winning the car gave the champion the right to play one more game. Winning that final game earned a chance to play one last Winner's Big Money Game for $50,000.

Two people made it to the $50,000 Winner's Big Money Game, but only one contestant - Rani White - successfully won the $50,000 cash prize. At least three contestants (Robin McKirahan in August 1988, veteran game show contestant LaRae Dillman in January 1989 and Darrell Garrison during the last week of the show in March 1989) made it to the seventh Winner's Big Money Game, but lost when playing for the car. The $50,000 bonus appears to have been eliminated sometime between late October 1988 and March 1989, as Darrell was told on-air that his last time playing the bonus would be for the car.


  • With the introduction of the Winner's Big Money Game, the day's winner now received a bonus prize for winning the match:
    • From December 28, 1987, through at least February 1988, at the start of the second segment of the episode, the returning champion would be shown a board with six concealed prizes (labeled 1-6), and their choice would go to the day's winner.
    • By April 1988, this changed so that the day's winner would choose from the board after the Speed Round, before going to play the Winner's Big Money Game.
    • By August 30, 1988, and for the rest of the run, the board for choosing prizes was done away with, with the prize for the day's winner now announced by Jim before starting the main game.
  • The Winner's Big Money Game was originally the bonus round of the unsold 1985 Reg Grundy pilot Matchmates, hosted by Michael Burger.
Big Winners from this era[]
  • Rani White: Won $140,011 in May 1988. She was the only contestant to win the $50,000 bonus during this era.
  • Phil Cambry: Won $91,323 in October 1988. He won his final game, but missed the $50,000 bonus.
  • Darrell Garrison: Won $79,348 during the final weeks of the series in March 1989.


Print Ads[]

Trade Ads[]

Press photos[]

Audience tickets[]

Ticket plugs[]

Other photos and screenshots[]

Crew Member jacket[]

In popular culture[]

A brief clip of the intro to Sale of the Century was seen in the 1985 episode called "Night Caller" on the short-lived revival of the classic anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

The glass money briefcase used to represent the cash jackpot or $50,000 was also used on Sale of the Century's sister show Scrabble during the finale of its 1985 Tournament of Champions.

A brief clip of Sale of the Century was seen in the 1986 music video called Welcome to the Boomtown by the rock duo David & David.

Sale of the Century was briefly featured in the 1988 film Rain Man.

In 2001, TV Guide ranked Sale of the Century #41 as one of The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time. Prior to this, the show was also mentioned in "The 60 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time" as a list of "The Other 50" (in alphabetical order) in 2013.

In 2006, GSN ranked Sale of the Century #34 as one of The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time. The special was hosted by Bil Dwyer. Interestingly enough, the 1980s version of Sale would not air regularly on GSN (save for a few clips in a GSN special) until 2013. When the network announced their acquisition of 65 episodes from the 1988-89 (finale) which began airing on April 1. The short-lived 1985-86 syndicated version began airing on the network in November. Those episodes aired until March 2015 when the network dropped the show from its schedule. Buzzr later started airing reruns from the 1985-86 version in September 2015.

Opening announcements[]

1969-1974 opening announcement:
"Today on the Sale of the Century, the total retail value of our prizes is more than $XX,XXX. These three players/two couples will have an opportunity to buy these prizes. (Players names, hometown, and occupation), (and welcome back our returning champion(s)) (champion(s)) who told us (s)he/they would like to buy (prizes)) And now here is the star of the Sale of the Century, Jack Kelly/Joe Garagiola!"

First 1980s NBC opening announcement:
"Today on America's biggest bargain sale we're offering a brand new car/(insert car name) valued at $XX,XXX for $XXX. (A [insert prize] valued at $XX,XXX for $XXX.) (A cash jackpot of $XX,XXX for $XXX.) Cash and prizes worth over $100,000 for $XXX. Two of the incredible bargains on... (echoing) Sale of the Century." And now, here's the star of the show, Jim Perry!

Second 1980s NBC opening announcement:
"Today/this week, we're offering/one of our contestants/players will win (insert two/three prizes), and a trip to (insert trip). And continue a journey toward a fortune in cash and prizes, including (insert car or other vehicle) and $50,000 in cash. In total, over $100,000 on... (echoing) Sale of the Century." And now, here's the star of the show, Jim Perry!

First 1980s syndicated opening announcement:
"Today/Tonight on America's biggest bargain sale we're offering a brand new car/(insert car name) valued at $XX,XXX for $610. All of the prizes and the Cash Jackpot of $XX,000/Cash and prizes worth over $100,000 for $830. Two of the incredible bargains on... (echoing) Sale of the Century." And now, here's the star of the show, Jim Perry!

Later 1980s syndicated opening announcement:
"Today/Tonight on America's biggest bargain sale we're offering a brand new car/(insert car name) valued at $XX,XXX for $530. Cash and prizes worth over $100,000 for $750. Two of the incredible bargains on... (echoing) Sale of the Century." And now, here's the star of the show, Jim Perry!

Opening after Winners Big Money Game debuted until final episode:

"Champion (insert name), has won cash and prizes totaling $XX,XXX."


"Welcome to Sale of the Century. I'm delighted to be back with you on NBC and thrilled to be here with a show that I know you're gonna enjoy. I'm gonna enjoy everyday introducing our lovely hostess, Sally Julian!" - Jim Perry (on the first episode of the series)

"Welcome to Sale of the Century. Let's welcome back to our champion (insert name). Win today, you'll be playing the Winner's Big Money Game for (insert cash jackpot). - Jim Perry (on a returning champion on the last show during the Winner's Big Money Game era.)

"Here to introduce the challengers, Sally Julian/Lee Manning/Summer Bartholomew." - Jim Perry

"You're right for another $5." - Jim Perry

"Oh, no. (insert correct answer). A quick buzzer cost you $5." - Jim Perry (on a contestant ringing in early and answered incorrectly.)

"It's time for an Instant Bargain. Player in the lead can buy bargain merchandise." - Jim Perry (at the start of the Instant Bargain.)

"It's normally priced at (insert amount), but it can be yours for only (insert amount) on Sale of The Century" - Hostess (1)

"It's normally priced at (insert amount), but today on Sale of The Century, it's yours for only (insert amount)." - Hostess (2)

"We are selling the ... (item)." - Jim Perry (when a male contestant was offered an Instant Bargain, and one of the female models was wearing a bikini or looked very attractive in a dress)

"Going Once... Going Twice... No Sale!" - Jim Perry

"We'll knock the (insert amount) off your score..." - Jim Perry after a contestant made an Instant Bargain purchase.

"It's time for the Fame Game. We're playing, not for dollars, but for picking/controlling the board of the Fame Game. (It could be Money Cards, cash, or prizes.) Players, buzz-in when you know about a Famous Person/Place/Thing." - Jim Perry (at the start of the Fame Game)

"Incorrect. Out of the rest of the question. (You stay at (score)/No dollar value.) We'll clear it, continue for (insert opponents)." - Jim Perry (on a contestant ringing in and answered incorrectly during the Fame Game)

"No!/Incorrect! And (insert last contestant) gets the rest of the question all to himself/herself." - Jim Perry (on a second contestant ringing in and answered incorrectly during the Fame Game)

"Yes!/You are right! With very little/limited information. (Nicely done/solved.)" - Jim Perry (on a contestant ringing in early and answered correctly during the Fame Game)

Jay: "And behind number (insert number), we have (insert Money Card, cash, or prize)." - Jay Stewart when a contestant selects either the Money Card, cash or a prize on the Fame Game.

Jim: "(insert amount) dollar money card where, Summer?" - During the second version of the Fame Game

Summer: "Behind number (insert number)!" - During the second version of the Fame Game

"Come on (insert amount) dollar money card...NOW!" - Contestant 

"(insert amount) dollar money card...NOW!" - Contestant

Jim: "No, it lands on number (insert number) and he/she gets..." - During the second version of the Fame Game

Jay/Don: "(Insert cash or prize)." - When a contestant doesn't land on the Money Card during the second version of Fame Game

"(Very) Good/Excellent prize. That's yours to keep no matter how you finish in the game." - Jim Perry

Jim: "Where were those Money Cards?" - During the first version of the Fame Game

Summer: "Behind number (insert numbers.) - During the first version of the Fame Game

"And now, we finish up the game with the Speed Round. (I'll ask as many questions as I can in 60 seconds.) May I have 60 seconds on the clock. (Insert score recap.) We start the Speed Round now!" - Jim Perry

"We have a tie. (Last place contestant's name), you're out of it, you can't/cannot answer. It's just between (insert two tied contestants). Remember if you answer correctly, you'll add $5, and you would win, and if you answered incorrectly, you lose $5, and lose." - Jim Perry (on a Tiebreaker)

"Let's Go Shopping!" - Host

"You must stop the clock before the double-zero." - Jim Perry during the Winner's Big Money Game

"Three new challengers next time on Sale of the Century. Bye for now." - Jim Perry upon a champion's retirement

"Well, that wraps it up for Sale of the Century. First of all, on a personal note, this is my wife June. And if it were not for her and 30 years, I wouldn't be standing here today. And if it were not for all of these people behind us and all of the people up in the booth, we wouldn't have had 6¼ years of Sale of the Century where we have given away over $8,500,000 and I know of instances where we changed people's lives for the better. I hope for you that we have given you some joy, and some pleasure and entertainment, and somewhere along the line, possibly a little bit of knowledge that has added to your day. A lot of you have been very supportive of us for a long time. It has been almost 2,000 episodes of Sale of The Century, and we leave this show with great pride, a show that has been a wonderful show. And all of these people that we're going to see their faces, Summer and all the on-camera people, and all the people behind. It's because of them that it has been the great joy that it has. I thank you. I bless you. Goodbye, my friends." - Jim Perry (on the final episode of the series)


1969 - Al Howard and Irwin Bazelon
1983 - Ray and Marc Ellis (updated in 1987)

Format creator[]

Al Howard


The Best 80s & 90s Game Shows: Sale of the Century
Rules for Sale of the Century @
Rules for Sale of the Century @ Game Show Temple
Josh's Sale of the Century Rules Page
Travis' Sale of the Century Rules Page
Another Sale of the Century Rules Page
A Blog about "Sale of the Century"
GSN's Press release for Sale of the Century
Sale of The Century on the Game Shows Wiki
Official Pearson website for Sale of the Century via Internet Archive
Sale of The Century (programme description) @ Fremantlemedia's former subsite (via Internet Archive)
Hell Yeah! $ale of the Century
Memories of Sale of the Century on Facebook
Sale of the Century Video Slots sub-site @