Q: What happens on game shows, such as "Let's Make a Deal," if someone wins something like a spa or hot tub and they live in an apartment? Does the contestant get something else or are they stuck with the item?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

A: Past game show contestants always talk about the complicated paperwork involved in being on the show, and one of the key elements of that paperwork is that you win exactly what they said you won on air -- unless the show chooses to switch it.

Many of the prizes are given to the show by the manufacturers or service providers as a way to promote themselves. For example, a tour company will give travel tickets to a show as a prize to give away. If a contestant wins them but chooses not to go, the show isn't going to offer a different prize because then it's still stuck with the tickets. And it won't give cash value, because the cash would be coming out of the show's own pocket.

That said, if a prize isn't one given to the show ahead of time, the show will sometimes give "cash in lieu," cutting a check for the prize value instead of going out and purchasing it on the winner's behalf.

This happened to game show veteran Josh Woo, who, incredibly, has competed on "Jeopardy," "The Price Is Right," "Wheel of Fortune" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

"I wasn't given the option to receive the actual prize instead, and I couldn't trade one of the other prizes I won for their cash value, either," he said.

Basically, the show will do what's best and cheapest for itself.

Another former winner, Aurora De Lucia (who has competed on both "The Price Is Right" and "Let's Make a Deal"), points out that you don't have to take everything you've won -- forfeiting is an option. And often it looks like a good option once the tax bill arrives, because everything you win is taxable as income.

"Taxes are very real. Taxes definitely prohibit many people from keeping prizes they win (or going on trips they win)."


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