Hmmm...this is interesting....
From Wallet Pop by Jason Cochran
Travel company bankruptcy causes 'Wheel of Fortune' prize spinout
Turns out that landing on 'bankrupt' isn't the only way to lose on Wheel of Fortune. In this economy, even winning the grand prize means someone can lose.
Promotion Consideration is a group that sets up prizes for the big TV game shows. According to Travel Weekly, a travel trade publication, Promotion Consideration is considering joining a list of companies that want to get some recompense from Joystar/TravelStar, a travel seller that is being forced by creditors to go into liquidation under Chapter 7.
In August 2007, Joystar's sister company VacationCompare.com made a deal to be the host travel agency for Wheel's 25th anniversary season so that it could harness those 13 million sets of eyeballs that tune in nightly. Travel Weekly reports that Promotion Consideration says the prizes were never delivered, forcing the company to go out-of-pocket to make sure winning contestants got their trips.
TV game show prizes are not always directly funded out of advertising income, and rarely are they orchestrated by the producers themselves. As Wheel's predicament illustrates, fulfillment of those awards often goes through a web of connections and partnerships. In some cases of shows with extremely high payouts that are not often awarded, the jackpot may even be funded (at least in part) by an insurance company.
Fortunately for the winners, ethics and the prevailing rules are solidly against failing to hand over prizes, or at least an agreed-upon equivalent. Shows can get in a heap of trouble with the federal government if they default. Last September, the equivalent prize problem belonged to CBS's Big Brother, which awarded runner-up Memphis a 1969 Camaro it didn't actually have the title to. Despite the fact the contestant won the vehicle in a lavish televised competition, viewers weren't told the car wasn't his after all. Off camera, Memphis ended up agreeing to take a check instead.
If the prize is promised, then it (or something very similar) has to be handed over if it was won fair and square. But as partnerships and insurance companies sour, shows will increasingly find themselves holding the poke to make sure those promised prizes are delivered.