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Game show host exposes syndicate allegedly preying on audience

Photo: Screenshot from Wowowin episode.

Back when host Willie Revillame was hosting his popular noontime show at ABS-CBN called Wowowee, he was famous for his on-air tirades.

He has mellowed since moving to GMA, where he hosts the game show Wowowin, but yesterday, the old Revillame returned when he divulged that there were scammers who allegedly bring contestants to the program so they can get a cut out of the prize money.

Wowowin is a game show that airs Monday to Friday. It’s famous for giving away cash prizes and jackets to winning contestants.

Revillame confronted a group of contestants on-air yesterday to ask them how they managed to get a slot on the program. The contestants said they were from Novaliches.

The contestants, wearing red shirts, said a woman named “Susan” booked the slot for them. When Revillame asked where Susan was, she was nowhere to be found.

Visibly irked, he said in Filipino: “Who had your T-shirts made? Who is that Susan? I will not allow you to join the contest if that Susan doesn’t show up.”

Revillame went on a full-blown attack against Susan, who couldn’t be found inside the studio.

He said: “You’re using this show to cheat. You’re using this to earn money. That Susan will just change her name. She will book, she will organize several people together, then when they win, she will ask for money. She will ask for half [of the prize]. I know that.”

Revillame then found an elderly woman from the group who said she was from Bulacan, contrary to what the group initially announced that they were all from Novaliches.

The woman said she was spotted outside by the organizer and was asked to join so that there would be 30 people in the group.

Feeling sorry for the elderly woman, Revillame gave her some cash and a white jacket.

GMA News’ Balitambayan reported that the recent discovery of the alleged scam has pushed the program to become stricter in choosing contestants.

Revillame said: “I feel bad for Wowowin. I feel bad for us here working at GMA. We serve you honestly, we make you happy, and then that’s what you’ll do to this program? Have mercy on us.”

Game shows and variety shows are popular among Filipinos, especially the poor who usually dream of joining and winning.

During the peak of Revillame’s ABS-CBN show Wowowee, people would line up very early in the morning just to join.

It all came to a head one morning in 2006 when a stampede occurred before the show’s anniversary celebration at the PhilSports Stadium in Pasig City. Thousands gathered to enter the stadium, some of whom were reportedly jobless.

A stampede occurred when the crowd, some of whom were camping out for days, became agitated and trampled on each other in order to get tickets. According to the BBC, 73 people died in the stampede while 300 were injured.