What Is The $100,000 Pyramid?

what is the 100000 pyramid

The $100,000 Pyramid is the most recent incarnation of the Pyramid game show franchise. While the budget’s gotten bigger (and so has the prize money), the newest edition of Pyramid stays true to its roots from over 50 years ago. Ordinary people still tag-team with celebrities to guess a series of related words, vying for a chance to win the top prize in the bonus round. Like actual pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, the format of the game show has had a strong enough foundation to last through the ages.

This article will mostly cover the current iteration, though its rules are essentially the same as they’ve always been.


Pyramid was created in 1973 by Bob Stewart, a Brooklyn-based television producer. This wasn’t his first stab at creating a daytime game show, and its decades of history come from its proven formula. Pyramid bears several similarities to Password, another “word guessing” game that Stewart created in 1961. Like Pyramid, Password also features two people pairing up with celebrities of the time, and pioneered the high-paying “bonus round” that carried over into Pyramid.

Owing to Stewart’s prior success in the industry, The $10,000 Pyramid corralled famed TV personality Dick Clark as its first host, and its most enduring. Following a series of questionable rule changes over the decades, most notoriously while Donny Osmond hosted in the 2000s, the show experienced a resurgence in the 2010s by sticking to what made it popular in the 1970s. In 2016, The $100,000 Pyramid snagged a primetime spot on ABC, with former Giants’ defensive end and current GMA panelist Michael Strahan hosting.


The objective of Pyramid is to guess a series of words based on your partner’s clues. If you make it to the “Winner’s Circle,” one teammate has to give clues pertaining to six categories, like “Things that are sharp,” so that the other teammate can figure them out.


On The $100,000 Pyramid, the contestants sit across from their celebrity partner at one of two tables. Attached to each table is a scoreboard for the team, as well as two tablets that display the clues, one at a time.

At center stage, the Winner’s Circle sits to entice both contestants. In the Winner’s Circle, two red chairs face each other, one facing toward the answers on the pyramid and one facing away from it. Only the person giving the clues can see the answers.

How to Play

Pyramid is a simple game, and while it’s hard to play along with, it’s more fun to watch ordinary people get flustered by clues given by the celebrities they look up to on TV.

In the first round, teams take turns picking one of six different groups of seven words each; these groups are arranged, like nearly everything on set, into a pyramid shape. Though the words in each group are related, the names of each group don’t give away the theme of the words. For example, will a group called “Poetry Slam” relate to poetry-related words, basketball terms, or words that are tough to rhyme with? No one can truly know in Pyramid, and this approach means the group who picks first doesn’t have a significant advantage.

Once a category is selected, one player on a team has 30 seconds to give the other player clues pertaining to all seven answers, which appear one at a time. Clues are usually given in the form of sentences, and can include sound effects or hand gestures, but certain types of clues are disallowed. Most obviously, saying the actual word in question as a part of the clue is not allowed, and will result in that word being lost. “Phonetic clues” are also forbidden, such as clues that say what the hidden word sounds like or rhymes with. Popular clues include descriptions of what the hidden word is or does. For example, an acceptable clue for the word “car” might be, “Something you drive in.” A difficult word can be “passed” to get to the next one, though the team won’t be able to go back to that word.

There are three rounds of head-to-head play, each worth a possible seven points, for a total of 21. After three rounds, the team with the most points enters the Winner’s Circle, where the celebrity will list examples to help the contestant get six answers in one minute. Each category becomes worth more money on its own the further up the pyramid you go, with the answers getting slightly harder.

Summary of Rules

  • There are two teams of two: one celebrity and one contestant, who take turns giving and receiving clues.
  • In each round, a team has 30 seconds to guess as many of the seven related words as they can.
  • When giving clues, you’re not allowed to say the answer. You’re also not allowed to give “phonetic hints.” For example, if the word is “boat,” you can’t say that it rhymes with “coat.”
  • When giving clues, you are allowed to gesture or mime to help your partner guess the answer.
  • You’re allowed to pass on a difficult word, but it limits the points you can get in the round.
  • Get more points than the other team through three rounds, and you make it to the Winner’s Circle.
  • Guess all six answers in the Winner’s Circle within a minute, and you win the big money.


What is the $100,000 Pyramid?

The $100,000 Pyramid is the most recent incarnation of the Pyramid game show series. The rules of the new version are virtually unchanged from the old version: contestants pair with a celebrity and give each other clues to guess a series of common words, phrases, and people. The show’s top prize of $100,000 can be won in the famed Winner’s Circle.

How do you play The $100,000 Pyramid?

Contestants alternate between giving and receiving clues from celebrities on a series of seven related words or phrases. Guess more words correctly over three rounds than the opposing pair, and you’ll go to the Winner’s Circle, where your celebrity partner has one minute to list examples for six different categories. Get all of them, and you win.

Who hosts The $100,000 Pyramid?

Michael Strahan hosts The $100,000 Pyramid. The former Giants defensive lineman was already a media personality on ABC shows like Good Morning America, and was billed as the host when The $100,000 Pyramid aired in a primetime slot on ABC. He carries the torch from hosts such as Dick Clark, the original host of the show, and Donny Osmond.