A new, truTV game show offers contestants a chance to pay off their student loans.
Paid Off, which premiered Tuesday, July 10, is styled like Jeopardy with creator Michael Torpey functioning as the show’s Alex Trebeck. In the first episode, 28-year-old Madeleine Pilon won $24,000 to pay off her student loans, which totaled $41,000.
Pilon, a graduate of Davidson College, won the most money, making her the official winner, but in reality nobody lost — contestants get to keep the money they win.
Torpey — whom viewers might recognize from his role as a corrections officer in the Netflix smash-hit Orange is the New Black — has said he was inspired to do the TV show when booked an underwear commercial to help him and his wife pay off student loan debt.
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The show has a clear political undertone: the $1.5 trillion in student debt is unsustainable and crushing to recent graduates. It’s especially pertinent in South Carolina, which has the highest average median debt per graduate of any state in the country. Here is how he ended the premiere episode, according to a soundbite obtained by NPR:
“We helped four people pay off their student debt today, but there are 45 million Americans out there struggling with their student loans. Doesn’t have to be this way. Call your representatives right now and tell them we need a better solution than this game show. I’m Michael Torpey. I’ll see you next time on Paid Off.”
Torpey said people have been contacting him, asking to be on the show, but he said the first season has already been shot. The show airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m.