Provocative Jeopardy Champ Says HQ Trivia Owes Him $20,000 In Winnings

Illustration for article titled Provocative Jeopardy Champ Says HQ Trivia Owes Him $20,000 In Winnings
Screenshot: Alex Jacob (HQ Trivia)

If you play HQ, a trivia app that supposedly doles out cash prizes, this kind of story might be familiar to you: someone won money from the game but can’t cash out and have access to it. The “someone” in this case is controversial Jeopardy player Alex Jacob, who has been trying to get his $20,000 jackpot for the past month to no avail.


HQ has been going through a lot of changes, most of them not great. Last week the company laid off 20% of its dwindling staff, who were already frustrated with the decisions of its CEO, Rus Yusupov, who is now the sole person in charge after HQ’s co-founder, Colin Kroll, died in December. The game lost a beloved host, Scott Rogowsky, who was not allowed to say farewell to his audience, and that same audience is frustrated with HQ’s attempts to get more people to spend money on the game through buying extra lives or purchasing an upcoming $10 monthly subscription, which will give paid players access to more games. Unfortunately, HQ is also still plagued by cheaters.

The one consistent thing about HQ is just as depressing as all the changes to the company and its business model. People have a hard time actually getting their money when they win it. It’s perennial to the point that if you search “hq cash out” on Twitter, you’ll find dozens of players trying to get the money they say they’ve earned through being good at trivia.

Alex Jacob, a former professional poker player and six time Jeopardy champion, is now in that camp of people who want HQ to give him his money. According to a tweet from last night, Jacob won a $20,000 jackpot on June 10, and still hasn’t been able to cash out a month later.

During his run on Jeopardy, where Jacob both thrilled and frustrated fans by jumping around categories looking for Daily Doubles and then betting so much money that no one could overtake him, Jacob earned over $150,000 and also won the $250,000 grand prize during the Tournament of Champions. To him, $20,000 might not be all that much money, but as he wrote in his tweet, he still wants HQ to “honor their jackpots.”

“I am getting a lot of interview requests,” Jacob said in a follow up tweet. “I would honestly rather just get paid and not have to do any of them. Please make this right HQ Trivia.”


Kotaku reached out to both Jacob and HQ, and neither responded in time for publication.

A post about Jacob’s situation is one of the highest upvoted on the HQ subreddit and filled with similar stories about being unable to cash out. It’s also one of the few posts to break over a hundred upvotes on the subreddit. (The other three posts that reached over a hundred upvotes are about not liking the upcoming subscription model, missing Scott Rogowsky or a screencap of Scott Rogowsky talking shit about the company.)


There’s still a chance that Jacob could get paid, or even that HQ’s subscription model could turn things around, but it seems like the audience for HQ is ready to move on. Good news for people who schedule events for bars and community centers—as long as you deliver on your prizes, there are thousands of people who desperately need a trivia fix.



the new format is total bullshit and ruined the game, but effectively means that they’re paying less money than ever (if they actually pay out), even though the “prize” is supposedly $200K or more.

It used to be 12 questions, getting progressively harder (but still googlable for the most part) use one life per game. tricky but doable. Now there’s something like 22 questions, you can use three lives per game BUT with the points system you can actually get free passes up until question 10 (which means a fuck ton of people still in), first prize on question 12 which is always like $0.06, you can’t use lives after q12, and the questions are shit that you have to guess at (“which is the name of the farm owned by the mother of the artist of the painting seen here?”) right from the start. it’s basically rigged so nobody wins, they’re probably awarding ~1000 per game, if that, and they then don’t pay out if anyone DOES win.

It was fun while it lasted, but the whole trivia app scene is dead.