The $5.62 Trivia Pageant

If you played TikTok Trivia, we sure hope you celebrated with a Big Mac.

Published March 1, 2023

If you thought TikTok was just for wannabe Influencers, grown-up theater kids, and people you wouldn’t want to sit beside on a plane, well…you’re not wrong. But for five days last week, TikTok was also where people could get their nightly trivia fix. 

For five straight days, anyone who’s at least 18 years old and had a TikTok account could register to play TikTok Trivia, by either clicking on the widget in the For You feed or just searching for the #TikTokTrivia hashtag. (Also, if you’re not busy for the next seven months, try to explain that last sentence to your parents.) 

The interactive, multiple choice TikTok Trivia event featured two gameplay sessions for the first three days, and then a single game for the final two days. According to a statement from TikTok, the questions included “diverse quiz categories, including everything from lifestyle and sports to music and beauty.” Those “diverse categories” also involved a chunk of John Wick-related content, since this whole thing was sponsored by film production company Lionsgate and its upcoming release, John Wick 4

The company said that participants had a shot at winning a share of a $500,000 prize pool, but in reality, the monetary prizes had way fewer zeroes. NBC News reported that there were 5,289 winners in one round, which meant that each of them made $5.62 — barely enough to buy a Big Mac. Some people did take home a little more cash: journalist Daniel Cohen wrote that he took home $149.84 — but described the game as a “living hell.”

If all of that sounds a lot like HQ Trivia, that’s because… it’s a lot like HQ Trivia, just without everything that made that game fun. Critics of TikTok Trivia took issue with the questions — including at least one that had a questionable “correct” answer — the gameplay, the structure, and the host. 

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Nick Gallo, the head of HQ Trivia’s creative team, described his “disaster” of an experience. “The show took 9 minutes to ask the first question – nearly double the amount of time we would allot for HQ to get started,” he wrote. 

“While this slows things down, it isn’t inherently bad so long as the content is compelling enough to keep people engaged. That being said, the content fell flat – the host kept speaking in circles about instructions, rules and power-ups.” Gallo did say that he was “excited to see where the [TikTok] team goes from here,” after taking a shot at interactive gameplay.

TikTok has not said whether TikTok Trivia was a one-off, or whether it will return in the future.

A version of this story appeared on the news page of Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. We’re reposting it here mostly as a reminder to think things through better than this.