The twist at the end of Hang Up is straightforward: the winning Caller gets to choose between an all-expenses-paid vacation with the Star, or walk away from the Star and take a cash prize instead. But the choice between those options is not always simple.

I get why most listeners want the winning Caller to choose the vacation instead of the cash prize. From the beginning, we’re rooting for the Star to make a connection. And the choice of the vacation is one point of validation that a connection is really happening.

But the cash prize is designed to be an equally valid choice. We are introducing complete strangers, and it's just as likely for them to hit it off as to not. Perhaps even more likely to not!

And most of the Callers do seriously consider the cash at some point during their Hang Up journey.

So I want to share why I think the cash is an equally logical option, although it might not feel that way from the experience of listening.

One reason is that the Star connects with even the final Callers for only a very limited time, a little more than 3 hours total. This breaks down to something like:

  • Speed Dial Date: 7 mins
  • Touch Tone Date: ~30ish mins
  • Phone a Friend Date: 0 mins (the Star doesn't talk to them at all!)
  • *69 Date: ~60 mins
  • Three-Way Date: ~90 mins

Also, these three hours are split up over the course of 6 to 8 weeks of production, so there's a lot of time in between with no contact. Remember, there's no texting or communication outside of the show.

Alongside this limited time is the lack of context– you don't know your date's real name, and there are crucial details we ask them to exclude, such as the name of where they work. That's because they are all living near each other during production of the show and we don't want them to run into each other. Trying to not get clocked became a big issue with one Caller in particular in Season 2; listen to the Caller Exit Interview: *69 to hear them talk about it.

And finally, the Star and their Callers never see each other. For a show like Love is Blind, a lot of participants say they want to make sure that a potential partner isn't being shallow. But even beyond physical attraction, I get that it can be quite a leap to commit to a multi-day vacation with someone you've never seen before and only spent a few hours talking to. And who couldn't use an extra $1000?

It's an interesting contrast, though, to other reality dating shows, particularly Love is Blind where participants only spend 10 days getting to know each other and limited hours of dating, sight unseen, before committing not just to a vacation but to marriage.

To each their own, I guess. I'll stick with the no rings attached 💍🚫

Our live reunion show is upcoming on Saturday, July 13th at Albuquerque Social Club in New Mexico.

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Leave a comment with a question you'd like us to ask Timo and their Callers here.

See you then!

If you can't make it, the audio episode will be out soon after, and for our paid members, get ready for a video sent straight to your inbox 💨

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Their argument is simultaneously silly and compelling, and you'll learn a ton about queer history along the way. I've been bumping their Queer Springsteen playlist while waiting for the next episode to drop.

In Defense of the Cash Prize