One of the former hosts of the one-time megapopular HQ Trivia is coming forward on TikTok to claim that the upcoming CNN documentary on the app’s rise and fall might not tell the entire story.
Actress Sarah Pribis was one of the original hosts of the game show when it was first launched in 2017 by the co-founders of Vine, another once-viral social media platform. Pribis was hired to substitute when the game’s primary host, Scott Rogowsky, was absent.
HQ Trivia hosted two live shows daily that allowed viewers to win cash prizes for correctly answering trivia questions within 10 seconds. When it first launched, the app was dubbed “the future of media” by several outlets and was in the top 10 most-downloaded free iPhone games for months.
At its peak, over 2.3 million people were logged on to HQ Trivia at once. It had a $100 million valuation. Then, almost exactly three years ago, on Feb. 14, 2020, HQ shut down. Just as fast as the app had skyrocketed into the cultural lexicon, it imploded from technical issues, funding problems and fighting among personnel.
On March 5, CNN Films will premiere its documentary on the app. Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia will feature interviews with former host Rogowsky and other players from inside and outside the company. But Pribis says she wasn’t asked to be a part of the documentary outside of being contacted for fact-checking purposes after everything was filmed.
A source close to the film told In The Know, “Sarah was contacted during the production of the film and she connected with the team for a pre-interview off-camera. She provided helpful context and the film team is grateful for her participation.”
“I was one of the hosts for two years, and they never reached out to interview me,” she claimed in a TikTok. “I have a few suspicions as to why.”
Pribis said she was hosting four or five shows a week and was even the host for the first game in which over 1 million players tuned in.
“It really did breed this competitive environment between everyone there,” she said about finding success hosting on the app. “[Rogowsky and I] weren’t mean to each other, but the higher-ups made us feel like we were replaceable.”
In The Know reached out to one of the HQ Trivia founders, Rus Yusupov, but has not heard back as of reporting.
Pribis, who has been transparent about the money she made while working on the show, said that it was this environment that suppressed her from asking for a raise for over a year. As the app was blowing up, she was still only making $150 an episode.
“I’m not a martyr, I’m not a victim,” she prefaced. “I’m just here to tell my story.”
In addition to the little money she was making, Pribis said she also wasn’t given a wardrobe budget or even an option for a stylist — she just wore what she had. In one instance, she claimed, after hosting, a higher-up allegedly texted her, “Never wear that again.”
“I think he didn’t like it wasn’t a dress,” Pribis guessed. “But he wasn’t able to articulate that to me.”
Another major contribution to the toxic environment Pribis experienced was the live chat that occurred during the trivia game.
“When I first started filling in for Scott, this ‘free Scott’ movement started,” she recalled. “Not only were people spamming the chat demanding him; there were degrading comments and people who were just outright cruel.”
Pribis mentioned that there were moderators in the chat but, to Pribis and some former players who commented on her TikTok, it didn’t seem like they were helping the situation.
“Wait,” one person replied to Pribis’s TikTok. “You’re telling me there were actually moderators there?”
“I would go home, try to watch my performance back, see the chat and cry,” Pribis said.
Even as things started to turn around — Pribis said she was making more money and her hosting schedule was more consistent — suddenly, she was “ghosted.”
“I went insane trying to figure out what I did wrong,” she said. “Eight months later they brought me back, no mention of it.”
As of now, Pribis hasn’t gone into more detail about why she initially got fired but did mention in a video that she eventually figured out what happened.
Ultimately, Pribis said she’s not “pissed” at HQ Trivia or CNN Films about the upcoming documentary. In response to one commenter, she said, “It’s just been nice to finally share my POV.”
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