Mad Money is an American finance television program hosted by Jim Cramer that began airing on CNBC on March 14, 2005. Its main focus is investment and speculation, particularly in publicly traded securities. In a notable departure from the CNBC programming style prior to its arrival, Mad Money presents itself in an entertainment-style format rather than a news broadcasting one.
Cramer defines "mad money" as the money one "can use to invest in stocks ... not retirement money, which you want in 401K or an IRA, a savings account, bonds, or the most conservative of dividend-paying stocks."
Mad Money replaced Dylan Ratigan's Bullseye for the 6 p.m. Eastern Time slot. On January 8, 2007, CNBC began airing reruns of the show at 11 p.m. Eastern Time, on Monday through Friday, and at 4 a.m. Eastern Time, on Saturdays.
Cramer usually starts off his shows by saying this, or an alternative version of this phrase after the opening credits: "Hey, I'm Cramer, welcome to Mad Money, welcome to Cramerica, other people want to make friends [at this point, Cramer adds an extra, original statement], I just want to make you money, because my job is not just to entertain you, but to educate you, so call me at 1-800-743-CNBC."
Cramer is usually standing up with the fisheye lens Steadicam close to his face, while providing stock picks and investing advice. His voice inflection often changes from calm to shouting. Cramer also throws various objects on the set. Whenever one of his books is mentioned by a caller, he grabs the book, flashes it, and tosses it to the floor as a plug gag. In addition, he has a panel of oversized red buttons, which activate various sound effects. The online version of the show's sound board is available at madmoney.cnbc.com.
He also has small, plastic bulls (and bears) which he has incorporated into his shows. After a large gain in the Dow, Cramer, dressed as a chef, chopped off the heads of the bears with a knife and placed them into a pan with onions and tomatoes. He called it a "bear stir-fry" or a "bear souffle". On February 28, 2006 he put his toy bulls through various kitchen appliances. And on May 17, 2006, after a steep plunge of the Dow, Cramer cooked toy bulls through a rotisserie oven. The studio has also featured Cramer bobblehead dolls which utter phrases such as "Are You Ready Skee-Daddy?"
Also, Cramer has National Football League yellow penalty and red coach's challenge flags that he throws whenever he believes a company has behaved unethically (penalty) or when he questions a stock decision (coach's challenge), respectively. He will also throw the flag when a caller unethically uses the national television audience to promote a stock for self-interest. If a caller rambles on about a stock, Cramer will lie down on the floor of the set with a pillow and blanket and act as if he is going to sleep.
Other props include a box of Uncle Ben's rice, with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Ben Bernanke's picture, an audio version of Jim Cramer's Real Money, a Louisville Slugger baseball bat, and pink Mad Money pigs.
On the May 19, 2006 episode, Cramer had a monkey named Ka-ching make an appearance on the show. Ka-ching wore a CNBC T-shirt, sat in Cramer's chair, pressed the buttons that made sound effects, and threw the foam bulls around the set.
In October 2006, a customized Daktronics BB-2122 scoreboard was installed, featuring drawings of bulls on the left and bears on the right. The scoreboard also shows the date, but in the Sudden Death segment, the date turns into a countdown clock to the end of the segment. The Daktronics BB-2122 scoreboard is not used during Back to School road shows.
The general format of the show starts with two segments, where Cramer recommends one or more stocks in a group with his rationale for choosing them. At the end of each segment, Cramer will take one or two calls from viewers with questions about either the stock he recommended, or another stock in the same industry or which the viewer thinks may benefit from the topic discussed.
The third segment is the Lightning Round. Segments four and five will feature either one of the segments listed below or another recommendation. Cramer does not take calls on these later segments except for the Am I Diversified?, Stump the Cramer, and Sudden Death segments. Sudden Death is the final segment of the show.
According to CNBC's Mad Money website (as of August 2007), Mad Money regularly includes the following segments:
The other segments featured on Mad Money (some of which are no longer current) include the following:
Subtitles are frequently used to underscore some of the "bullet points" in Cramer's presentations. They are also used to explain some of the off-topic, obscure historical, literary, or pop-cultural references he may make. Subtitles are also used for disclosure stocks owned by Cramer's charitable trust, ActionAlertsPlus.com, for disclaimers related to any claims made by callers (such as how listening to Mad Money has made the caller mad money), and to show callers' names.
The only segment which appears on every Mad Money show is the Lightning Round segment, where viewers call in (on live shows, they stand before a microphone in the audience) and ask Cramer about a specific stock. He claims, however, that he does not know the callers, and that he does not know their stock questions ahead of time. And he also claims that his staff prepares the graphics on the fly. (Information about how to call in is given to callers at 1-800-743-CNBC.)
Cramer's object is to showcase his encyclopedic knowledge of stocks (and his flamboyant personality) and give callers a second opinion on their stock ideas. He takes as many calls as possible before a buzzer goes off to indicate the end of the round. When this happens, Cramer gets upset and usually takes a few more calls. After this, the Daktronics buzzer goes off at his signal, and the segment is over.
In the past, prior to beginning of the segment, Cramer would abuse the office chair provided for him by throwing it on top of other "victims" (damaged office chairs), also damaging the studio's wall and glass displays as well. The damage was made apparent by a caller in the Lightning Round on March 1, 2006, which prompted Cramer to throw his chair again at the glass display, causing it to crack even more. Cramer has said that the reason why he throws chairs is because he hates sitting down on the job. He often had to be at his old hedge fund by 4:30 a.m., and if his employees sat down they would often try to go to sleep, so chairs became "the enemy".
The segment usually airs between 25 and 30 minutes past the hour for approximately 8 minutes. Additionally, a new "Overtime" session debuted at the end of The Lightning Round on the March 2, 2006 episode. In conjunction with the buzzer going off, a siren was heard, the "On Air" light flashed repeatedly, and the monitors around the set had Cramer rotating infinitely with lightning and siren images merged into the background, that latter also displayed on the viewer's TV screen at random intervals. Cramer took 5 more calls after this. However, the "Overtime" session was discontinued, starting with the Mad Money 1st Anniversary show on March 14, 2006. The newer "Sudden Death" segment at the end of the show now uses any time remaining at the end of the show for an even more rapid "Overtime"-like session.
Another change to the Lightning Round, mostly to add more callers on the segment, started on the March 24, 2006 episode, when Cramer stated that he would no longer throw the chair at the start of the Lightning Round everyday, reserving it only for select occasions, mostly when he can "justify" throwing it due because of negative events, bad market days, or lies are said about stocks which he could refute (those are usually put on the chair to be thrown). Cramer eliminated the chair-throwing from the set entirely in 2007. He claimed his doctor advised him to do so.
On February 25, 2008, Cramer introduced a Web-only version of the Lightning Round, dubbed Lightning Round Overtime. This feature has additional stock picks that are not seen on the television broadcast. Lightning Round Overtime can be viewed only on the program's Website (high-speed Internet connection required).
On May 24, 2005, a viewer asked Cramer by e-mail on Mad Money's Mad Mail segment what his boo-yah! catch phrase means, and he said did not have a clue. On the next day, viewers e-mailed him claiming that Cramer's boo-yah! catch phrase is similar to the Booyah registered trademark of the Booyah Bait Company or to the phrase of SportsCenter''s Stuart Scott, but Cramer answered that his phrase is not copied from that company nor from Stuart Scott, and means "Are you ready to make some money?"
On the August 19, 2005 episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Cramer explained the origin of boo-yah: "Here's what happened: A guy calls me on my radio show, and he says 'You made me a 100 smackers on K-Mart— a hundred points...' —he's from New Orleans— '...and we have one word for that down here and it's boo-yah.' Then the next guy calls and he says 'you know you made me a lot of money on [a stock] so: boo-yah!' And now they all say it. It's not my rap". One documented early use of the phrase occurs in the rap lyrics of hip-hop band Cypress Hill's 1991 song Hand on the Pump. In this recording, the word is repeatedly employed as onomatopoeia, to suggest the sound heard whenever the song's narrater shoots a victim with a sawed-off shotgun.
The boo-yah has since become a common first greeting phrase of his callers. A popular trend is for callers to have their young children shout boo-yah; Cramer will announce "a familial booyah" and push the "crowd cheering" button. Recently, there have also been callers who have their fraternity or sorority friends shout boo-yah; Cramer will also announce "a collegiate/fraternity/sorority booyah" and push the "crowd cheering" button. Another trend on the show is the "stuttering" boo-yah, "b-b-b-b-ooo-yah!" Callers often start the call by chanting "boo-yah" then the state they are calling from. Such as: "boo-yah from Sunny California."
Another featured catch-phrase is "Are you ready, skee-daddy?" Another commonality is for a caller to ask "Hows momma doin'?" to which Cramer replies "Momma doin' fine."
See also Booya.
In June 2005, a viewer explained to Cramer by e-mail the difference between a pig and a hog, which is a domesticated pig, so Cramer changed one of his catch phrases to "Bulls make money. Bears make money. Hogs get slaughtered."
Mad Money has featured special broadcasts, the first four in 2005 and 2006, respectively, were referred to as Mad Money Main Event, while the 2006-present shows (other than the July 12, 2006 edition, which was also referred to as Mad Money Main Event) was referred to as Mad Money Back to School.
The first Mad Money Main Event was broadcast on July 20, 2005. Cramer had his show taped in front of a live studio audience of about 150 guests. The show was promoted on CNBC using commercials that showed Cramer locked up in a padded room in a straitjacket and tape over his mouth, as if in a mental institution (a reference to Cramer's book, the subtitle of which is "Sane Investing in an Insane World"). The Main Event was introduced by boxing announcer Michael Buffer with his catch phrase "Let's get ready to rumble!". The featured guest on the show was then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (a classmate of Cramer at Harvard Law School). Cramer went into the crowd and gave high fives to audience members who claimed to have had made money by following his stock tips. True to the commercials, it featured a segment titled Am I Nuts?, which had audience members asking Cramer about their stocks. Mad Money was expanded to a special 90 minute edition for this occasion.
Mad Money Main Event II premiered on October 26, 2005. In the commercials, Cramer is now a surgeon instead of a patient, who performs surgery on the crippling economy (in this case, from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, yet there were other factors). While "operating", Cramer proclaims "The bull's alive!" signifying that he was successful. It featured special guest Donald Trump. It ran for only 60 minutes and brought back Am I Nuts? from the first Main Event; this has been the trend for future shows.
The fifth Mad Money Main Event show was broadcast on July 12, 2006. Like the second and third Main Event shows, Cramer entered the studio as a surgeon. His featured guest in the fifth edition was Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC Universal.
Mad Money Ladies' Night was broadcast on January 22, 2008 and featured an all-female studio audience. This show also brought back the rarely-seen Am I Nuts? segment. Unlike all of the prior Main Event and Back to School shows that aired, there was no featured guest.
It is interesting to note that on each of the Main Events thus far, significant stock market activity has coincidentally occurred (e.g. Google reaching a price of 350, which Cramer had predicted, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average attaining a 4-year high.)
The first Mad Money Back to School event was broadcast on February 1, 2006 from Harvard (Cramer's alma mater). Cramer's special guest was then-New York Attorney General and future New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was a classmate of Cramer's at Harvard Law School. Cramer said that his favorite part of the taping was the question-and-answer session with students; due to the nature of the show, however, this segment was limited to approximately five minutes.
Football players Joey Armao, Stephen Sheehan and Carl Ehrlich assisted Jim in the Lightning Round. Cramer noted the three players were wearing Under Armour gear, and noted the downgrade of the company by a firm. He did not like the downgrade, and the players assisted him in grabbing the chairs for the signature chair throw. But the players seemed to jump the gun too early, grabbing the chairs before Cramer gave the signal to start the Lightning Round. Once Cramer gave the signal, "Are you ready, skee daddy?", the players gave him a strong "Booyah!" before throwing the chairs to start the signature round.
The commercials promoting the event primarily featured "Britney", a cheerleader obsessed with Cramer (she has multiple copies of Cramer's book – "in case I want to read it more than once" – is smitten by Cramer's picture and bobblehead doll, and ends the commercials with the phrase "give your investments something to cheer about--Booyah!"). On the January 30, 2006 episode (the last live episode before the event, the January 31 episode was a special featuring Cramer's top 10 American industrial stocks), the final Lightning Round caller was identified as "Britney from Colorado"; this was a promo for the upcoming event as the caller was the "Britney" featured on the commercials. The "Back to School" cheerleading campaign was thought up by Creative Director Dan Hoffman, who featured his cousin as the lead cheerleader Britney.
The first Back to School broadcast gave Mad Money its single highest rated episode since it was launched. The 6 p.m. ET airing produced a record 365,000 viewers, while the subsequent 9 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET airings gave the program 138,000 and 128,000 viewers respectively.
The second Back to School broadcast originated from the University of Michigan on April 25, 2006. Once again, commercials featuring the aforementioned "Britney" have aired at the beginning of segment breaks. Originally, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was Cramer's second stop on the tour with an air date of March 29, 2006, but this visit was cancelled due to "logistics." Cramer's special guest on the second Back to School broadcast was David Brandon, CEO of Domino's Pizza.
The third Back to School broadcast originated from Columbia University in New York City on May 16, 2006, again promoted by the aforementioned "Britney" commercials. In that episode, a female audience member assisted Jim in throwing a beach chair at the start of the Lightning Round. Cramer's special guests were George David, CEO of United Technologies, and Raymond Milchovich, CEO of Foster Wheeler. This episode was the lowest rated Back to School edition to-date.
The fourth Back to School edition was broadcast from Boston College on September 20, 2006. Once again, it was being promoted by the "Britney" commercials. Cramer's special guest on the fourth Back to School show was Tim Russert, NBC News Washington bureau chief and moderator of Meet the Press and his son, Luke Russert (who was a student at Boston College).
The fifth Back to School edition was broadcast from Georgetown University in Washington, DC on September 29, 2006, promoted once more by the "Britney" commercials. Georgetown was the final stop for the 2006 leg of the Mad Money Back to School college tour. Cramer's special guest on the fifth Back to School show was NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory.
The Mad Money Back to School college tour resumed with the sixth Back to School broadcast on February 7, 2007. The first stop in the 2007 leg of the tour was at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. Cramer's special guest on the sixth edition was Celgene President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Robert J. Hugin.
The second stop in this leg was on March 20, 2007 at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin. Cramer's special guest on the seventh edition was William R. Johnson, President, Chairman, and CEO of H.J. Heinz Co.
The third stop in this leg was on April 4, 2007 at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. The show was actually broadcast from the school's basketball arena, Assembly Hall. Cramer's special guest on the eighth edition was Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and a 1981 Indiana University graduate.
The fourth stop in this year's tour was on September 7, 2007 at the Marshall School of Business at USC. Cramer's special guest on the ninth Back to School edition was Bob Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
The fifth stop in this year's tour took place on October 18, 2007 at the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Management located in Atlanta. It was originally scheduled to take place on April 24, 2007, but was postponed and rescheduled, due to the on-campus shooting deaths at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia on April 16, 2007. Cramer's special guest on the tenth edition was E. Neville Isdell, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. Incidentally, Cramer's interview with Isdell was filmed on location at that company's headquarters in Atlanta. This is the first Mad Money to be filmed outdoors and was filmed in the center atrium of the Management Building in the new Tech Square section of the campus. Georgia Tech was the final stop for the 2007 leg of the Back to School college tour.
The Back to School college tour resumed on March 26, 2008 at the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University. This was the first stop on the 2008 leg of the college tour and the 11th Back to School broadcast overall.
On March 14, 2006, the 1st Mad Money Anniversary show occurred. The episode was a mix of answering stock questions with a great number of clips from previous episodes.
The anniversary special also introduced two new sound button animations, replacing the original bull and bear animations with more animated, cartoonish bulls and bears, but retaining the green and red backgrounds. (Green means up, and red means down on a ticker.) Also, during the Lightning Round, when callers made mention of the book (Jim Cramer's Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World), they were greeted by 4 dancing girls holding large cardboard cutouts of the front cover.
On March 14, 2007, the 2nd Mad Money Anniversary show occurred. The episode looked at highlights from the show's sophomore year, including clips of guests Cramer has interviewed on the show.
The 500th episode of Mad Money aired on June 11, 2007. The episode featured memorable clips from some of the first 499 episodes, as well as a mix of call-ins and stock questions.
A special Father's Day episode of Mad Money aired on June 14, 2007. Mad Money: It's a Family Affair, featured children (10 years and older) and parents in the studio audience. Ken Cramer (Jim's father) made a special guest appearance on that show.
The 3rd Mad Money Anniversary show aired on March 14, 2008. This episode was taped in front of a live studio audience (just like the previous Main Event and Back to School shows) and featured memorable clips from the first 3 years of the show. The rarely-seen "Am I Nuts?" segment also returned.
Mad Money has promoted two viewer challenges, one in late 2005 and another in early 2006.
In October 2005, the Mad Money Challenge was introduced—an online stock trading game where people ('investors') must earn the most money possible by investing in real stocks on the NASDAQ and NYSE. Players received $100,000 in false money to invest in any stock they wanted.
From October 2005 to December 20, 2005, over 40,000 people participated, with the top investor (identified as "Greg from Massachusetts") winning with more than $250,000 and having the opportunity to speak with Cramer live on Mad Money.
In this contest (which ended on February 28, 2006), viewers attempted to utter the most creative "Booyah." The two winners were featured in the July 12, 2006 Mad Money Main Event, and assisted Cramer in the chair toss at the start of the Lightning Round.
The show is recorded occasionally with a live studio audience around 4 p.m. most weekdays for air that night, to be repeated occasionally when a live show is not viable. As the show is being ingested digitally in the Thomson Grass Valley MAN, the show is assembled by the editor and producer to be made into the air product viewers watch Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. (ET). When difficulties arise, the show is occasionally "hot-rolled".
As of August 2007, among the many Mad Money contributors are executive producer Regina Gilgan; producer Rich Flynn; head writer Cliff Mason; tape producer Chris Schwarz, responsible for creating and delivering the final show to air, after creating special Avid Adrenaline edited elements by CNBC Staff Avid Editors such as Darren Kotler, Conrad deVroeg, Nick Stantzos, and Steven Banton, and constructing the show with CNBC Staff Grass Valley NewsEdit Editors Keri Conjura, Vanessa Rowe, Julie Lajterman, and Cosimo Camporeale. Producers Kat Ricker, George Manessis, and Benjamin Rippey compile elements needed for air, and help determine the show's editorial direction.
Original music for Mad Money was composed and performed by Willie Wilcox of Willie Wilcox Music.
On May 2, 2007, the program unveiled its second-generation on-air graphics package, replacing what was used—including its opening graphic sequence—since its March 14, 2005 debut. In the current graphics package, the program's lower third changed its background color from red to yellow on November 26, 2007.
Jim Cramer has been quoted as saying that Mad Money "is a show that is about education, entertainment and making money". The show features a disclaimer at the start of the program to that effect.