Mar 23 2009

That one time I was on The Price is Right

At some point in high school, I came up with the grand idea of trying to get on The Price is Right. Why? More like, “Why not?”

I opted not to run track or cross-country during my senior year, and instead got a job at Osco Drug. I wanted to save money for college — and for my big trip to Los Angeles. In June 2003, my mom, grandma, and friend flew west with the hopes of meeting Bob Barker.

On the morning of my 18th birthday, we showed up at CBS Studios in Hollywood with our “tickets.” These tickets don’t guarantee a spot in the studio. They’re just good enough for getting in line, basically. We were there at about 5 a.m.

After waiting around for several hours, the staff let us know that we wouldn’t even make it in the studio that day. Meep! It was a bummer but we picked up tickets for the following day and resolved to try again.

We returned at some ridiculous hour — 3:30 or maybe 4 a.m. We spotted our new pal, Kevin, who we had chatted with the day prior. He also wanted another shot at making it into the studio audience.

As luck would have it, we were early enough to make it in the studio. Hooray! Each person in the audience had a quickie interview with the producing staff. We were supposed to tell him a little about ourselves and show our charming personalities and the like.

My mom and I later noticed that Producer Man had a code word for people he wanted on the show. He’d say, “I hear ya,” in response to something a potential contestant said. He said this to me and Kevin!

Going inside the studio was such a surreal experience. The set was as cheesy as it looks on TV, but it looked much smaller inside. It was also as cold as a refrigerator ! I thought about putting on my sweatshirt, but I realized that it would cover up my name tag, and what would happen when they called my name to come on down? Bad things, that’s what.

They called the first four contestants to come on down, and I wasn’t among them. I wasn’t worried. They called someone else. Hmm.

Next thing I know, I hear “Kacie (Lastname!)! Come on down, you’re the next contestant on the Price is Right!!!!” Wooo! I couldn’t believe it, and yet, I sort of knew it would happen. It had to happen.

We bid on a dinette set. I lowballed a $600 bid. Whoops. The lady who won that round ended up getting it exactly right for a $500 bonus! She won a car in her game. Oh, and she was the very first person in line that day. Yay, her!

Who was the next player to come on down? None other than my line friend, Kevin! I was happy for him, but I wanted to be a better bidder.

The next round, I was in it to win it. We were bidding on a La-Z-Boy chair and ottoman. I happened to be the last bidder. Serious as a heart attack, I looked Bob in the eye and said “$951.” Yes, I was “that” bidder, the one who bids a dollar higher than the highest bid. That’s how ya get on stage, sorry.

I won! The chair was something like $1,100.

On stage, I played a game called “Magic Number.” I had to set my number between the price of two prizes — a ginormous queen-sized bed and an elaborate set of dishes. Um, do any 18-year-olds have any idea what either of those items cost? I didn’t.

The audience yelled at me, but I couldn’t hear them. I just set it to some random number and I hoped for the best. $1,271, I think it was. Thereabouts. Again, I’d have to check the tape.

My number was magic enough! It was between the price of both prizes. I won! Wheeeeeee!

I spun the big wheel, and boy, is it heavy. No wonder some people have a hard time with it. It landed on $0.10. I spun again, this time getting $0.95. Over by a nickel. (Click for sound effect ). Oh, well. I had won three prizes every 18-year-old could want, and I had followed through on a rather absurd life goal.

I was pretty happy!

Kevin made it on stage as well. He ended up in the showcase but overbid.

My total prize value was around $5,000. I had to pay California sales tax, and I had to claim the prize value as income on my income taxes. In all, I think I paid about $500 for my prizes. Yuck.

Since I went away to college shortly after that, I didn’t have a place to keep my loot. My prizes lived with my parents for several years. Finally, when Shane and I moved to Pittsburgh, I got to bring my stuff with me.

The bed is super-comfortable. It’s also extremely heavy and I’ll probably have to hire movers to get it out of here when we move out of our apartment someday. The dishes are unique and fun. The chair is hideous, but I love it because of how I got it.

Moral of the story? Don’t just say, “I want to be on The Price is Right someday.” Save money, go to L.A., stand in line, and do it!

14 Responses to “That one time I was on The Price is Right”

  1. Ok… we have to see pics! lol :)

    That is way too cool!

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  2. LOL! Me and some buddies of mine made the trip to LA after spring semester of 2001 and had a similar experience. We went the day our original tickets were for and didn’t realize you had to stand in the line for hours before to actually get in, so we got tickets for later in the week and rented a room at the dive motel across the street and got in the line around 4am (which was early enough to be around #50 in line). We met some interesting people in the line, like this old black lady named Agnes who was sweet as could be and ended up winning two cars and some other crap, and a couple of lesbian truckers from Utah (who knew there were lesbian truckers in Utah?).

    My friend who was an LSU football player and wearing his jersey got up to contestants’ row at the beginning of the show and won a $1000 stereo system, and then played for a nice bedroom set in one of the grocery item pricing games. It was a ridiculously hard game where the total of your price guesses for six items couldn’t be more than $1 off from the actual total, something it sounds like you could have been good at. Anyway, he ended up off by $1.05 (so close!), but at least got the chance to be on TPIR and spin the big wheel.

    Definitely a memorable experience, although I’m pissed at myself that I somehow lost my tape of the show.

    Thanks for bringing back the great memories!

    BillyOceansEleven’s last blog post..Investing in metals, specifically copper-jacketed lead

  3. My husband and I saw a filming of “TPIR” on our honeymoon. didn’t make it ON the show, but still had a blast. LOVE Bob.

    I don’t know if people remember this guy – but there was a military guy named Thom McKee who was the all-time winner on Tic-Tac-Dough – he won something like $300K (which was huge back in the mid-1980s). Many years later he ended up being my church’s post-college singles group leader and he was AWESOME and very humble. We loved hearing the stories about what he did with the various prizes he won during his tenure on the show. GREAT guy and couldn’t have happened to anyone nicer.

  4. Hahaha, that is awesome! You’re the first person I’ve ever known who has been a contestant. I used to watch that show every weekend as a kid….Bob Barker is a childhood staple! How fun. I want to see pics, too :)

    Emily’s last blog post..Criminal Charges, Volume XXXIII: Tech scammers steal iPods, cell phone service

  5. that’s awesome! who knew, lol. :)

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  6. I love this! My son would be sooo jealous! He loves The Price is Right and has always wanted to be a contestant. Would love to see pics of your stash!

    Debbi’s last blog post..Loving the outdoors!

  7. I was never on the price is right but I love the show. I did enter a poster contest at Abbott lab. when I was 8. My dad and grandmother worked there so they talked me into coming up with their new safety slogan. I made a poster and put a boat on it. Then I had the idea that it needed a fishing hook to go with the boat. And yes, I stuck it into my finger. I was lucky enough not to bleed on the poster. Needless to say, I won. WOW I won a brand new Schwinn bike. It was the best day of my 8 year old life. We got it home and then I realized that I couldn’t ride it. But being the determined little person that I was I set out to learn right then. My parents and grandparents went in the house to celebrate my victory with a cup of coffee and left me to “learn”. I decided that my best plan of action was to try and learn to ride on the gravel road because it looked softer than the hard driveway. So I walked it onto the road, jumped on and was promptly attacked by a swarm of bees. The good news is I had some momentum going and the bad news is I had some momentum going. I some how managed to fly over the handle bars and came to a sliding halt on my face. I learned a valuable lesson that day. Gravel was not soft. And just to add insult to injury the extremely heavy metal bike came crashing down on top of me. So I ended up in the Dr.’s office. Who would of guessed it? The Dr. and 3 nurses were desperately trying to hold me down so they could pick gravel out of my lip with tweezers and what I thought was a tooth pick. Ahh yes modern medicine in the 70’s. It really didn’t look like a lip at that point, it was more like hamburger. Who knew that an 8 year old could so fiercely defend herself against so many adults? They eventual got tired and said there was no more they could do for me. And for all of my 8 year old efforts, I still have the tiniest piece of gravel in my lip. I have to say they really did a very good job and I don’ have a scar just if I push on my lip I can feel it. And if I smile real wide without lipstick on you can see a tiny white bump.
    I did eventually learn to ride a bike but it took a few years for me to work up the courage to get back on. And needless to say, my family wasn’t real jazzed on having me learn. The first day with my grand prize and I about killed myself.
    And the moral of my story is sometimes I can’t tell the good news from the bad. But I did learn that kids need training wheels and both of my kids first bikes had them.
    So to me winning stuff is a little scary!

    SonyaAnn’s last blog post..My son’s teacher

  8. Great story! At least you didn’t go into debt to buy that stuff when you first got married! lol…

    LIsa’s last blog post..A short break from the routine

  9. That’s hilarious! We were just talking about the show at lunch today (I live in LA, but only one of my colleagues has actually attended a taping) and speculating about how contestants who don’t live in the area get their prizes.

  10. That is a totally awesome story!! Makes me want to run out to LA! Ok, maybe not run but it’s something to consider if I ever get out there.

  11. Way cool!! I was on Montel Williams once. If I remember correctly, it was my first time ever on a plane. It was a whirlwind trip for I didn’t want to be away from my children any longer than necessary as they were pretty young at the time.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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