Price is Right returned for its 42nd season this week on CBS. With so many television shows barely surviving one season, it’s amazing that this game show has been able to survive the decades. This summer, I had the opportunity to attend a Price is Right rehearsal, taping and interview Host Drew Carey and Executive Producer Mike Richards.

The enthusiasm and energy reverberated off the walls of the studio as soon as the potential contestants entered the room to find their seats. The audience was there to have fun, cheer loud, while they all sat in anticipation that they would hear their name and “Come on down” announced. 

After standing in line for hours, the energy level had not dulled at all. If anything, it heightened from the moment they entered until the end of the taping. With each name called and game played, the audience’s yelling and cheering was thunderous. At times, it was so loud that it was difficult to hear the contestants or Drew Carey on stage.

Both Richards and Carey provided some tips on how the Price of Right contestants are selected and tips to win games. I always assumed that the contestants were picked at random, but they aren’t. Each name called is individually selected from the attendees.

Getting the Call to “Come on Down”

Richards explained that the show has a Contestant Producer, Stan, who interviews all 300 people in line for the two shows a day. He commended Stan’s ability to interview the audience members “with an enormous amount of energy. He gives everyone a fighting chance to talk to them. He gets them going. It’s amazing. To do that times 600 each day.”

Is it the unique t-shirt or outfit that gets a person called to “Come on down”? Richards said that’s only one component in the selection process “They are looking at the whole thing. Great t-shirt without personality? No. Does it help? Yes. But, a lot of other things go into it — the mix of the contestants for that day. We love it if they show dedication. Especially the homemade [shirts] are particularly fun to us because it shows that high level of interest.”

What’s the best tip to get the call to play? Be interesting. He said “We’re looking for different kinds of contestants. People that you haven’t seen. Not weird. That’s not what we’re going for, but people that you can play along with and cheer for.”

Tips to Win the Games

Carey believes he’s picked up clues about the games that if he played, he’d have a good chance of winning. He provided some hints to help people if they get the call to play Price is Right.

One of the most confusing games on Price is Right is Pay the Rent. Carey finds it challenging and has to be very careful about how he explains the game, because it’s the most misunderstood.

“I have to make sure I explain [Pay the Rent] really clearly. And, it’s annoying to me. I always say it’s not necessarily least expensive to most expensive. I can’t say it’s not least expensive to most expensive because one day it might be,” 

Carey continues, “So, I always have to say it’s not necessarily least expensive to most expensive. And, [the contestants] always pick the cheapest thing put it in the mailbox and lose $100,000 right away. As soon as they put the cheapest thing in the mailbox, I go they lost $100 grand in my head.”

Another common misconception is about the price of cars. Carey clears that up, “A lot of times people think that cars end in like 95 or 50, which they don’t. So they’ll pick those numbers. I know to eliminate those numbers to increase my odds of picking the right number.” 

He explains why people have those numbers in their head, “Car payments end in 95, 50, and 99. And, when you look in the paper all you see is the payment, you never see the car price. In the ad, you always see the payment, so that’s why people see car got to be 98 or 95.”

Carey said he didn’t have a favorite game, “I like when people win. I don’t care what game it is.” 

30th Anniversary of Plinko

One of the show’s most popular game is Plinko. During the rehearsal, I had the opportunity to play this game even though it wasn’t actually used on the episode I saw taped. I didn’t win much fake money. Though, one of the other journalists had the touch and skill. She placed the disk in the middle slot and won the top prize three times in a row. 

On Friday, September 27, Price is Right will be celebrating Plinko’s anniversary with a special all-Plinko episode when all six contestants who make it on stage will have the opportunity to play the iconic game.  

Have you played Price is Right? Share your experience in the comments. And, make sure to tune in for the special Plinko episode!

The Price is Right airs weekdays at 11 am ET on CBS

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(Image courtesy of CBS.)

Carla Day

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Contributing Editor and Writer for Collider, BuddyTV, TV Fanatic, CliqueClack, and other publications. TV criticism, reviews, interviews with actors and producers, and other related content. Founder of TV Diehard.