Forget Old Spice Guy; Meet Price Is Right Guy

Everybody’s been linking to this, but somehow this seems like perfect Friday reading to me: Chris Jones’s article on Terry Kniess, the guy who guessed the exact Actual Retail Price in the Price is Right Showcase Showdown. In his 2008 appearance on the show, Kniess managed two “perfect bids,” first on the item that gets you out of Contestant’s Row (these perfect bids, while rare, do happen), and then on the bad lesser-priced Showcase, winning both Showcases. No one had ever guessed the exact price of a Showcase before, and coming right after that other bid, it seemed suspicious — particularly because, in that particular episode, everybody seemed to be winning. Because the show had just fired its longtime producer, Roger Dobkowitz, there were fears that he might have given away “the show’s secrets” to get revenge, and there was that former contestant in the audience, Ted Slauson, an expert on the game who specialized in being helpful to contestants he liked. Anyway, read the whole thing.

Not really knowing exactly what caused the perfect bids (except the obvious, that if it had been a carefully thought-out plan he’d have guessed five dollars more or less, rather than exactly on the nose), the more interesting part to me is how the guy who lost the most out of this seems to have been Drew Carey: because he was genuinely worried that the fix might be in, he didn’t react with the enthusiasm the audience expected when this guy did the impossible. Bob Barker says he’d have celebrated the victory and, I guess, worried about it later. But he’d have had the advantage of absolute security, the knowledge that people wouldn’t blame him if someone turned out to be a cheater. Carey and producer Kathy Greco, both being relatively new to the job, were not as secure; if this blew up into a major scandal they’d both be doomed. So you can see why Carey couldn’t feign enthusiasm, but the result was to anger a large portion of the viewing audience, which — absent a scandal — wondered why this guy was such a wet blanket.

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Also find it interesting that Kniess and his wife sold many of the prizes to pay the taxes on the winnings. Not that I feel bad for anyone who wins big, but it reminds me of a guy who won a “home showcase” (I think this was in the ’80s). The contest was for people at home to submit their bids on a package of prizes; Barker spoke to the winner, who’d guessed incredibly close (but not exactly right), on the phone. The winner was extremely unenthusiastic, bored even. When Barker called him out on it, the guy replied: “Well, I’m a little worried about taxes, Bob.”