Almost everyone has a special relationship with The Price Is Right. Whether you've been watching since it premiered with Bob Barker in 1972 or got hooked after Drew Carey took over in 2007, there's no denying that the longest-running daytime game show in U.S. history has made an impact on so many viewers — and contestants, of course.
So, you've watched, but have you ever wondered what goes into making the show? We've done some investigating to find the rules that contestants on The Price Is Right follow. Lucky for you, during our research, we also discovered a few interesting rules by which producers must abide — so we included those too. (Heads up: The show has been on for a long time, so some of the details shared by former contestants and producers might have changed over the years.)
What are you waiting for? "Come on down" for a lot of Price Is Right rules and fun facts you probably never knew.
Contestants have to be a certain age.
According to this application form, contestants on The Price Is Right must be at least 18 years old.
And their employer matters.
The application makes clear that potential contestants must not be employed by CBS or any associated companies — and they must not be a candidate for public office.
You can be a contestant more than once — but there's a catch.
The application also states that contestants aren't eligible if they've been a contestant on a TV version of The Price Is Right within the last 10 years, or if they've been a contestant on more than four other TV game shows within the last 10 years.
Hopeful contestants have to be energetic — and funny.
Former longtime producer Stan Blits would interview everyone standing in line and make the call on who would compete. "I am looking for energy, sincerity and potential humor," he said in a 2013 interview. "And if they can equal my energy or exceed it and maintain it, they are at the top of the list."
And not just while they're waiting in line.
It's not enough to win Blits over before taping starts. He also looks to see who's still cheering as they get inside and who will have sufficiently big reactions. He told the Washington Post in 2019 that he looks to see who "can sustain the excitement," and he also shared: "The worst thing is to underreact to something spectacular, like the chance to win a car."
Audience members can't bribe producers to be chosen as a contestant.
Price Is Right hopefuls might want to rethink trying to win over producers with a gift or snack. "People bring me stuff all the time, but I can’t take anything. Not even a business card," Blits shared in a 2013 interview.
Contestants have to be creative during the application process.
The application form poses questions like: "What is something about yourself that no one would ever know by looking at you?" and "What is the craziest thing you have ever done for money?" We're guessing the more interesting the answers, the better!
It doesn't cost anything to be on the show — but there's a caveat.
Many have wondered how much contestants might pay for the chance to hear "Come on down!" The answer: Nothing. Tickets to the show are free! That being said...
Audience members can't sell their tickets.
When you reserve a free ticket for a taping of the show, there's a disclaimer stating, "Sale of this ticket is prohibited." The good news is: If you can't make it to your original showing, it's easy to reserve tickets for a different date.
Once they've made it inside, audience members have to stay alert.
In a 2022 interview with CinemaBlend, announcer George Gray shared that it can get so loud in the studio, contestants can't always hear if their name is called. Because of this, crew members will hold up a big poster with the person's name on it to avoid any mix-ups.
Contestants have to pay a sales tax on prizes.
Mental Floss interviewed a contestant from a 2013 episode who won a car valued at $19,652 and ended up paying the dealership $2,067 in sales tax.
They also have to declare their winnings as income.
Which, yes, means they must pay income taxes accordingly.
Winners can't announce their victory until the episode airs.
In a Mental Floss interview, 2013 winner Aurora De Lucia said that after she won, she had to sign paperwork stating that if she disclosed the results of the show prior to airtime, she would forfeit any prizes she had won.
And they have to be patient when it comes to prizes.
Nope, they're not actually driving that brand-new car off the lot. In fact, they don't get it until after the episode airs, usually several months after filming. As former executive producer Mike Richards told Buzzfeed in 2013, "We don't want them to give away what happened, because that takes away some of the fun of watching a game show. So we don't want a brand-new car with a Price Is Right license plate frame sitting in the front yard a month before the show airs, because it kind of gives it away."
Winners can't opt to take the cash value of their prize.
In 2013, contestant Aurora De Lucia wrote about her contestant experience in a blog post, saying: "There is no cash value option. They make it super clear in all of the paperwork – you take exactly what you won, or you take nothing."
And they must agree to forfeit prizes if they're found to be eligible.
Remember that long list of eligibility requirements? If it is discovered that a winning contestant wasn't actually eligible — if they're under 18 or work for CBS, for example — they're forced to forfeit any prizes they've won.
Anyone appearing on camera has to follow a dress code.
The notice to potential audience members states: "Colorful, bright, fun colors are encouraged. Please avoid wearing white colored clothing." Wearing any clothing with corporate logos or suggestive phrases is not allowed either.
They have to wear specific shoes too.
And for good reason! "Please wear close-toed, flat shoes: no open-toed shoes or heels are allowed for safety reasons," the notice adds.
Audience members are not allowed to bring smart watches into the studio.
This policy is presumably in place to prevent cheating!
Contestants must know the odds.
For audience members hoping to get on The Price Is Right as a contestant, it's best to keep the odds in mind. Only nine contestants are chosen from an audience of more than 300, and only six of those nine will make it past "Contestant's Row" and get to play.
During "One Bid" rounds, contestants can't guess the same price as another contestant.
For example, if someone guesses that an item costs $600, the next contestant could guess $599 or $601, but not $600.
But if everyone over-bids, they get to try again.
A buzzer sounds and the host asks all four contestants to make another bid that's lower than any of the previous bids.
Game players need to be careful with the Plinko chips.
Richards explained to Buzzfeed that there are only 10 Plinko chips in the world. "They're enormously expensive to make," he said. "They're weighted exactly the same and made exactly the same, so they 'plink.' They came out on a towel, and they're put into little boxes and very protected."
Contestants can't be sneaky while spinning the "Showcase Showdown" wheel.
Each player can take up to two spins of the wheel during this round, but the wheel has to make at least one full rotation — or else the audience might jeer.
And they must spin the wheel downwards.
The wheel physically can be spun both ways, but upward spins won't count.
Contestants have to be in L.A. to play — on the TV show, that is.
For people who can't make it to The Price Is Right tapings, there's another option: The Price Is Right Live!, a touring stage show that brings the same games to cities around the U.S. Contestants get a shot at some major cash and prizes, with official rules suggesting that the total value that can be won during each show is around $40,000.
And they can only designate a "proxy player" for specific reasons.
The The Price Is Right Live! show rules state that if an individual is unable to play due to "physical injury, illness, infirmity or incapacity," they can designate someone to play on their behalf. This seems to be the case for the TV show too: Viewers might have seen this happen during a June 2023 episode, in which a contestant dislocated his shoulder celebrating his victory during one of the games. When it came time to spin the wheel, his wife came up to spin it for him.
Producers must always take the same approach to determine prices.
Wondering how the show decides how much an item costs? For consistency, prices for items have to come from California retailers. "We're not shopping in Alabama for peas one day, then Florida, then Maine, then Nevada," Richards told Buzzfeed.
When it comes to prizes, producers have to be picky.
Because they have to reflect the trends of the moment. "The days of the grandfather clocks are gone, so we're now looking for what people want today and what's exciting, and going to really get viewers at home to want these prizes," co-executive producer Evelyn Warfel told Business Insider in 2018. That must be why the prize department has grown from a team of one to 16, as supervising prize producer Eric Mills shared with Creative Future in 2018.
And they shouldn't only pick tangible items.
"We're also trying to target a younger audience, and they want more 'experiences,' where you're not just getting a home office, but a home office with a photo studio and photo lessons," Mills added. "Or, instead of an ATV, let’s give you an ATV, camping gear, a gift certificate to REI, and a National Parks pass. Let's make it a whole experience." Yes, please, to this!
Contestants should be game to make good TV — but the show can't humiliate them.
Sure, there might be awkward moments, but producers and Carey would "never humiliate a contestant." Former producer Roger Dobkowitz explained that when Carey started in 2007, he sat him down and explained, "We would always appear fair, well meaning, and upstanding to our viewers. Under no circumstances would we would ever do anything that seemed underhanded."
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