Monday, April 15, 2019

Taping #2: Taped 2/8/19, aired 4/15/19.

TAPING REPORT: Show #8721K. Taped 2/6/19. Aired 4/15/19. I was contestant #212.

“In which I get called to COME ON DOWN and play Master Key perfectly!”

(Note: many of the stats below are taken from the excellent website, mostly from the "All Seasons Combined" section of that site.)


I attended a taping two days prior to this. TL;DR version of my experience at that taping: I ended up knowing so many prices exactly correctly using a combination of strategy, math, and a bit of luck, that I got a lot of people’s attention—possibly including the producer’s. If you want more information on that, click here for my report on that show:

Also, you may want to read my “what happens at a 2019 taping” report for more general information:

Now onto today:

I wasn’t even going to attend today’s taping, but I had so much fun at the previous one, I figured why not? Only standby tickets were available; they don’t guarantee admission but the On-camera Audiences website says that as long as you’re there 30 minutes before the time on the ticket, you should get in. Not wanting to take chances, I arrived at 11:30 for a 1 PM taping. After going through the first metal detector, the first page saw my ticket was standby (it said “line voucher” instead of “priority ticket”) and had me sit on the very first bench with the other standbys while people who had priority tickets got to keep walking on by. There were 3 of us waiting to see if we’d get in and I was watching the contestant numbers they were handing out carefully. At about 12:45 PM, they gave out #200 (out of 290) and we were confident in our chances. And just after 1, the three of us were confirmed and were given numbers 210, 211, and 212! Late comers with priority tickets got the later numbers, and they also allowed people from the 9 AM taping back in line.


It’s a different experience being #212 vs. #33 (which was my number last time.) This time, I did a bunch of waiting before the interview instead of after, so I had to be careful to keep my energy up. The interview went something like this:

Stan: “Brian! Welcome back! When was the last time you were here?”

Me: “Two days ago, when Zane won the showcase!”

Stan: “What was your favorite part of that show?”

Me: “Seeing Zane win the showcase. He was standing just a couple people down from me in line and I was really happy when he won.”

Stan: “Remind me again what you do?”

Me: “I teach English as a foreign language in Prague.”

Stan: “That’s right. And what’s your favorite game on the show?”

Me: “Pathfinder. I love the old Trivia Trap sound effect, the randomly bouncing lights…”

Stan: “…and the strategy, right?”

Me: “There’s strategy in those bouncing lights?”

Stan: “Yeah, there’s strategy!”

Me: “I didn’t know! I’m sorry!” *mockingly ducks in shame*

Then he moved on. So what have I learned? Stan remembers me. And he remembers that I was very helpful to the contestants during the show. Shortly after the interview, one of the people in line with me says she’s been to a bunch of tapings and thinks I have a really good chance of being called since Stan asked me what my favorite game was--that's a pattern she's noticed. And after moving through the next metal detector where we had to give up our cell phones, a lot of people around me seemed to think I had a good chance to be called, so they’re asking me to give them a shout out if I spun the wheel. I didn’t want to get too excited, though…


Remember the part where you’re assigned seating? Normally, the head page directs you to a general area where you then talk to another page to get a specific seat. Not this time! The head page saw my contestant number and personally escorted me to my seat—all the way against the left wall about 7-8 rows behind George. You can hardly see anything from there, and more importantly, the contestants can’t see you or realistically even hear you, no matter how loud you are. There were plenty of better seats still available at that point. A couple of minutes later, another solo person is seated next to me. We chat a bit and he’s been to a whole bunch of tapings but has never been called, and it’s clear he’s a big fan of the show too. So now I’m really starting to wonder if they put me there because I was too helpful and they didn’t want me doing that again. I admit I allowed the thought of “maybe they placed me here because it looks good on camera when someone gets called from this area” to creep through my head, but I couldn’t entertain those thoughts for too long, as I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Whether called or not, wherever I was sitting, I was going to have fun.


GAME #1 (IT'S IN THE BAG): From where I was sitting, I could see the stand with the grocery items for It’s in the Bag behind George’s podium, so I knew what was coming. And SHARON! SHARON! SHARON! What a win!! It’s in the Bag hadn’t been taken for the full $16,000 since November 3, 2015. WOW!! Most of the crowd, including me, thought she should stop on the fourth item, since we thought the cider would be more expensive.

(Note: between the time of the taping and the time of airing, someone did win $16,000 in this game. So this was the second time in 3.5 years that the full amount had been won.)

GAME #2 (FLIP FLOP): Edit time here, though not the show’s fault. As soon as the curtain was opened to reveal the prize, a woman in the second row of the audience fainted. Drew just kind of awkwardly stopped what he was doing, they quickly closed the prize curtain, and they got some medics to attend to her. During the stopdown, George was telling us that if you were going to faint, this was the place to do it, as they have amazing medics on standby at all times. He was also saying he had never seen that happen before. I got to chat with George a little bit during this stopdown and told him how much I liked him on The Weakest Link. He explained to people around me how different that was for him. Drew left the stage while this was all happening. Once they took the woman who fainted away on a stretcher, they had Mikelle walk back up the stairs for the edit and then started the game again.

BEFORE ITEM UP FOR BIDS #3: Drew told us he heard the woman was fine. She just fainted from the excitement.

GAME #3 (POCKET CHANGE): Good win by Daniel. During the break, George was complimenting the audience for not telling him to pick the 5—he saw it was a trap as did the audience.

SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN #1: SHARON! Another $1,000! This is her day! Just after the wheel was taken away, I commented to the guy next to me that I wouldn’t want to be the one to face her in the showcase. If someone were to beat her, they probably would be boo’ed off the stage!


JUST BEFORE ITEM UP FOR BIDS #4: The words I’d been waiting all my life to hear…

Wait, what? That’s my name! They’re calling me! I said “NO WAY!!” at the top of my lungs and work my way to the aisle to start coming on down. I don’t believe it!! I don’t know what came over me, but I decided to do a little twerking move once I reached the aisle—probably inspired a bit by the over-the-top come on downs they show you while waiting to get in to the studio and also inspired by Jack Black’s twerk in Weird Al’s “Tacky” music video. And of course, I’m high fiving everyone on the way down to contestants’ row. I’m in contestants’ row! I’m on The Price is Right! Wait, an item is coming out…gotta compose myself…yeah, right…

ITEM UP FOR BIDS #4: Two cameras and an SD card. It’s an awkward view from contestants’ row, as you’re below the stage and it kind of feels like looking up at Andre the Giant. Also, I’m not yet thinking straight, so I’m going totally on feel, no strategy or thought at all. Those cameras felt like they should be between $700 & $800, so I split the difference at $750. Actual retail price: $709, and the $1 bid to my right came through. I still have time.

GAME #4 (DO THE MATH): The whole audience, including me, thought the ATV was more expensive than the kitchen appliances. I don’t think they wanted that game to be won.

BEFORE ITEM UP FOR BIDS #5: The stage manager welcomed me to the team. They had me to go to the back of the audience, near the entrance to the studio, and wired me up with a wireless mic. They use these in case you get on stage and your audio isn’t picked up by Drew’s microphone.

ITEM UP FOR BIDS #5: Scuba gear. I have no idea how to price scuba gear. I turned to the audience and I heard a very distinct “$1800”—that would have been an excellent bid. Even Drew was shocked when the gear went for over $2000.

GAME #5 (PICK A NUMBER): Pretty easy to pick the 8 there, though I was actually leaning toward the 9.

BEFORE ITEM UP FOR BIDS #6: Now I’m worried. I’m down to one item and I’m bidder #2 for it. In fact, I’m thinking about how I’ll have been bidder #1, #2, and #2 for the three items I had a chance at, and thinking if I don’t make it on stage, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself—bidders #1 & 2 have about an 18 and 20% success rate, respectively, of making it on stage, bidder #3 has a 22% success rate, and bidder #4 has a 40% success rate. This makes sense, given the 4th bidder can (and should!) use the 1-up strategy. And no matter what happens, I’m going to get $300 and I can say I’ve been a contestant on The Price is Right.

I then shake the hands of the other two contestants, wish them luck, and start thinking that we haven’t seen a car game in the second half of the show, so one must be coming. C’mon!

ITEM UP FOR BIDS #6: THE HEADPHONES! I’ve seen these! Or ones like them, at least. I helped the contestant win Safe Crackers at the taping two days ago (episode air date 4/8) with headphones just like these! I immediately remembered the price, probably from screaming it at the top of my lungs at the prior taping. $970, Drew! I listen to the other bids and no one’s one-upped me; I’ve got a pretty good amount of wiggle room.

Actual retail price: “One thousand…”

Me (thinking): “C’mon Drew, don’t put a hundreds digit in there…”

Drew: “…fifteen dollars! Brian!”

No way! I actually won and made it up on to stage! Where’s Drew? Ah, over at the turntable. I half-walk, half-run there, shake Drew’s hand and thank him for the great work his crew does. He’s probably way behind time due to the long playings of It’s in the Bag and Pocket Change earlier, so he’s ready to reveal the prizes.

GAME #6 (MASTER KEY): When the first two prizes were revealed, I clapped half-heartedly, partly because I didn’t really care about house cleaning for a year, but mostly because I knew a car was coming. I start thinking about what game I’m going to play—Ten Chances? No, the reveal for that game involves a “splitting floor” that reveals the car. Rat Race? Yes, this must be Rat Race—I’m mentally getting ready to price three items. (Looking back, it couldn’t have been Rat Race, as that game isn’t played on the turntable. That didn’t hit me in the 30 seconds I had to think about it.)

Anyway, Drew must have noticed my not fully enthusiastic reception and said “don’t worry, more is coming.” I responded, “A car should be coming, right? We haven’t seen one in the second half of the show.” Then the car is revealed and I start going nuts. Not because I need a car, but because I’m on the Price is Right playing for a car!! This is literally a dream come true for me. Drew tells me it’s Master Key as the turntable spins around and I tell him I love that game (a true statement.)

First item: a lamp that’s $42 or $27. No way that thing’s over $40, so I guess $27. I briefly ponder the possibility that that's wrong and I'll end up as the contestant who didn't get to pick any keys, but Drew reveals that $27 was correct and I get to pick a key.

Now, which key will I pick? I had a simple rule I had planned out well before I was picked: if I got to play a game, I would not lose because I was a predictable contestant. What are some of the things predictable contestants do? They guess 4s, 5s, and 6s in Lucky Seven; the producers know this and use cars with prices like $21,298. In Pass the Buck, contestants don’t pick #1 or #6 very often; not coincidentally, producers have put the car behind #1 or #6 64% of the time and behind #2, 3, 4, or 5 only 36% of the time. In Master Key, people pick key #1 about 14% of the time and key #5 about 19% of the time, while keys #2, 3, and 4 get picked 34%, 30%, and 29% of the time respectively. (The numbers don’t add up to 100% because it’s possible to pick two keys.) In fact, in general, when there are choices to be made from a line of items or a group of numbers, people tend to prefer middle items to end items for whatever reason. Therefore, keys #1 and 5 were the obvious choices for me. So I start with key #1. (Just to be clear, I hadn't looked up all these numbers beforehand. My intuition told me to go for the end keys. I looked up the numbers afterward and they confirmed my intuition.)

Second item: a toothbrush that’s $64 or $49. My gut immediately screams $64. The $49 looked tempting for a second, so I do a quick sanity glance into the audience and they’re all screaming $64. I go with it, get a second key, and take #5 as per the argument above.

Alright, I’ve got two keys! We head over to the locks and Drew gives me one of the keys. 

Key #1: I try it in the snacks—the key turns nice and smoothly, but nothing happens. Take it out and try it in the house cleaning key—again nothing. Could it be the car key? Or is it the blank? I have no idea, so I try it in the car lock, not able to even look...but in my peripheral vision, I see the red WIN! come up. I won a car on The Price is Right! I won a car on The Price is Right! I’m going nuts and the crowd is going nuts too…

…oh, but wait, I have another key to try! 

Key #2: Drew gives me the key, I try it in the snacks lock, and WIN! That’s when it hits me—it only makes sense for him to give me the keys in this order if the second key is the master key. So to confirm my hunch, I take the key out of the snacks lock and try it in the house cleaning lock, and WIN!

NO WAY! I just played Master Key absolutely perfectly by outsmarting the producers!! I’m totally out of my mind and I take a look at the crowd which is on their feet for me. What a feeling! Drew tells me to go get my car, so I head over to the car. Am I supposed to climb this platform? It’s big! Ah, YOLO. I climb up to Rachel, give her a quick hug, and she tells me how the game is so rarely won the way I won it. And she gives me the “WINNER” license plate to hold up. So I hold it up while jumping for joy not believing what just happened.

The segment ends, they bring out steps so Rachel and I can come down from the platform, and they direct me to the other side of the stage, where Stan is waiting. With a big smile on his face, he shakes my hand and congratulates me. I thank him for picking me, and then I’m directed to stay on the stage as the big wheel is coming up next. The stage manager gets me a towel as I’m sweating like a pig from the running around.

SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN #2: Before the showcase showdown, a stagehand gives us the rules for the wheel—closest to $1 in 1 or 2 spins goes to the showcase, etc. He also tells us that Drew will ask us if we want to give a shout out to anyone, so start thinking about that. But our shout outs cannot include the name of any company or any social media websites or handles on those websites; they’d edit them out if we did that. And finally, he had a sheet of paper with the order we were to spin the wheel in.

As for the spinning, not a whole lot of strategy as the 3rd spinner. The 3rd spinner does have an advantage, but it’s not huge; they go to the showcase about 36% of the time, which is just above the 33.333...% you'd get from just randomly picking a person to go to the showcase. And I ended up going over, with both spins nowhere near a number that would’ve beaten Sabrina’s 85 cents. BTW, there are no practice spins, so you can’t try to “judge” how hard to spin the wheel to get the number you want. And the wheel is heavy! When I go over, Drew reminds me I did pretty well, and I can’t argue.

BRIEF CHAT WITH THE OTHER CONTESTANTS:  After getting off the stage, this was my first chance to chat with the other contestants. We high five each other and I ask them if Stan asked them their favorite game. Most of them said yes, he did. I also asked people if it was their first taping; about half of them said it was and half said it wasn't. I do think Stan is good at remembering people and gets a better feel for them if he has two or three chances to interview them, and he'll especially notice if they make a splash during their first taping and come back.

SHOWCASES: They bring Sharon back for the showcase and I’m reminded of the comment I made to the guy next to me just before I was called to come on down—I wouldn’t want to be the person facing Sharon in the showcase! Well, I got my wish :). Besides, I’d been to Madrid twice in the last three months for visa appointments, I’ve already won a car, and I have no idea what I’d do with a boat, so I really have nothing to complain about. I don’t remember my exact bids for the showcases but I remember they were both over. And when Sabrina bid an amount that was clearly over on her showcase, the crowd realized Sharon was going to win and was very happy.


During the commercial between the showcase bids and the showcase price reveals, a page came over to the contestants and explained what was going to happen next. We weren’t going to have make any major decisions that day—we had 10 days to decide what we wanted to keep if we lived in Southern California, 30 days otherwise. He gave us a chance to tell people we came with they could meet us in a specially marked area after we were done signing paperwork; we could not bring anyone else into the room we were going to fill out the paperwork in.

After the show was done, Drew shook our hands, and we were escorted to the paperwork room. (If you’re outside waiting to get in to the studio, this is the room just to the left of the studio entrance with the double doors.) There was a bottle of water on each chair and a whiteboard with the air date (4/15) and the date we should receive our prizes by (7/15—90 days after the air date). A CBS employee congratulated us and went over some basics:
  • No prizes would ship until the air date of the show. All prizes should be received by 90 days after the show airs; if not we can contact CBS.
  • Prizes shipped could be the exact ones they used on stage! Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get our stuff in original packaging. 
  • They reiterated we had 10 or 30 days from the tape date to tell them about any prizes we didn’t want to keep.
  • We could not tell anyone who wasn’t with us at the taping about our win until the show aired. We couldn’t even tell people we were called to come on down. We could tell people we were at the taping and that we had fun. That was it. If we told anyone more than that, they could refuse to give us our prize. (This is CBS’s way of trying to keep spoilers from getting out.) Of course, that didn’t stop my sister for trying to get this out of me even though I refused to tell her if I was called or not. At one point, she said, “When you got up on stage, did Drew shake your hand?” Ha. Nice try, sis. Though full credit to my brother-in-law for this one. He said, "Brian would tell us if he wasn't called; the only reason he's acting like this is because he was." Of course I didn't confirm it at the time, but he was absolutely right.
  • For anyone that wins over $1500 and doesn’t live in California, they must pay CA taxes by sending CBS a money order or cashier's check for 7% of the prizes' total value before they will release the prizes to you. If you win cash, CBS takes this out of the cash. And we’ll be getting a 1099 at the end of the year so we can pay federal taxes on our winnings.
  • We cannot be a contestant on The Price is Right again for 10 years nor on Let’s Make a Deal for 1 year after the show was taped. We can be in the audience for either show as much as we want, we just have to tell the pages we’ve been a contestant.
Then an employee sat down with each one of us individually to go over our winnings from the show and the paperwork we had to sign. Here are some highlights:
  • I overheard them telling Sabrina that for the trip she won, she must be one of the people who goes—no selling the trip to strangers. 
  • I live in Prague, but they needed a US address to ship my prizes to. I gave them my dad’s address. So my dad will soon be receiving headphones, an iPod Touch, a small lantern, an electric toothbrush, and some Hangry Kits gift certificates.
  • The housecleaning for a year came as $2080 in cash. This covered the 7% tax rule above, and I still had about $300 left. CBS will send me a check for that amount.
  • For the car, a dealership will contact me soon after the show airs. The car I won was optionless, but I can add on options at my own expense. I can arrange to pick up the car at a dealership near me; they don’t have to ship it from Southern California. And I will have to pay state taxes and registration fees out of my own pocket.
Once I signed the paperwork, they gave me a “I won this car on The Price is Right” license plate holder and told me I could leave. Everyone else was long gone by this point. I picked up my cell phone and there were pages directing me to the exit. One of them complimented me for how I reacted on stage on my way out. On my way back to my rental car parked at The Grove, multiple people who were at the taping saw me and congratulated me on my big win. One group of people I had met in line took a photo with me and the cue card with my name on it. Then I let out a big “Woo!” in my car and headed to Din Tai Fung to have a celebratory dinner πŸ˜ƒ.

And that’s it. Since I went by myself, I haven’t been able to share this story with anyone, so I’m excited to finally tell you about my experience. Thanks for reading!


  1. that's awesome Brian!! :) watched the show today. Fun reading your thoughts and story about it.

  2. That's a very interesting inside story on what it's like on TPIR in the Drew era!

  3. Congrats. Ashlee and I both really enjoyed watching and reading about your experience.

  4. This was one of the best things I have ever read on the internet. Congrats, Stose!!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.