Price Is Right Perfect Bid - How Terry Kniess Beat The Price Is Right - Esquire
Terry Kniess studied prices. He saw that virtually every prize on The Price Is Right, from a pack of gum to the flashiest car, repeated. He and Linda memorized their values the way Terry had learned to count cards. When they felt they were ready, they made their way to California. They got up in the early morning hours of September 22, 2008, and waited in the dark outside the metal gates at Television City. There were only three people in line in front of them: an older couple named Norbert and Frances and a middle-aged man from Texas named Ted. At exactly six o'clock in the morning, the gates swung open, and Terry and Linda walked across the parking lot, dizzy with the numbers flashing in their heads. On the best game shows, the contestants go on a journey, climbing toward an almost mystical apex. The Price Is Right ends with the Showcase, the final showdown between the two players who have traveled from the audience to Contestant's Row, up onstage, through a pricing game, and past the Big Wheel. Two collections of prizes are presented to them, and the contestants each bid on one — the closest without going over wins. And if one of them comes within $250, that contestant wins both. Now, against all odds, Terry suddenly found himself standing beside an excitable woman named Sharon. It was down to them. The first Showcase opened with a karaoke machine. Next came a pool table. Then a seventeen-foot camper. Sharon passed on that Showcase, which meant that it was Terry's to win or lose. He looked into the audience for a moment, leaned into his microphone, and said his bid as though he were reading it from a slip of paper: $23,743. "Wow," Drew Carey said. "That's a very exact bid." Then Sharon saw her Showcase: trips to Chicago; Banff, Alberta; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Cape Town, South Africa. She bid $30,525. "We'll be right back, folks," Carey said. "Don't go away." And then the show just stopped. Even before the Showcase, there had been a feeling among some of the show's staff that something was amiss. The Price Is Right pays out of pocket for most of the prizes that it gives away, and the prize budget is fixed. If it's been giving away too many cars especially, it'll pull out some of the harder pricing games, Range Game or That's Too Much, to balance the books. They're not rigged, but they rely on the natural tendency of most contestants to guess somewhere in the middle. In the first instance, contestants almost always stop the game too early; in the second, they almost always stop it too late. The further the producers push the prices toward the extremes of possibility, the less likely someone will win. On that morning, however — no matter the game, prize, or price — everybody was winning. The show was getting rolled. . . .