"Come on down, you're the next contestant on The Price Is Right!"
If you were a child of the '80s or '90s, you likely dreamed of hearing those words in person as you placed your bid right along with the overexcited participants in Contestants' Row. Because in a time before DVR—when the idea of watching television on the Internet seemed like some futuristic flying car s--t—tuning in live to the CBS stalwart that saw participants play what are essentially carnival games in the hopes of walking away with a pool table and, ideally, a new car! was the highlight of many a snow day or lazy summer morning.
Just ask future Emmy-winning Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, who lost his mind over the prospect of meeting then-host, the legendary Bob Barker, during a 2000 appearance. A freshly minted L.A. transplant eager to try his hand at acting, the Idaho native screamed, "You're the man, Bob! You're my idol," before successfully placing the closest bid (without going over) on a flattop desk.
He'd make it all the way to the Showcase Showdown before high-balling a $26,368 prize package that, yes, included a sports car, by just $132.
Some 13 years later, it still stung, Paul lamenting to Jay Leno during an appearance on The Tonight Show, "You have no idea; I was depressed for many, many months."
But that's just the way the Plinkko chips fall on America's longest-running game show, its history stretching all the way back to 1956 when NBC aired a version with just four bidders vying for items that let viewers mail in their best guesses on the retail price via postcard in the hopes of winning big.
The more modern version premiered on CBS exactly 48 years ago with Barker, announcer Roooooood Roddy and all the Clock Game, Lucky Seven and Cliff Hangers contests we've come to know and love. And though Barker stepped down in 2007, handing over his skinny microphone to comedian Drew Carey, the wheel has kept on spinning. (Save for the current shutdown in production, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.)
So let's celebrate the timeless classic that's given us a use for our grocery shopping skills. Read on to discover everything you've ever wanted to know from how they determine those actual retail prices to where they stash all those new cars. And don't forget to help control the pet population by having your pet spayed or neutered.