In February 2020, Jeddrek Rowden, a junior from Lucas, Kansas, booked a last-minute $85 flight to Los Angeles, California for a three-day getaway and skipped a day of class to attend The Price is Right. Little did he know, announcer George Gray would call his name to play.
I’d always wanted to check off being on a game show from my bucket list, so when I visited LA for the first time and saw I could get free tickets, I knew I had to do it.
When my Uber dropped me off at the CBS Studio, I ran to stand in line, worried I was too late. Luckily, I wasn’t.
Finally, it was my turn to wade inside with the rest of the audience. I felt like I had been standing in the bright, hot sun for hours. Dollops of sweat were dripping down my neck and sliding down my back.
As I approached the name-tag station, I fumbled for my wallet. I watched the worker scribble down my name and I proceeded inside, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with 20 other people about to be interviewed.
My nerves started kicking in full force. I was brainstorming what to say to make myself seem interesting enough to get on stage.
The producer was standing right beside me interviewing a lady who claimed she watched the show every morning.
I suddenly heard him ask her, “What’s your favorite game?” I panicked. I’m unfamiliar with the show.
“Plinko,” she responded.
“Next!” the producer screamed.
The producer turned to me, and I immediately blurted out that I’m from a small town in the middle of Kansas, and it’s my first time in LA. I knew I gained his interest.
“What’s your favorite game?”
My mind raced to come up with an answer. I hesitantly responded, “The one where the little yodeling boy climbs the mountain. He’s Austrian, so he speaks German and I also speak German.”
He responded with a wink and simple “Viel Glück.” That means good luck!
The next few minutes were a whirlwind. My group rushed into the studio, and I was pushed into the very back row. The lights were pulsing ‘70s colors, vibrant blue and orange flower cutouts were everywhere, and the show’s theme music was blaring on repeat.
I calmed down and took it all in. I’d been here before through the screen, and I was overcome with a sense of familiarity.
The calmness quickly rushed out of me, and I could feel both mine and my neighbor’s legs bouncing.
Then, Drew Carey walked out.
The games began and as George read off name after name, my hopes of hearing mine dwindled. There were 300 people there. What were the chances my name would be called?
Then, “it’s gonna be… Jeddrek Rowden! Come on down! You’re the next contestant on The Price is Right!”
Oh my god. My heart was pounding so fast I thought it would burst through my chest. Run, run, run. No! Slow down, let the cameras pan on you for just a few seconds longer. I high fived everyone in sight and Drew Carey wished ME good luck. I felt like I’d just downed seven coffees. It was so hard to concentrate.
I was so caught up in the atmosphere I completely missed what item we were bidding on. I blurted out a price far from correct, knowing people watching from home in a few months would laugh.
Bid after bid I missed. I was running out of time. It was my last chance to get on stage. The next item up was an elliptical workout machine.
My mind went blank. What the hell did I know about ellipticals? I didn’t want to win one, and if I did, would I have to fly home with it? I’d have to tell Drew no thanks.
I gave it my last shot and missed. Just like that, my chances to win a car were over. I returned to my seat.
The rest of the show flew by in what felt like seconds. When it was over, the producer announced to the contestants to report to a separate room and that even if we didn’t win anything on stage, we’d get $300 for participating.
We were quickly briefed about taxes and given a lousy 8-ounce bottle of water. I was parched and downed it immediately. Then, in a rush, they filed us outside into the blinding sunlight. I got into my Uber and caught my flight home.