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Haverford College

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Bob Barker is much taller than you might expect, and looks like nothing so much as a “giant wax statue,” according to Adriane Theis ’06. And she can speak with some authority on the matter—having recently won a Ford Taurus on "The Price is Right" during the Haverford softball team’s spring break trip to Los Angeles.

Theis grew up watching the 32-year-old game show on school vacation days and throughout the summer. “It became a routine—I’d wake up, watch the show, and go out to play,” she says. It was her good fortune that the softball team, in Los Angeles for the Sunwest Tournament hosted by Chapman University, elected to attend a taping of the show during one of their days off. They outfitted themselves in T-shirts made especially for the occasion: a caricature of Bob Barker (drawn by a teammate’s father) framed by the words “Haverford Softball” and “Come on Down!”

The trip to the show was an all-day event. Audience members arrived at the studio at 10 a.m. for a 2:30 taping. Just getting inside the studio was a process in itself, says Theis: “It’s a lot like being in line at an amusement park.” While everyone waits to enter, a show employee distributes name tags—“written very slowly and deliberately, so Bob Barker will be able to read them”—and groups of 12 at a time are brought to a producer, who asks questions and evaluates personalities. Theis remembers telling him where she’s from (Toledo, Ohio) and what she’s studying (political science) but still isn’t sure how she made a strong enough impression to “come on down.”

Nevertheless, it was her name announced at the start of the show as one of the first four contestants—not that she heard it right away. “There’s so much noise, they have to hold up a sign with your name on it,” she says. She was confused at first, because her first name was misspelled on the sign and her last name was mispronounced by the announcer (the “h” is silent), but when she realized that she was the girl in question, her reaction was one of shock and delight. “I kept thinking ‘Holy cow, this is happening!’” Once in contestants’ row, she and her three counterparts were asked to bid on a set of camping gear. On the first try, each contestant overbid; on the second attempt, Theis won with a bid of $800, just one dollar less than the actual price.

On stage, Theis was first shown a recliner as her anticipated prize. “I didn’t realize until I actually saw the show how I excited I got over this recliner!” she laughs. “I was just so happy to be up there.” But she was even happier when the recliner was moved aside to reveal the real, four-wheeled reward. “I kind of freaked out,” she says. “But I still couldn’t hear anything—I had no idea what kind of car it was!”

Her game was “Any Number,” which is usually played for a car or boat, a three digit prize, or a measly sum of money in the “piggy bank.” The contestant gives one number at a time from zero to nine, and the number given is shown in the price of one of the three prizes. The price of the prize that the contestant completes first is the prize he or she wins. Theis was happily familiar with it: “I knew it was winnable.” When guessing numbers, she looked to the audience to get the softball team’s advice. She came dangerously close to completing the price of the “piggy bank” before coming up with the only number left in the price of the car. She responded to her win by, she says, “almost collapsing.”

Still shaking, she was sent to a seat in the front row to wait her turn on the “big wheel,” which, she reports, is heavier than it seems. “I can see why those little old ladies have such a hard time with it!” she says. She did not spin a high enough number to get into the showcase finale. After the show all contestants were brought to a small room near the studio entrance, where they signed multiple forms, including a television waiver and a document prohibiting them from appearing on other game shows for the next two years.

After the show Theis received hugs and congratulations from her teammates and her father, who had accompanied them to L.A. “He just shook his head in disbelief,” she recalls. Theis’ mother responded with much stronger skepticism. “I called her after the show and said, ‘Mom, I won a car!’ And she said ‘No, you didn’t.’” Her father and her teammate both vouched for her, but it took hours for her mother to accept the news as truth.

On April 5, she gathered with the rest of the softball team to watch the show’s broadcast on CBS. “It was so surreal,” she says. “There are so many things I didn’t realize I was doing.” She was particularly surprised by her near-faint immediately following her win: “I thought I’d be more of a jumper.”

She has yet to receive her car—there’s a hold-up at the factory, according to “Bob the Car Guy” out in California—but for Theis, the actual prize pales in comparison to the experience as a whole. “My dad and I were talking before the show, and he said, ‘You know, for some people it’s their life’s dream to be on "The Price is Right,"’” she says. “I said, ‘Dad, it’s my life’s dream!’”


The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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