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Perfectly Awkward
December 22

On December 16, 2008, Terry Kniess was presented a showcase of a trailer, karaoke system and billiard table on The Price is Right. He bid $23,743, and was exactly right. It was a feat that had happened only once before, and back then on a showcase that was worth only $2,200. A historic moment, to be sure, but the event is tempered by a couple of issues.

First is the fact that one audience member called out the exact total while Terry looked into the crowd for help. I don't know if Terry had previously met with the audience member, but it seems hard to believe that a bid as specific as $23,743 could happen by chance. Most bids end in -00, -000, or something "even". It is rare that a bid would be as precise would be likely to come about randomly.

I'll point out at this point that the audience member in question has attempted to memorize all of the prizes that are offered on the program. He also posted about his "assistance" on a TPIR specific message board. If our anonymous tipster had just kept quiet, it's possible that no one would be the wiser. But he didn't.

So let's deal with this question: was there any cheating or rule-breaking? No. The on-stage contestants are allowed to solicit help from the crowd in any way they choose. I'm sure that the production team hadn't figured that someone would go to the trouble to memorize the answer book, but here we are. It's happened. We've crossed the Rubicon, and given the speed with which a person can research things online, we're not likely to go back.

I do think that the rules need to be looked at. And here's where things get dicey. When you've built up your show on 35 years of a carnival atmosphere where everyone gets to have their say at the top of their lungs, you can't really tell them to keep quiet. You couldn't do that any more than saying that the Big Wheel or Plinko were going out to the wood chipper. You could dim the lights, making it less likely to pinpoint who said what. You still have all the shouting, but you lose that effect of one person ruining the game. A more expensive and quieter solution would be to allow everyone to enter their guess on a keypad and display the results on a screen for the showcase players. I know, it's a pipe dream, but a guy can dream.

So now we move to host Drew Carey. Those in-the-know realize that there was a 45-minute pause between the bids and the reveal as seen on television. We also know that the pause was due to the producers figuring out what to do. But after that, what should have been presented as an awesome feat was presented by Drew as nothing special. I wasn't a fan of Bob Barker for roughly the last five years of his career, but the excitement in Bob's voice when a Double Showcase Win happened was incredible. It is inexcusable to have Drew reveal the price as if he's reciting a grocery list, even if he's tired, cranky or irritable. As much as "game show host" isn't a character, he still puts on a show, and cannot let anything get in the way of his performance.

All in all, it's sorta too bad that the "big event" is clouded by questions of collusion, whether they're justified or not. If nothing else, this will give the show impetus to address the questions about how to deal with this sort of issue in the future.

Come on down and send your replies, questions or comments to Travis Eberle at