Silent, gorgeous women stare at you while they model the latest Stairmaster with perfectly coifed blonde hair. Two hundred people screaming, yelling at you to “go higher” or “stay, stay, stay.” And don’t forget the 100 high definition cameras zoomed in on the beads of sweat that stuck to your brow.
Now answer: What is the actual retail price of Baccarat crystal stemware? Dulcolax stool softener. Is it $18.66? Or $15.99?
Rarely have household cleaners and sectional couches induced vertigo in college students, but for freshman Matt Mucci, who recently appeared on the CBS game show “The Price is Right,” fast-paced price estimation wasn’t just a life skill, it was the name of the game.
Bob Barker’s famous line (now spoken by host Drew Carey, who replaced the microphone-wielding icon in 2007), rang throughout the studio: “Matt Mucci, come on down. You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right.”
Except, in the rush of it all—the screaming fans, Carey’s black-rimmed glasses gleaming with star power—Mucci didn’t even hear his name being called.
“When you’re in there, you actually can’t hear a thing,” Mucci said. “It’s so loud.”
Mucci had to rely on the cue cards held by associate producers on either side of the stage.
“These cue cards drop and you see your name and you’re like ‘I just have to go nuts,’ Mucci said. “I dove into the audience, started rubbing some bald guy’s head, took a victory lap, went up, hugged Drew Carey—I definitely lived out my ten seconds of fame,” Mucci said.
Perhaps if Mucci had gone with a herd of college students or family members, he would have had someone beside him to tell him to head to the golden stage.
But Mucci wandered solo to Studio 33 where the show was taped while he visited his cousin in Los Angeles over Christmas break.
“My cousin lives five minutes away from the CBS Studio. I thought ‘the Price is Right is right here, why not go?’”
His cousin couldn’t go with him, however, because he had appeared on the show the previous year. According to Mucci, once you’ve been on the show, you’re not allowed back for 10 years.
The first day Mucci sought the daytime TV limelight, everyone else had the same idea.
“The first day I actually didn’t get in, it was full,” Mucci said. “They tape the show twice a day, and both times I got left out.”
The next day Mucci went back determined.
“I woke up at like 5:30 in the morning, went and stood out there, got my ticket, went back—slept a little more—went back to the studio and went through the process.”
Mucci said he was about the 50th person in line. The first person in line had been camped out in front of the doors since 10 p.m. the previous night.
Before the whirlwind of Plinko chips and Showcase Showdowns, he and the two hundred or so other potential contestants met with the producer of the show, who asked him quick questions about who he was, where he was from and what he did.
“During my interview I had to stand out so I just did whatever I could do,” Mucci said.”I stood up on the table started getting the crowd going—just to make sure I stood out in his [the producer’s] mind.”
Mucci admits he wasn’t above playing time-old tricks during the pricing games to get on stage, including bidding a dollar more than the previous bidder, to get closer to the actual retail price of the prize. But the competition on contestant row was all in the name of fun.
“We reconciled,” Mucci said. “I gave the lady a hug afterwards.”
While many audience members flaunt their homemade, iron-on “Bob Barker is My Granddad” or “Kiss me Drew” T-shirts, Mucci kept it simple, showing his Gator pride with an Allegheny College shirt.
Mucci is contractually bound not to disclose the details of the game he played and the prizes he won, but he did verify that he has received letters from CBS and prize companies.
It’s not all fun and games, however, and getting the price right can actually be pretty pricy. According to Mucci, winning taxes can equal up to 40 percent of the value of the original prize. Mucci describes the process for claiming prizes as “lengthy” and “sketchy.”
“As soon as the cameras turn off and Drew Carey goes back stage, they lead you immediately down this really dark hall and there’s some lady sitting at a desk with just stacks of paperwork,” Mucci said. “You just have to start signing stuff. You really don’t know what’s going on. You’re still sort of on that high.”
“You add in all the other government taxes, you could still end up paying $12,000 for a $24,000 car,” Mucci said.
The rush of emotions (and flood of paperwork), Mucci notes, was all worth it.
“You were on such a high for those sixty minutes. By the time you realized what happened, it was over.”
Tune in to CBS on Feb 24 from 10 a.m. to noon to see Mucci’s taping of the show.