C’mon down!!! College student big winner on ‘Price is Right’
It was 5 a.m. on Sept. 16 when Tahoe-Truckee graduates Travis Ritchie, Tyler Zarubin and Dustin DeMont made it to the gates of the “Price Is Right” set. They had no tickets, but were hopeful they could possibly get some before the show’s afternoon taping.
They sat in the dark and waited.
As the line grew around them, a group of people which had tickets for both the morning and afternoon tapings decided to give three afternoon tickets to the college-bound freshmen, who had hoped for the opportunity to see the show on the way to their first days at the University of California, San Diego.
Once the audience participants for the morning taping went into the studio, the three stood at the front of the line for the afternoon show.
“We always used to watch the Price Is Right,” Ritchie said. “This was finally our chance to get to be at least in the audience. I never thought I would actually get to play.”
Play he did. He played so well that he walked from the show with more than $27,000 in prizes.
Ritchie and the others went through the paces – getting their name tags and giving the show’s producers a 15-second autobiography. They sat in the front row and waited for the show to begin.
The second name called for the first show was Ritchie’s.
Outbidding the other contestants in the first round of play, he won a Whirlpool laundry system. He moved on to the game and won an aroma spa, an air conditioner, a standing safe and a Sealy sofa. In the final spin for his round, he spun an 85, just ahead of the other two contestants who spun 65 and 75, respectively.
He qualified for the final Showcase Showdown, which meant he had to sit and wait for the second game to be played.
The second game yielded a student from U.C. Irvine. In a battle of school titles, Ritchie prepared to bid on the prize combination of a dining room set, a set of dishes, a punch bowl and a ski boat.
The Irvine student bid $27,000 and Ritchie bid $30,000.
Ritchie said he heard Zarubin and DeMont yelling that the bid was too high, so he asked Bob Barker if he could change his bid. Barker agreed, and Ritchie changed his bid to $20,000.
The “actual retail price” was $23,600, which put Ritchie in the winner’s circle.
“On a scale from one to 10, I would have to say the day was a nine,” he said. “It was a great way to start my college career.”
After the show, the three piled into the boat, which is the one prize Ritchie wants to keep.
“The prize values are taxed as earned income,” he said. “I’m not sure I can pay the taxes without selling some of the prizes to pay the taxes. Actually, I know I have to sell some of the stuff. Hopefully, what I make on the sales will cover the boat’s tax.”
Meeting Bob Barker left a lasting impression on Ritchie.
“Bob was really cool,” he said. “He talked with everyone during the commercial breaks. He was nice.”
And the “Barker Beauties” weren’t too bad either, according to Ritchie, who had an opportunity to meet the beautiful assistants while on stage.
Ritchie is a 1998 graduate of Tahoe-Truckee High School and will major in biochemistry at UCSD. He is the son of Susan and Jim Ritchie of Truckee.
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