It was 26 years in the making, but one fateful late-summer day in 2006 I finally met my cousin, Bob Barker
The journey began when my two friends, Chad and Tad, who are twins and from my same hometown of Weiser, Idaho came up with the idea of going to Southern California to visit friends and go on the Price is Right.
I ordered some show tickets online months in advance and a few weeks before our trip they arrived in the mail. With tickets in hand we traveled down to Huntington Beach, California where we stayed with some friends. I had been to the Price is Right once before and knew the drill: We had to be there extremely early in the morning to ensure that we got a seat in the audience.
With that knowledge, I decided not to go to bed that night because we were going to leave our friend’s house at 3am to travel up to the Hollywood studio (it was about an hour drive). I woke my friends up at 3am and we headed north to the CBS Studios lot and arrived at 4am.
We took our place in line and waited. At around 11am, they starting taking groups of 12 and lining them up away from everyone along the back redbrick wall of the studio. At that point a show producer starting doing a quick 15 second interview with each person, while another producer sat in a chair behind him and observed each interaction. It was this person sitting in the chair who ultimately decided who would be called up on the show.
During our interviews we decided to try to stand out and be unique, so we mentioned how the three of us had all grown up in Weiser, Idaho, had been friends since we were little, and had driven our tractors this morning to get to the show. The guy thought it was funny and we hoped it would be enough to stand out.
Eventually, we all entered the studio and the show began. They have a guy and his main job is to rile up the crowd to make as much noise and excitement as possible. He really got us all going and by the end of the show I was exhausted from yelling, clapping, jumping up and down. Having not slept the night before didn’t help either.
None of us got called down to be a contestant, but as we were about to leave the studio a producer told everyone that they didn’t have enough audience members for the next taping and anyone that wanted to participate should go outside and get back in line for the next show.
One little secret is that they tape two shows on Mondays to avoid taping on Fridays, which I knew and is why we chose that day to go. It ended up being a most fortuitous decision…
We got in line for the 2nd show and went through the interview process again. This time we knew what to do, not to mention that I found a second wind as we were all riled up from being on the previous show. I began to plot what I’d say as they interviewed me this time and the thought hit me, my last name is Barker, I’ve got to use that to my advantage!
When the producer came to us he immediately recognized the three of us, mentioning that we were the guys from Weiser that drove our tractors there. This was right before Bob Barker retired from the show, so he only had a few episodes left and they were currently looking for a replacement for him to host the show.
When it was my turn, I immediately mentioned that my last name is Barker and that I planned to keep the show in the family by taking over for Bob as the host once he retired. He thought that was pretty funny and I noticed the producer sitting in the chair jotting something down. Was this enough to get my name called?
We entered the studio and the show began.
We were about 15 minutes into the show when everything changed. Bob asked the announcer who would be next and believe it or not, the announcer said those fateful words everyone in the audience yearns to hear, “Bob, our next contestant is going to be Shane Barker! Come on down! You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right.”
I jumped up, high fived my friends, and jogged down to the front.
Bob leaned down, extended his hand, and said, “Cousin Shane, it’s great to see you again!” I had finally met my cousin, Bob.
I bid on a few items without success, but on the 3rd chance they brought out a TV, DVD player, and year subscription to Netflix Electronics, right up my alley. I bid the closest and won! I again high fived a few folks, jogged up on stage, then shook Cousin Bob’s hand. He had a very nice orange glow about him that I’ll never forget.
He then said that very famous,”Wait until you see this!” I thought it was going to be a new car, but it was a barrel sauna. While doing a little research on the Price is Right I found a site that listed out the worst prizes you can win on the show and barrel sauna was #1, ha ha!
The game was a simple 50/50 game to guess the price of the sauna. I guessed correctly with a price of $5,245 and won the game.
I then was called up to spin the big wheel. I’ve seen people spin that wheel and barely get it around, so I decided I was going to give it the old heave ho and really let it fly I think it spun around for 5 minutes, making Bob pretty upset and impatient.
I got 40 cents on my first spin, so I spun again. Again, I gave it a mighty throw and 5 minutes later it came to a stop on 50 cents for a total of 90 cents, not bad. I won the spin off and advanced to the Show Case Show Down!
For the Show Case Show Down, Sharon had won a larger prize earlier so she got to go first and decide if she wanted to keep the show case or pass. The first Show Case was three trips: 7 days in London, 7 days in Australia, and a 10 day African safari. She passed it to me, and honestly, I was in such a daze at that point, having not slept and extremely exhausted, I found it hard to concentrate, so I didn’t pay close attention to the details of the prizes.
So, I quickly calculated an estimate and based it off a trip for one person, instead of two, as they clearly stated for the prize. “Hmmm, $4,000 a person?” was my thought, so I multiplied by three and blurted out: $12,000!
The crowd then booed me, as they knew I had grossly underestimated the value.
They went back to my opponent for the second showcase which was furniture and two motorcycles. She estimated $25,500, which I thought was pretty good.
Bob then came to me first and said “Shane you bid $12,000. The actual retail price of your showcase is…$26,359 for a difference of $14,359.” I thought I was toast at that point.
Then he moved to Sharon. “Sharon, you bid $25,500. The actual retail price of your showcase is…$22,535, you’re over. You, Shane, are the winner!”
Bob had his Barker Beauties escort me down to center stage at which time they also had my two friends come on stage to join me. As my friend Chad got to where we were he gave one of the Beauties a hug where she promptly pushed him away and moved over to the other side. Bob came over and shook our hands, congratulating me on the victory as we reveled in the moment, waved, and blew kisses to the crowd.
I will never forget the first time I met my cousin, Bob. It was a once in a lifetime experience that will be carried down in Barker lore for generations to come.
*Please Note- I am not related to Bob and the quality of the pictures are low as they are screen shots of the taping.