‘The Price Is Right’: Where Do The Prices Come From?

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

Obviously, guessing the correct price on The Price Is Right is key to winning it all on the popular day-time game show.

But who determines the prices? Well, it’s all about where The Price is Right is produced. And that’s in California. So before you “Come on Down,” study up on the prices at California stories like Ralph’s or Trader Joe’s.

Bob Barker hosted the Price is Right from 1972 to 2007. He once told the Los Angeles Times that prices make the show relatable for everyone. He said:

“The reason it was so popular originally and why it is still popular is because of the powerful basic premise of the show—everything is based on prices. Everyone identifies with prices. The minute we put something up for bid and the contestant makes a bid, the viewer is involved. Once you become involved, we have accomplished what the producer of every game show wants: viewer involvement. The Price is Right has that to the nth degree.”

Barker had a point. The show is one of the longest-running television series in history. It’s only other host is Drew Carey, who replaced Barker.

If You Win On ‘Price Is Right,’ You Also Pay California Income Tax

And here’s another factoid most folks don’t know. If you win, you pay lots of taxes. And the taxes are from the state of California. The show will let you know an exact accounting before the show airs. If you win a car, you might need to send a check before you get the vehicle.

Debra Field, a Price is Right contestant who won a car, described the process to App.com. She said:

“After the show is over and you see your prizes, you fill out a form. And it explains exactly what you won and that you have to pay California income tax on your prizes. You see the form, you sign it. And they say, approximately one week before the show airs, you’ll receive a letter from accounting. You’ll see the amount that you owe. And then after the show airs, you can send in your certified check. And then after that, they will contact a local car dealership.”

There are dozens of pricing games on The Price Is Right. We all know about the Showcase Showdowns. We know that contestants first must hear their names. Then they have to win the first pricing game for an invite to play on stage.

Students Figure Out the Price

But did you know that there are ways to study the games to have a better chance of winning? It’s true. Some students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute wrote a paper on how to win as part of their Bachelor of Science degree.

Here’s how they introduced their study:

“The purpose of this MQP is to analyze all the games on The Price is Right and find strategies to improve the constant’s probability of winning assuming they have no pricing knowledge. Using analytics and simulations, every game was analyzed and put in categories of low, medium, or high strategy.”

“The project includes a catalog of all the current Price is Right games, including a description of the game; the strategy that should be implemented to improve the contestant’s odds; and the probability of winning with and without strategy.”

So, the Price is Right looks so easy from home. But there’s some real homework to it before you Come On Down.