By Christine Bryant
The price was right for Joel Jenkins.
Those tuning into “The Price is Right” Oct. 8 caught Grove City resident competing on one of America’s favorite game shows – and walking away with nearly $39,000 in prizes.
His good fortune almost didn’t happen, though. It was a little bit of chance, and luck, that landed him on his favorite game show. In Los Angeles to visit his sister, Jenkins had tickets to both “The Price is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.”
“But my Uber driver ran super late on the first day, hindering me to not being able to make it to ‘The Price is Right,’” he said. “It’s my favorite game show, so it was a huge bummer to miss it.”
So Jenkins canceled his “Let’s Make a Deal” tickets for the following day, and attended “The Price is Right” instead. Although the show randomly selects contestants, Jenkins researched how to maximize his chances of getting selected.
“I found out the lead producers do a short couple-minute group interview with about 20 other audience members and I was ecstatic because I knew I could sell myself and make them fall in love with me in that short window of time,” he said. “They ask you about your occupation and then make a joke toward you to gauge your reaction, then move onto the next contestant – 20 seconds max.”
The trick, he said, was to grab their attention, make them laugh and not let them move onto the next person. When his name was called, Jenkins felt excited and relieved.
The next challenge – winning the bidding portion of the game, which he mastered, successfully guessing the closest price on a fireplace. Once on stage, Jenkins played a game called, “Easy as 1, 2, 3,” where a contestant must organize three prizes from the least to most expensive.
“I went on there and organized it in what I thought was the correct order, but as soon as I turned around, the entire audience roared and yelled, ‘switch them,’” he said. “I was skeptical at first, but I thought to myself, ‘what the heck?,’ and proceeded to switch them.”
As it turned out, he was correct the first time.
“I wasn’t all that upset because the real prize to me was just being part of the show,” he said. “I grew up watching the show every day with my mother and always dreamed of this happening.”
His luck soon changed, however. Next up was spinning the famous “The Price is Right” wheel.
“It truly is as heavy as it looks on TV,” Jenkins said. “Not only did the other contestant and I tie once, but twice. We had a double spinoff and I was a roller coaster of emotions throughout all of it.”
After beating his fellow contestant with an 80-cent spin, he headed to the Showcase Showdown.
“During the commercial break, they take 15 minutes moving things around the set for the next scene, and I can’t keep still,” Jenkins recalled. “I’m walking around non-stop, because the excitement is too much to bear.”
He then got a visit from host Drew Carey.
“Drew walks over and we talk for a few minutes and he asks, ‘So how’s it feel?’” Jenkins said. “I kept telling him how crazy this is and that the true prize was just hearing my name called to be on contestants’ row, and now moments later, I’m actually standing at to the podium to bid on the Showcase Showdown.”
After passing on the first showcase that included a speedboat, Jenkins got down to work.
After successfully bidding on the second showcase, he walked away with a 65-inch 3D TV, an NFL-sponsored trip to New Orleans and a 2016 Hyundai Tucson Sport.
“As soon as I won, I had to hold up a promise that I made to my mother as a young boy that if I ever won a car on there, I would run up to one of the models and lay one on ‘em,” he said. “And that’s exactly what I did.”
Though Jenkins was confident he would be called to contestants’ row, he never imagined he would win a Showcase Showdown and credits everyone who helped make his dream come true.
“I would like to thank my lovely sister, Amanda, for sacrificing her morning coffee and driving me to the studio very early in the morning so I could lock down a great spot in line,” he said.