She didn’t play Plinko or win a Catamaran, but telegenic San Francisco resident (and Googler) Brette Humphrey tore it up on Contestants’ Row and at the Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right today.
Humphrey, along with her mother, her sister, and her sister-in-law, got in line at 6:45 a.m. the day of the taping to guarantee that they’d get seated during the day’s first taping. Because the family name is Henderson, she’d made sweatshirts emblazoned with “Carey and the Hendersons” in a reference to the underrated 1980s comedy about a lovable Sasquatch. On them, host Drew Carey is holding a picture frame of the four women, which Humphrey calls a “statement piece.”
For her, The Price is Right is a family affair, through and through. Years ago, Humphrey’s sister was on the show, winning tons of prizes.
“She was 20 years old and I was a year shy of 18, so I wasn’t able to go with that group,” Humphrey said. “I remember being super jealous at that time. She won a motor home, a king bed set, pots and pans, and an electric guitar. There’s definitely some historical luck in my family.”
She sold the motor home and used the cash to fund her first year’s rent in San Francisco. (For whatever it’s worth, your devoted arts editor moved to San Francisco in 2008, living off money from an appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.)
When we spoke last week, Humphrey wasn’t able to divulge what she’d won or even comment on whether the wheel that you spin to get to the Showcase Showdown was heavy or in need of axle grease. (For fear of blabbing, she’d kept mum to such an extent that no one else in the family even knew she was a contestant. Or at least they didn’t until today.)
“My husband doesn’t know, my dad doesn’t own, my brother doesn’t know — nobody who wasn’t actually in the audience,” Humphrey said. “I don’t want anybody to see any glimpse of anything.”
There were indications that the gods were smiling on her that day.That most of the audience consists of retirees and it’s not a time of the year when many college students were in attendance gave her a boost, demographically speaking. A brief, one-on-one interview with a “guy that’s been part of The Price Is Right for like 30 years” resulted in a hand motion that seemed promising, flagging her as a likely contestant. The production team placed Humphrey and her family prominently — almost right behind Contestants Row. And because it’s so loud in the studio that people don’t always hear their names called, someone holds up a sign — and Humphrey spotted a quick glimpse of part of her name, so she had a second to get prepared.
“I had this fluttery moment of total shock,” she said. “My sister, when she was on it 11 years ago, she was the very first person up on stage. We make fun of her for how she reacted in the moment. I felt that similar feeling.”
And now we know! Chosen among the first group of four contestants, Humphrey correctly bid on a car satellite-radio package in the sixth and final go, promptly hugging Carey as soon as she leapt on stage. Playing “Pass the Buck” — and soliciting a fair amount of audience participation to help her correctly price some Snackwell’s cookies — she won a $21,000 Chevy SUV. To get to the Showcase Showdown, her two competitors both exceeded $1 on their combined two spins, but Humphrey landed on $1.00 even and got a bonus spin.
She declined to bid on the first Showcase (a trip to Argentina and a Fiat 500 hatchback) because her competitor had said his wife needed a car. Showcase No. 2 consisted of a trip from L.A. to Jamaica, $4,500 in cash, and a Kia hatchback) and she won, for a total of $52,651. Watch the entire episode here.
For his part, Carey is an amiable fellow.
“He chatted everybody up during the commercial breaks,” she said, “asking people what they did, and encouraging them to share about their businesses and helping people out. It was a fun, interactive setting the entire time.”
Because I knew that she was a contestant at all, or we wouldn’t even be speaking, Humphrey was able to answer one question about the experience: How do you avoid murdering another contestant who overbids you by a single dollar, destroying your chances of playing a game?
“That happened to me, the $1 overbid,” she said. She also did it to someone else. “And you know you’re on camera, so you don’t want to look too upset. I talked to my mom about that afterwards, because she was more frustrated than I was. In my mind, well, I was like ‘I would do that, too.’ I’m not mad, because when you look at the statistics behind it, it is one of the best plays to go with when it’s a logical guess. But I think in general. it’s all in good fun. The contestants are all very nice to each other. There’s a lot of chatting in between. They’re excited for whoever does get up there.”
In other words, The Price Is Right is as fun as it was on my last sick day in high school.
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