Jon Green has a game show obsession.
He watches the Game Show Network. An appearance on “Jeopardy!” isn’t out of the question. And, at age 21, Green already has won $16,000 on the “Price Is Right.”
“I’ve been a fan of the show since I was five,” said Green, who will make his television debut Oct. 29. “It’s one of those shows you watched when you were sick at home from elementary school.”
When he and his friends decided to make the hour-and-a-half drive from their homes in Dana Point, Calif., to the CBS “Price Is Right” studio, Green was determined to be more than a passive audience member. He wanted to be on TV, he said.
On the “Price Is Right,” the camera focuses on groups of people like marines in their uniforms or fraternity brothers wearing their letters. So, Green came up with a plan – they would wear GW baseball uniforms. The morning of the show, Green’s crew was on the road on Aug. 2 at 4:30 a.m. – the three girls donning “We love Bob” T-shirts and the 10 guys wearing GW baseball shirts.
“After you’ve been a member of the team for four years, you have approximately 25 GW baseball T-shirts,” Green said. “Three of the guys played college ball. One guy hasn’t touched a bat since he was 12.”
But as far as the “Price Is Right” knew, they were the GW Baseball team.
There was already a long line of dedicated “Price Is Right” fans when they arrived at the studio around 6 a.m. Some people were practicing for the show.
“There were some real wackos in line,” Green said. “There were people in line with catalogues asking each other `how much does this chair cost?'”
When they finally entered the building, everyone wrote their entire name – no nicknames – on the official “Price Is Right” name tag. Then, the interview process began. Each member of the audience had a five-second interview with the producers so they can decide who they want as contestants.
“`The Price Is Right’ is like a Jerry Springer game show,” Green said. “You realize that the people who watch this show are kind of obsessed. You know they aren’t going to call those people up because they might attack Bob Barker or something.”
Nine hours after they left their homes, Green and his friends sat down in the small “Price Is Right” studio. With the bright-orange decor and Barker’s beauties, little has changed since the show began in the 1970s.
In the first set of four, no one from Green’s group was called, but they managed to get on camera. Everyone in Green’s group was bursting with excitement, screaming and flailing their hands at the cameraman. Then Green was called.
“My brother jumped on top of me, my buddies are punching me in the stomach,” he said. “I can’t even get out of the row. Then you realize you have to throw everyone high-fives as you run down the aisle.”
In “contestants’ row,” participants need to bid the closest to the retail price of a prize without going over the price. Green had to bid on a wooden chest. He came within $7 of the actual price.
“First of all, I can’t even believe I’ve been called down,” he said. “I’ve got my hands on my head because I can’t believe it. Then I win the prize, and I’m on stage right away. Then the curtain goes up and Rod Roddy (the announcer) says `You have the chance to win $16,000.’ That’s when my breathing stopped.”
In the game, Green had to match five grocery items to their corresponding prices. For the first item he got right, he won $1,000. With each product he matched correctly, he doubled his money, but he could choose to stop and take the money at any time. Green didn’t stop. He didn’t need to.
“I was thinking maybe today is my day,” he said. “Maybe all my biorhythms are right, and the stars are aligned.”
After he won, Green jumped in the air, took a lap around the stage and ended his victory dance by going down on one knee and doing a few arm pumps. Then he was escorted off stage to fill out paperwork. He couldn’t concentrate and messed up the forms three times. But it wasn’t over yet. He still had to spin the Big Wheel for his chance to get into the Showcase Showdown. He tied the woman in front of him at 90 cents (the goal is to get $1) and forced a spin-off, but he didn’t make it to the Showdown. He didn’t care. He still had 16-grand in his pocket.
“My dad didn’t believe me at first,” Green said. “Once he saw the paperwork, he didn’t stop cursing for the next hour. My mom honestly cried for five minutes because she was so happy for me. She probably said the words `you’re so lucky’ 500 times because she knows how big my college loans are.”
With the money, Green plans to pay off his credit card bills, some of his college loans and everyone he owes money. If there’s enough money, he might buy a trip or a car. But he definitely will treat the pseudo-GW baseball team to a nice dinner.
“I really scammed (the `Price Is Right’),” Green said. “Actually, I’m just a little more creative than other people.”
Green will make his nationwide television debut Oct. 29. According to his calculations, his appearance lasts about two minutes, so he has 13 minutes of fame left in the 15 allotted to him in life.
“I’ve told everyone I know, and they’ve all told people,” Green said. “I’m hoping for the highest ratings ever for a `Price Is Right’ show.”