Esquire's Chris Jones has been on a roll, what with the Roger Ebert profile and his new feature in the magazine's July issue. In it he covers the quest of Terry Kniess, a 60-year-old retired weatherman (and amateur card shark) who cracked The Price Is Right in 2008, becoming the first contestant ever to make a perfect final Showcase bid ($23,743). Host Drew Carey thought Kniess was cheating, but it turned he wasn't—Kniess just had one of those brains that can quickly add up the cost of catamarans. That didn't stop Carey from acting stiff when he announced his perfect win, nor did it prevent CBS from burying the show in the December doldrums.
After viewing the show, fans protested that it never would have come to pass under Bob Barker—not Kneiss's win, but Carey's stilted non-reaction. In his defense, Carey tells Jones he was terrified the game was crooked and he'd go to jail. He also claims Kniess had a ringer named Ted in the audience. Jones discover that Ted was in fact a Price is Right junkie who liked to go to tapings and yell out answers simply to be helpful.
Now neither Ted nor Terry wants anything to do with the program. In a passage Jones probably wishes he had back, he describes their disillusionment with the show:
Neither of them watches The Price Is Right anymore. Ted loved what it was too much for him to love what it has become. ... They've built more luck into the games, dumb luck, and they've started doing sneaky things like changing the options on the cars -- adding floor mats, taking away the stereo system -- to mess with the prices. And they've started adding more luxury items, like Burberry coats, the sorts of things for which ordinary people who have lived their ordinary lives would never have clipped a coupon.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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