April 27, 2008
By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)
Hollywood, Ca. - Mallory Montague started her day at 4 a.m. in a cold, dark parking lot in Hollywood hoping to be a part of the studio audience on the longest running game show in television history - The Price Is Right.
Little did Montague know at the time that the junior at Cal State Northridge and a student intern in the athletic marketing/promotions department would end up as a contestant and win nearly $31,000 in prizes on the longest continuously running game show in North American television history.
The Price Is Right is not just any game show ... it is THE game show. TV Guide named The Price Is Right the "greatest game show of all time." The one-hour show is in his 36th season on American television and is well known for its signature line of "Come on Down!" which the announcer implores new contestants to do when their names are called. To her surprise, Montague's name was called, and wearing a "Red Rally" t-shirt, and proudly telling host Drew Carey that she was from Cal State Northridge, Mallory was now a part of a television game show that has aired more than 6,800 times since 1956.
Even though The Price Is Right has spanned several generations, it is still a popular show among today's youth.
"Everybody wants to be on The Price Is Right, even amongst young people," says Montague. "It's the thing to do. It's always been a dream to be on the show."
Montague signed up for show tickets online through CBS.com. Montague and a friend each asked for four tickets. They received an e-mail from the show saying they would receive the tickets but that they would have to arrive in the morning to guarantee seats in the 350-person studio. Montague and her friends left Northridge at 3:30 a.m. and arrived at the CBS studios in Hollywood at 4 a.m. to stand in line. When Montague and her friends arrived, 25 to 30 people were already in line.
The show didn't start taping until 2 p.m. That made for a very long day.
"While we were waiting in line to get into the studios, there were producers who told us about the history of the show ... `Elvis (Presley) performed on this stage, as well as the taping of the old Sonny and Cher show.' The producers wanted to build up the excitement of being there."
The show was taped on March 31 (a school holiday, Cesar Chavez Day), and finally aired on national television last Friday, April 25.
While a group of 350 people were waiting for the opportunity to be a part of the audience, various producers monitored the crowd for potential contestants who were plucked out of the audience as contestants during the one-hour taping.
"The friends that I was with were all deaf studies major, and we were all communicating in sign language to a friend who was deaf. I think the producers paid a little more attention to our group because of that."
Once inside and seated during the early afternoon, the taping of The Price Is Right got underway, and four contestants were immediately selected to "Come on Down." To her surprise, the announcer shouted "Mallory Montague, Come on Down."
"I was very surprised," said Montague, who jokingly said she could have pleaded insanity upon hearing her name. "I just went nuts. I turned to my friends and told them, `what am I doing up here.'"
Montague jumped from her seat, raced to the contestants area and hugged another contestant. "I just lost my mind. It was such a rush. Just to be in the studio audience was such a great experience, and now I'm a contestant ... "
Luck was not on Montague's side during several items that she bid on which included a home theatre sound system, a woven rug, a washer/dryer, and a VCR.
However, Montague struck gold later in the show when she correctly bid on a DVD player which allowed her to go up on stage with host Drew Carey, and bid on several prize packages.
"I couldn't believe it," remembered Montague. "I'm standing on a television stage with Drew Carey."
Montague, who was trying to maintain her composure before millions of people watching on national television, then had the opportunity to win a Chrysler PT Cruiser if she could correctly guess the value of the car.
While the announcer was describing the car, Montague looked back towards her friends in the studio audience, but her view was blocked by several television cameras.
Montague then turned towards Drew Carey, and simply said "Drew, I really need your help. I really have to go to the bathroom. Drew simply said - it's going to be ok, but we can't stop the show."
Montague's luck temporarily ran out. She did not accurately predict the price of the car in a game called "Cover Up."
However, all was not lost.
Near the end of the show, the winning contestants (including Montague) returned for the final "Spin The Wheel." Contest. Before she turned the wheel, Carey asked Montague if she wanted to say hello to anyone.
"Hello to New Orleans, the Ninth Ward ... We haven't forgotten you, we're coming back," said Montague, who spent her spring break helping repair homes damaged in Hurricane Katrina. "That was the most important thing for me to say. That was really exciting."
Bingo!!! Montague won the "Spin The Wheel" contest over two other contestants to advance to the "Showcase Showdown." Montague bid on a refrigerator, a juke box, and two jet skis.
"I bid $16,775," said Montague, who admitted she had no idea how much to bid, but decided her bid would include the #77 because that was the year she claims Elvis Presley disappeared (Montague is a huge Elvis fan. Montague is not convinced Elvis died in 1977).
As luck would have it, the other contestant overbid on the items up for bid, and on The Price Is Right, low bid wins. Congratulations, Mallory Montague, you are today's big winner.
"I just went crazy," remembered Montague, who immediately gave Carey a big hug. Montague then let loose with her emotions and began running around the stage along with friends who stormed onto the stage in celebration.
"I was getting dizzy because I couldn't believe this was happening," said Montague.
After the show ended, Montague then signed documents relating to the winning prizes and appearing on The Price Is Right. What started in a cold, dark parking lot on the CBS studios at 4 a.m. ended 12 hours later with nearly $31,000 in prizes.
The ride home from Hollywood to Northridge was an interesting experience. Montague called her mom in Stockton to relay the good news.
"She didn't believe that I was a winning contestant on The Price Is Right," said Montague. "She finally said congratulations but I knew she didn't believe me. She thought it was an April Fools joke since the show was taped on March 31. Even my friends were trying to convince my mom that I had won. I am a bit of a prankster so I could understand my mom not believing me. But later in the day my mom finally texted me ... congratulations."
Montague, a deaf studies major, plans to sell all her gifts, use the money for graduate school, and finance a trip to see her sister who is a nurse at an orphanage in Honduras next summer.