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What It Actually Means To Win A Trip On The Price Is Right

"The Price Is Right" is one of America's longest-running game shows, airing continuously since 1956. (Although the current version of the show dates back to 1972.) Part of "The Price Is Right's" enduring appeal is because, like all game shows, it lets viewers play along at home and see how they measure up against the contestants on TV. Those glamorous Showcase Showdown prizes are another big part of the show's popularity. They can include anything from cars and motorcycles to dinette sets to entire prepaid vacations. Or, at least they're allegedly prepaid.

Viewers of shows like "The Price Is Right" are generally aware that so-called "prizes" may not actually work the way the show claims they do. Winning a brand new car is nice, but game shows usually don't mention the taxes or monthly insurance fees that still need to be paid. Vacation giveaways are similarly complicated. While game shows might claim to offer an "all expenses paid" retreat to a dream destination, the reality is a little less dreamy.

Winning a vacation on The Price Is Right is more like winning the option to go on vacation

For starters, it's worth noting that winnings on "The Price Is Right" are taxed, like winnings on any other game show. In 2015, one of the show's executive producers, Michael Richards, told The New York Times how the process works. Before the show sends contestants their prizes, the show first sends a "tax letter" detailing the income tax that will be charged. Contestants have to write a check to cover their taxes before they can collect, and Richards explained that many of them choose to take the cash equivalent instead.

There are other reasons to take the money, too. In 2019, New Hampshire contestant Lee Norton made headlines for turning down a vacation that was part of a grand prize package worth $43,390. Norton was promised a snowboarding excursion to Canada, with the flight fully paid for. In reality, Norton was offered an airline credit, and it didn't cover the full cost of the flight. Additionally, the credit was valid for a flight to Winnipeg, Manitoba. "I called the hotel and they told me there was no ski area for hundreds of miles," he told the New Hampshire news site Foster's. "They said they had museums, but I'm not into museums. So I just dropped it." Instead, Norton took the cash equivalent.

To be fair, this is just one experience. "The Price Is Right" has given away hundreds of vacations, and there's no doubt many contestants have gone on to enjoy them. But if your life goal is for Drew Carey to send you to Aruba, it might be a little more complicated than you think.