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The Record-Breaking Price Is Right Episode That Gave Away Over $80,000

Many game shows have come and gone on television, but few have ever reached the iconic status of "The Price is Right." With its memorable catchphrases, catchy theme music, and history of charismatic hosts, "The Price Is Right" could arguably be considered the blueprint for any new game show that wants to be a successful TV hit. In every episode, the series presents contestants with a variety of competitions. Classic examples of these minigames include "Plinko" and "Any Number." 

Of course, the show is best known for the game at the center of the series. The primary goal of any contestant is to accurately guess the sale price of a mix of randomly selected items. Since its debut in 1972, the series has been noted for a number of standout moments. For instance, when celebrities such as Snoop Dogg get the chance to compete on the show, fans know that they're in for a treat. While prizes usually range from sizable amounts of cash to lavish vacation packs, there have been a few bizarre gifts, like the time a contestant won a horse

Speaking of winning, it was only a few years ago when one "The Price is Right" episode gave away over a record-breaking $80,000. So, what happened? Come on down as we delve into one of the show's most historic moments.

Contestants won big during wheel spins

The big wheel from "Showcase Showdown" might be one of the most recognizable spots on "The Price is Right." This is because this particular game is one of the show's most opportune moments to win major cash. However, contestants took the big wheel to an entirely new level in a 2017 episode of the series (via Golden Road). During the episode, the rules were altered in an important way. Per The Orlando Sentinel, when contestants normally equal to $1 on the big wheel, they earn $1,000, but on this episode, winding up with $1 netted $10,000. And an additional $1 spin equaled $25,000.

Even with the increase, hitting $1 on the wheel still requires a good amount of luck. However, the three competing contestants seemed to have no problem beating the odds. Per CBS DFW, all three contestants on this episode manage to get a $1 spin on their first turns, which earns them a collective $30,000. Before anyone could pick their jaws up off the floor, two of the three contestants follow up their initial spins for that $25,000 bonus, which earns them a collective $50,000. So in total, thanks to five $1 spins, the big wheel awards a whopping $80,000. According to Global News, this means this episode contains the most profitable big-wheel spin in television history.

The episode was part of a milestone anniversary

Usually, a spike in prize money on a game show is rooted in a special occasion, which was definitely the case for that record-breaking big-wheel spin event. The bump in cash prizes was meant to commemorate Drew Carey's 10th anniversary as host of the "The Price is Right" (via Today). Of course, long-time fans of the series will know that Carey followed two previous hosts. 

Bill Cullen fronted the first version of "The Price is Right" from its debut in 1956 until its cancellation in 1965 (via BillCullen.net). "The Price is Right" returned to its current iteration in 1972 with its most recognizable and longest-running host, Bob Barker. After an impressive legacy that included over 6,000 episodes in the span of 35 years, Barker left "The Price is Right" in 2007.

Carey took over the hosting gig after Barker and has definitely appeared to enjoy his job so far. "I really never thought my safe space would be on a sound stage, wearing a mic, cameras on me constantly, and with millions of people watching," Carey told Deadline in 2021. "But that's what 'The Price Is Right' is for me. I love it." By now, Carey has spent 15 years with the show, which means that while he's creeping up on Barker's 35-year run, he still has a lot of catching up to do.