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Bob Barker Once Accidentally Gave Away The Correct Answer On The Price Is Right

Imagine the trouble a person would be in if they gave someone the answer to a question on an important exam, like the SAT or the written portion of a driver's test. Such a decision could potentially be life-changing for both cheaters. One might get ahead unfairly. The other might be punished harshly. But what if the whole mess was all just an honest mistake?

When longtime game show host Bob Barker revealed an answer to a contestant on "The Price is Right" during a game called Pick-A-Pair, it was exactly that: pure accident. Thankfully, Barker had earned his reputation as a trustworthy arbiter of the gameshow by then (years earlier, in fact), and no one accused him of rigging the game. Instead, the obvious error revealed Barker as the skilled entertainer, compassionate leader, and effortless comic that fans remember him as decades after he retired from the show in 2007 (via NPR). It was a genuine mistake that became a great moment in television history, and funnily enough, it also wasn't the last time a host on the series accidentally gave away a major prize.

He gave away a lot more than an answer

The incident took place in late 1984, on a set dressed for the holiday season. A contestant named Albert stood on stage poised to win—or lose—a trip to Tokyo, Japan. The prize was no small potatoes, worth $3,605, as the announcer informed the live audience and viewers. Pick-A-Pair rolled forth its offerings Ferris wheel-style, showing different products including a box of raisins, a jar of honey, a package of garlic bread, and a bag of chili. The object of the game, the slender, dark-haired Bob Barker informed Albert, was to identify two products with the same price. Albert, it turned out, was a Texas bachelor who shopped regularly for himself and appeared to have a good chance at getting it right.

"OK, now which one of these products do you want to start off with, Albert?" Barker asked, in a practiced voice. By this time, Barker had already been hosting the show for 12 years, a figure dwarfed by the staggering number of episodes Barker actually filmed throughout his career. Albert chose the chili, and Barker pulled a card to reveal the price displayed in lights: $1.59.

"Now if you can pick out another product that's a dollar fifty-nine, we will give you a trip to Japan," Barker continued, tantalizing the contestant and viewers alike. Audience members called out their guesses as the wheel slowly turned. Albert looked serious as he studied the items, finally deciding, "I'm gonna go with garlic bread."

He and Barker waited for the wheel to bring the garlic bread to the front. Everything about the game was going along as it should. Until it didn't.

Like a pro, he handled the gaffe with grace and good humor

As the wheel came to a stop, Barker rhetorically asked the price of the bread. According to the rules of the game, it had to be $1.59 in order for Albert to win. Barker pulled the card and showed that the garlic bread cost $1.19. A buzzer sounded indicating the incorrect answer, and Barker continued his patter.

"Do you know which one of them is a dollar fifty-nine?" he asked. That's when it happened. He inexplicably answered his own question. "The raisins. The raisins are a dollar fifty-nine."

Barker had given away the answer before Albert was finished playing the game. He quickly caught himself. "Oh wait a minute—what am I doing? The game's not over," he said, sounding as surprised as anyone else. But he quickly recovered, giving Albert a wink. "I'll tell you what," he offered. "You have a good chance of winning this game, Albert."

Albert smiled shyly, and the audience clapped and cheered. Barker chuckled at his mistake. Everyone knew what would come next. But first, Barker built on the energy he'd created. He cheerfully owned up to "making a fool" of himself, joked that Albert should have stopped him from revealing the answer, and led the contestant to continue the game. Albert could now keep either the chili, at $1.59, or the bread, at $1.19, and guess another product with a matching price.

To no one's surprise, he kept the chili, guessed the raisins, and won not only the game, but the big trip too. Like a true pro, Barker shook Albert's hand and wished him well as he left the stage, signing off for a commercial with another self-deprecating dig at his own mistake. "Well, Santa Claus Barker will be back with the second half of the Showcase Showdown after this message," he said, the familiar "Price is Right" tune playing in the background.