Like millions of Americans, Jana Birdsong grew up watching the popular CBS daytime television show, “The Price Is Right.” The show, which debuted on Sept. 4, 1972, has aired more than 8,000 episodes. Once Birdsong became a teacher the opportunity to watch the show became limited to summer breaks and episodes available on the network’s website.
Now retired from the Smithton R-VI School District, Birdsong never dreamed that one day she would actually have the opportunity to be a contestant. Wednesday, June 12, friends and family as well as viewers across the nation had the chance to watch Birdsong as she appeared as a contestant on the show.
Although Birdsong wasn’t one of the two Showcase Showdown contestants, the chance to “come on down and spin the big wheel” along with meeting Drew Carey are memories of a lifetime.
Birdsong, her husband, Kim, their son, Clint, and sister, Debbie Murray, got tickets to the April 2 taping of the show filmed in Los Angeles.
“We had special shirts made for the event which were green with the words ‘Drew Crew’ and a shamrock for luck,” Birdsong explained. “We had to arrive at the CBS Studio around 3 p.m. along with 300 other wannabe contestants.”
Little did Birdsong know how lucky those shirts would be.
“The director came out and did quick interviews with groups of 20 at a time,” Birdsong explained. “This is where they pick contestants for the show.
“Much to our surprise, my name was called as one of the first four contestants,” she continued. “So, I was up bidding and came so close several times … finally the next to the last item to bid on was a Skee Ball Machine.”
Birdsong bid $800 on the item knowing her chances to be called up on stage were quickly running out.
“The bell that someone had bid the correct price began to ring,” Birdsong said. “Someone got it exactly right and it was me! When I got up on stage Drew handed me $500 for getting the price correct!”
After meeting Carey, Birdsong had a second heart-stopping moment when she realized she was going to have the opportunity to play The Money Game.
A long-time staple of the show, contestants are asked to guess the price of a car by selecting pairs of numbers that match the first two and last two numbers in the price of a car valued at five digits.
“I got the first two numbers the second try — 18,” Birdsong explained. “Then, I had three chances to get the last two...but unfortunately it wasn't any of the three I chose.”
Although disappointed, Birdsong knew she still had a chance to win additional cash and prizes by spinning the “Big Wheel.”
On her first spin, the needle landed on $.10. On her second spin, another $.10.
“The wheel is heavy,” Birdsong commented. “Drew said that was very difficult to spin the same number twice — so, I got to stand under the winner board for a few seconds.
“It was an exciting, long afternoon and to get to meet Drew Carey..,” she added. “He talked to the audience during commercial breaks. If you ever get the chance to go to ‘The Price Is Right,’ like they say, you should "Come On Down!"