Attention big spinners: Come on down to Yahoo Entertainment's virtual Price is Right experience! To celebrate the 50th season of the beloved daytime game show, we're giving fans the opportunity to take its world-famous Big Wheel for a spin via augmented reality. Click on the experience below for your own chance to hit the $1 spot, with the encouragement of Price is Right announcer, George Gray. You can even use your mobile device to put the Big Wheel, as well as a Showcase Showdown podium, in your own space so you don't have to make the trip to the show's studio in sunny Los Angeles.
The other nice thing about this virtual version of the Big Wheel is that it doesn't require any arm strength to spin. "It's heavy, and I don't mean like in that late '60s 'heavy, brother' way," Gray tells Yahoo Entertainment about the 2,000 pound wheel. "It weighs a lot! There are people who can't get it to go around a single rotation. You gotta put a little muscle into it."
Of course, it also helps if you host the show, since that prime position awards you multiple chances to try your luck. At least, that's been Drew Carey's experience. The comedian replaced game show legend Bob Barker — who hosted the series for 35 years — as The Price is Right's emcee in 2007, and confesses that he spun the wheel a lot (off-camera, of course) early on in his tenure.
"I couldn't wait to spin the wheel during a break just to see how I would do," he says, chuckling. "I don't spin it anymore, but I did it all the time when I first started. If you had all day to practice before the show, you'd have a good idea of how to spin it when it's your turn. But when you're up there, you have no idea how heavy or light it is until you actually do the spin, and then it's too late. That's how we get ya."
Carey also highlights another important aspect of the Big Wheel that fans sometimes forget — that spinning it part of the Showcase Showdown, which then sends the final two contestants onto the Showcase round, where they have a chance win it all. "It's the showdown to see who gets to go to the Showcase," the host explains. And according to Carey, stepping behind our virtual version of the Showcase Showdown podium is more impressive than what contestants experience in real life. "Behind the real podium is just unfinished wood and electrical wires that are plugged into the monitor," he reveals. "So it doesn't look that great. All the magic is in the front!"
Meanwhile, Carey, Gray and longtime Price is Right model Rachel Reynolds all credit the passionate Price fanbase with being the magic that's kept the show on the air for 50 seasons and counting. "We can't do it without the fans," Carey says, with obvious affection in his voice. Reynolds adds that the the non-competitive atmosphere fostered by contestants and fans alike makes ThePrice is Right a unique place to work. "No one wants anyone to do badly," she says. "When you're up there onstage, everyone's rooting for you. That's what's made the show go on for as long as it has."
In honor of the show's 50th season, the trio shared some of their favorite memories of the series and teased what's ahead for this record-setting season.
The best part of every taping
Drew Carey: I like talking to people in the audience. I can crack jokes and… hear somebody's story. It reaffirms my hope for humanity, because everybody in the audience is basically good and they're trying their best. They don't have any agenda besides having a good time. It's nice to be able to talk to people from all walks of life, with all kinds of backgrounds and find out how much everybody has in common. They're really no different from me, and I'm no different from them.
George Gray: My favorite part is when somebody wins! We're always cheering for everybody, but are times where you're like, "This person deserves it so much." You want them to win, and just when it looks like they're not going to pull it off, they win! That's the greatest thing ever.
Rachel Reynolds: I like from the watching the contestants get called down by George. To to see their excitement, and that initial first chance of hope that you're going to get onstage. I also love when they get to spin the wheel. I don't know — I love it all! I know that's not a good answer. [Laughs]
The legacy of Bob Barker
Gray: I came onto the show four years after Drew was named the host, so I didn't work with Bob. But he came back for his 90th birthday, and it was just so cool. He came in wearing a St. Louis Cardinals jacket, and I'm from St. Louis, so we immediately talked about that. Later on, he was standing next to the podium, and he told me, "Nobody knows this, but I've never said, 'Come on down.' That was the announcer's job!" So he actually did it on that episode! He said, "Come on down." To be standing right next to him when he said that is one of my favorite Bob Barker moments. It was really neat. And I kinda hated the fact that he did it way better than me, but what are you going to do? [Laughs]
Reynolds: Bob was such a class act. He was so professional, and I loved his one liners. I know this sounds so cliché, but he was the ultimate showman and knew how to make people feel comfortable. If there was a small blooper, he knew how to roll with it and just keep on going and make everyone feel good about themselves. He always turned it into a positive. That's definitely something I learned from him.
Carey: Every time I drive onto the CBS lot, I see the Bob Barker Studio [where Price is Right tapes] and there's still a mural of Bob on the wall. I'm really glad whenever I see it. He told me when I started that I needed to make the show my own and not try to copy him, which I totally agreed with. I couldn't get up there and do a Bob impression, because then I'm inauthentic and nobody's going to like me. I had to honor the legacy of the show by being the best Drew Carey I could be, and hope that would be enough.
Favorite fan encounter
Reynolds: We were doing a Veteran's Day show one year, and there was a military veteran who won a pick-up truck. I remember him lifting me up and swinging me around. He was so kind, and I'll always remember that. I have a special place in my heart for veterans, and he made that particular show very exciting and fun for me.
Carey: I remember there was a woman in the audience who was majoring in neuroscience, and her dad or uncle was doing app development for some tech company and I just wanted to talk to both of them, because they seemed really interesting! Or I'll talk to somebody whose a bartender and that'll be really interesting, too. I don't have the time to have those kinds of in-depth conversations with people [during the show], but I wish I did. I'm always interested in everyone that's in the audience and want to know what makes them tick.
Gray: There are so many. Whenever I first go out onstage and say hi to everybody, their eyes are as big as saucer plates. I always get a kick out of when somebody can't sit still like they're 4 years old! They're just so happy to be there, and I love it.
What to expect in Season 50
Carey: Honestly, the opening week is nuts and there's a couple of moments from the opening week where I really had to go backstage and collect myself. I won't spoil it, but we offer a million dollar prize every single day, and I remember that one night I couldn't sleep thinking, "Is it wrong to offer a million dollars? Maybe people would be tempted to take a chance that they shouldn't have." So I had to go through this whole [emotional] thing. I don't know how it'll look when they edit it, but it was an emotional week for me!
Reynolds: I'm excited that we finally have an audience again, because we're coming off of a year where COVID-19 meant that we didn't have an audience. It's very cool how the producers were able to keep an audience while also being COVID friendly. We also have a couple of new games that are very exciting, and one of them is only going to air this season. And, you know, the 50th season is our Golden Anniversary, so there are lots of things on set that have a little gold in them. If you're a big fan, you'll notice that a lot of the doors and the trimming have a little gold feature to them.
Gray: There's a new game called "To the Penny" that's really neat and has got some great strategy to it. You start with five pennies in your hand, and there's an item where you have to guess if it's this price or this price. If you're not sure, you can give me one of the pennies, and I'll take away one of the prices in the first round, which gives you the answer. So that would give you $1,500, but the top prize is $25,000 in cash, so you want to try and save those pennies to be able to get to more choices. It can get really tough near the end so it's great to have those pennies! I love games that have strategy, so this is a fun game for the 50th season.
Price is Right airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on CBS