By JEN CARDINES
When Plantsville native Steven Szumiesz was asked to “come on down,” time stopped for a brief moment. But there was Drew Carey, standing on stage waiting, while cameras scanned the crowd.
“It was insanity,” he said. “My wife was in the air before I even realized I was called.”
During a family trip to California, Szumiesz and his wife visited CBS studios in Los Angeles to view a taping of “The Price is Right,” but his once-in-a-lifetime moment struck and Szumiesz left the soundstage as a major winner.
Hosted by Bob Barker until 2007 and Drew Carey thereafter, The Price is Right features a wide variety of games and contests with the same basic challenge: Guess the prices of everyday retail items. It is the longest running game-show in television history, having premiered on Sept. 4, 1972.
“Everybody in the cast and crew is ridiculously nice,” Szumiesz said, recalling his encounter with the famous announcers, prize models, and hosts.
On May 10, CBS aired the episode featuring the Southington local, but episodes are recorded months in advance. Szumiesz’s California vacation where the show was filmed happened in February.
“It’s tough when you get back home and have to keep it under wraps,” Szumiesz said. He won over $18,000 in prizes, which included designer sunglasses and a 2017 Honda Fit 5-door hatchback car.
“That’s pretty much the jackpot for The Price is Right,” said Szumiesz.
The studio offers free admission during the recording sessions, so that anyone can be in the audience. Szumiesz said that producers “get a sense of who you are” by interviewing the attendees as they enter, but no one knows they will be called down to play until the moment hits.
“Looking out there at a crowd that’s cheering for you, you go through the ‘pinch me, is this real?’ moment,” Szumiesz said while describing his experience.
He was one of the first contestants out of the bunch to be called on stage to play a preliminary pricing round. That winner joins the host on stage for one of more than 70 different pricing games.
Szumiesz’s luck continued as he advanced to spin the big wheel, hoping to get as close to $1 as possible in the “Showcase Showdown.”
“Spinning the wheel was really nostalgic,” Szumiesz said.
From there, he progressed into the finals where his bid won the grand prize. Most of us come home from vacation with t-shirts and various knick knacks. Szumiesz came home with a brand new car.
To view Szumiesz’ performance, anyone can log on to www.cbs.com/thepriceisright. His episode (No. 156) originally aired on May 10. For general show photos, visit www.cbsexpress.com or www.facebook.com/thepriceisrightcbs.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.