Wolf Pack cheerleader wins big on 'The Price is Right'
Drew Carey, comedian, television personality and game-show host, met up with a Barker -- 21-year-old University of Nevada, Reno cheerleader Jenica Barker, that is -- on the longest-running game show in TV history.
"Let's give a cheer for Jenica Barker," announcer Rich Fields said on the day Carey and Barker met.
When Barker heard her name called to "come on down, you're the next contestant on The Price is Right" on Oct. 22, she couldn't believe it was happening.
"I was in shock," Barker said of her appearance in the spotlight on the CBS-TV show that debuted with host Bob Barker in 1972. "It all goes so fast. It was so exciting and unreal."
Jenica Barker is a third-generation The Price is Right contestant. "My mom is in love with the game show and actually got on the show, too, and won a bedroom set on Drew Carey's first show," the Nevada student said.
Barker's mom, Denise, has traveled to Los Angeles for the show 13 times and has taken her daughter several times. "She went again with my grandma and she got called down to contestants' row, but unfortunately didn't make it on stage," Jenica said.
The Barker family has plans in 2008 to make this a fourth-generation experience. "We're taking my great grandma Anita to the show in January, so we have all four generations (participate)," the University finance major said.
Barker, who will graduate in May 2008, is set to obtain her bachelor's degree in just three years. She grew up in Sacramento, Calif., then moved to Reno and graduated from high school, receiving Nevada's Millennium Scholarship. Barker was a gymnast for 12 years and joined the Wolf Pack cheerleading squad for the 2007-08 academic year. She loves to sew and make her own clothing, particularly pants and skirts.
"Everyone should go to Hollywood and go see the show," Barker said. "It is so much fun and the tickets are free."
The Price is Right has contestants bid on featured prizes and other promotional products, and the person with the closest bid to the actual retail price without going over goes on stage to play a pricing game.
The Price Is Right has the distinction of being the longest continuously running game show in North American television history. It has aired more than 6,700 episodes through its first 35 seasons.
Jenica Barker said that there is a lot of waiting, starting with getting in the admission line around 3 a.m. for the 1 p.m. show taping and securing one of the 325 free seats. Then contestants wait for name tags and interviews.
"If you are outgoing and don't care what people think, you have a better shot at being picked (for contestants' row)," Barker said.
So, what's the family secret for being called down?
"You have to be really excited, the whole time. You have to impress the interviewers so that they remember you," she said.
Barker said that she thinks the show's new host Carey, who succeeded Bob Barker in August 2007, is doing a great job and she enjoyed him very much.
"He stays on stage and cracks jokes and talks to the audience and the people in contestants' row," she said. "He is so nice and he really wants everyone to win their game; you can tell by the looks on his face."
Barker was the closest bidder (without going over) for a karaoke machine. She guessed that the retail value was $900 and it was $960; it was her last chance to get on stage.
When Barker made it past contestants' row, she played the Money Game for her chance to win a Pontiac G6.
She did not win the car, but walked away from the game with $196.
"I was bummed for a second until I realized I still got to spin the big wheel. It was so heavy. I was so surprised. I couldn't believe how heavy it was, that was probably the funniest part," she recalled.
Barker spun the big Wheel, first landing on 65 cents and then 30 cents on her second spin for a combined total of 95 cents. She captured one of two spots to go on to the final showcase showdown. Barker was the second-highest-scoring winner of the day. "My showcase was passed to me and it had a trip to Australia, a hot tub and a treadmill," she said.
Barker bid $17,222 and was still $5,500 off, but ended up the closest bidder and took home nearly $24,000 worth of prizes.
The hot tub arrived a few days after she was on the show and is still sitting in her driveway. "I wanted to go to Australia for graduation anyway," Barker said. She will be taking her younger brother Doug on the trip with her.
"I had the best time and will never forget that day," she said. Barker's winning game-show appearance aired on Nov. 9.