Come on down: Summit High School graduate Drake Schmidt scores big on TV’s "The Price is Right’
SILVERTHORNE – It’s a guilty pleasure most of us would hate to admit. But most people have, at some time, caught themselves glued to the tube watching TV’s longest-running game show, CBS’s “The Price is Right,” and wondering just what it would take to be a big winner – or yelling at contestants who don’t seem to remember what a box of Tide costs.
Nineteen-year-old Colorado Mountain College student Drake Schmidt had always been a fan of the show. And when a recent trip took him to Los Angeles, the Summit High grad thought he’d take a chance to win big with host Bob Barker and the show’s bevy of beautiful models.
And win he did, earning more than $34,000 in prizes (including a 2003 Ford F-150 pickup truck) during an episode that aired nationally last month.
Schmidt, currently interning at the Keystone Lodge as part of CMC’s culinary program, says he still can’t quite believe his own luck – especially when many of his friends and family doubted his optimism.
“I thought it was a great idea, and I was totally excited about it, but everyone I talked to said I’d go out there and I wouldn’t win anything,” Schmidt said. “I showed them all up.”
Schmidt and friend Matt Kimmel had arranged to get tickets to the 31-years-and-running show, taped in Los Angeles’ Studio City, before they headed off to L.A. in late April for vacation. After spending a few days in Las Vegas and touring Southern California, they geared up for their shot at one of TV’s gaudiest spectacles. Little did they know it would be an all-day ordeal, although the payoff was certainly worth it.
“What we didn’t realize was that the tickets we got weren’t really tickets for the show – they only gave you a chance to get in line for the show, because there’s only room for 325 people in the audience. So we had to leave my uncle’s house at 4 a.m. and were in line by 5:45 a.m., even though taping didn’t start until 4:30 p.m.”
Luckily, the duo was picked by producers at 7:30 a.m. and was able to grab lunch at the La Brea Tar Pits before getting back in line for another three hours to wait for seats.
“We got to know a couple from New Orleans very well while we waited around that whole day. S The lady had taped a week’s worth of shows and knew all the prices. So we made a pact that if they got up on stage, they’d invite us up, or we’d do the same thing for them.”
Place your bids
As the show began, Schmidt was one of four contestants invited to “come on down” and bid on items. He placed a comfortably low bid on a refrigerator/freezer combo – the first of his prizes – and was invited to go up on stage and participate with Barker in “Bob’s Better Bargain,” one of the show’s longtime contest segments. Bagging lawn furniture and a new Moped by correctly guessing prices, Schmidt earned the right to spin the big wheel and go on to the show’s trademark Showcase Showdown.
“I was whisked off stage to sign some legal papers … and I was in such a daze, I don’t even remember what I signed. I was so excited I was shaking.”
He spun an even dollar on the big wheel spin-off and got the opportunity to face off against a female police officer from Brooklyn in the Showcase Showdown.
“When I saw them bring out a home theater system and the truck, I knew that was the big one that I was going to bid on. During the commercial break, Bob said the show was running a little long and asked us to get our bids ready – and it seemed like he was trying to distract me while I got my numbers together.”
Schmidt’s $26,245 bid – a number he says he pulled out of his head – was only $2,000 off the actual retail price. When his competitor overbid, Schmidt was declared the winner.
“I was totally freaking out. It was weird. S The first person I hugged was this total stranger from New Orleans we’d spent 12 hours in line with. And then Bob invited me to come on over, and we all got in front of the truck with all of those beauties to close the show. It was just amazing.”
The price of fame
And for anyone who’d ever wondered just what happens when you win a treasure trove of prizes on a TV game show, Schmidt is finding out the sudden windfall could have some less-than-desirable tax implications.
“I used to make $12,000-$17,000 a year, and with $34,000 in prizes, I’ve got to claim that all as taxes – so if I don’t watch out, I might owe the IRS $8,000. So I’m trying to decide what to do with the truck. The show offered to fly me out to pick it up or deliver it to me, but I’m thinking of selling the truck. Beverly Hills Ford has been trying to screw me over and only wants to give me $14,000 for the truck … so I’ve got to think about that. But I’m gonna keep everything else.”
Schmidt says his mother has cleaned out the garage in the family’s South Forty home to make room for his load of swag, which has yet to arrive. He’s still pondering what to do exactly with the truck and says he continues to take great pleasure in thumbing his nose at his many doubters.
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