Price was right for him


Being in a good mood and having a smile on his face put Troy Gilbert where millions of Americans have wanted to be -- contestants' row on "The Price is Right."

It all started while Mr. Gilbert, 24, was on vacation in San Diego and received tickets for the game show. On Feb. 13, he drove to Los Angeles for the taping. His appearance airs today at 11 a.m. on Channel 13.

Ticketholders can become contestants if they meet the approval of the producer who greets each of the 310 audience members. Each interview is less than 30 seconds and usually consists of: "What's your name and what do you do?

"We try to pick nine people in the best mood," producer Roger Dobkowitz said in a phone interview from the show's CBS Los Angeles studio. "There are usually 50 to 60 good people. It's hard to choose. . . . A lot of people would like us to pick people out of a hat, but we don't want six sad people."

The nine lucky people don't find out until announcer Rod Roddy yells out their names and says, "Come on down!"

After the interview, audience members shuffled into a studio Mr. Gilbert described as "small and very '70s-ish. The orange was orange. The green was a lime green."

Mr. Gilbert, who manages Video Game Exchange in Laurel, didn't get called during the show's first half-hour. But during the second half, he became the next contestant on "The Price is Right."

"When they got to the 'ert' of my last name, then I realized it was me," he said. "I would have been mad if it was another Troy."

He wasn't sure how he would do on the show, in which contestants have to guess an item's correct price.

"I haven't watched [the show] in two years, and I said, 'Oh, I'm going to do bad,' " said Mr. Gilbert, who grew up watching the show.

Being the newest contestant, Mr. Gilbert had to give the first bid on a set of Collier's Encyclopedias. He guessed $795.

One by one, the other five contestants gave significantly lower bids. One bid $350. Another bid $1. Then Bob Barker announced the actual retail price, $1,500, making Mr. Gilbert the winner.

Mr. Gilbert then hoped to bid on the show's ultimate prize, a new car. But it was not to be. He had to put a $3,565 price tag on one of two items -- a set of patio furniture or a Strikemaster bowling machine.

"I had a 50-50 chance," said Mr. Gilbert.

He searched the audience and saw his friend Kelly Stout. She wanted him to pick the patio furniture. "But I put [the price tag] on the bowling machine."

Mr. Gilbert was right. He also got to take home the patio furniture and the 10-foot-long bowling machine. The whole game took less than a minute.

Mr. Gilbert wasn't finished, however. He still had a chance to win a spot on the final showcase showdown. But first, he and the other winners from contestants' row had to spin the money wheel.

"By this time, people are excited and your hands are sweaty. They slip off. That's what happened to me," said Mr. Gilbert. He just knew he lost.

Still, he did get to bring home about $10,000 worth of prizes. He has the encyclopedias. The patio furniture and bowling machine will be shipped in the next 90 days. Mr. Gilbert said he plan to give the bowling machine to his youth center at the Heritage Church of God.

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