It was very early in the morning, back in mid-November, and Brad Conner was just waking up in his Los Angeles hotel room.
“He wasn’t even totally awake yet,” said his wife, Stacy. “And he said ‘I had a dream that I was on ‘The Price Is Right’ and I won the showcase.”
The first of that dream was a given. Brad and Stacy Conner had tickets to see a taping of “The Price Is Right” that morning.
On Friday, they had about 20 friends and family members crammed into their living room to watch the show. The Conners had been sworn to secrecy. They were allowed to tell people that they “had a great time,” but that was all. At 11 a.m., even their parents and their son didn’t know what happened on the show.
There had been hints, though, and people at the party were expecting something big.
But for the first few minutes of Friday’s show, there wasn’t much excitement in the Conner living room. The camera showed Stacey and Brad sitting in the back corner of the audience, and that was all. The first four contestant who were summoned to the stage were all non-Conners.
But Brad Conner was the the next to be implored to “Come on down.” His first bid was way too low and he remained on Contestants Row through the next pricing game.
Conner played a game called Pocket Change. If he won, he’d get a 2017 Toyota Corolla. Conner had to pick the numbers in the price of the car one by one. He made some early mistakes that caused him to lose the game.
The next prize up for grabs was a car audio system. The first contestant bid $1,200, the next $1,750. Conner bid $1,201, effectively shutting out the first bidder. The last person bid $1,500. Host Drew Carey announced that Conner had won.
He came on stage and shook hands with Carey, who asked him where he was from, and he said he was from Columbus, Ohio “but now I’m down in Bradenton, Florida.”
Conner played the Pocket Change game. If he won, he’d get a 2017 Toyota Corolla. Conner had to pick the numbers in the price of the car one by one. He made some early mistakes that caused him to lose the game.
At the party in his home on Friday, Conner talked about how adrenaline and the roar of the crowd — 300 people screaming out their wild guesses about the car’s price — had unnerved him a little bit. He had done a lot of research about the prizes that appear on he show, but had become flustered.
“I probably would have done better without the audience,” he said. “I knew that car was $20,000. But you’re up there and people are yelling “Nine! Two!”
A couple of minutes later, he was getting ready to spin the big wheel for a chance to get into the Showcase Showdown, where the biggest prizes of the day are up for grabs.
The first contestant spun .85 cents. Conner got .35 cents on his first try, and then .65 cents on the second. That gave him exactly $1, a $1,000 prize and a spot in the showdown.
The next few Conner-less minutes of the show weren’t especially thrilling for the party crowd, but Conner advised them to stay focused. “I’m still in the showdown,” he reminded them a couple of times.
Finally, Conner and an opponent got a chance to bid on prize packages. Conner’s showcase included a trip to Maui and a sailboat. His opponent bid on a new car and a trip to Italy.
Conner told people at the party that he initially thought his opponent’s bid was too high, so he was hopeful. It turned out her bid was about $2,000 under the correct price. That’s very close by Showcase Showdown standards.
He was so discouraged that even when Carey announced that Conner’s bid was even closer, Conner though he had lost.
We’re going to Hawaii! We’re going to Hawaii!
“No, you won, you won!” Carey told him.
Stacey Conner rushed on stage. In a move they had planned ahead of time on the off-chance that they got on the show and won, they both lay on the floor and made “snow angels.” Some of his Floridian friends at the party did not recognize the move. (It’s something kids do up north. It involves lying on your back and waving your arms and legs, which leaves a pattern in the snow that looks like an angel.)
Until that moment, the Conners still hadn’t told anyone that he had won. In the living room, Brad Conner jumped up and shouted “We’re going to Hawaii! We’re going to Hawaii!” He reached into a bag and tossed plastic leis to everyone in the living room.
Conner called the experience of of watching the show “surreal.”
“I didn’t remember any of it.” he said. “I remembered that I won, but I didn’t remember my motions or anything I said.”
Carey and the show’s staff were all friendly, he said, and the cast members kept calling Conner “mini-Drew” because of his glasses and a very slight resemblance.
The prizes should arrive within 30 days, he said. The Conners plan to sell the sailboat and use the money to buy a Jeep.
It will have a bumper sticker that says “I won this car on ‘The Price Is Right,’” he said.