Tuesday, October 13, 2015 • 11:30

Valley Center resident wins big at The Price Is Right

April 02, 2014
After accepting a last minute invitation to attend The Price Is Right with friends, little did Craig Gagliardi know that he would be appearing as a contestant on the show. Friends who had tickets changed their minds about going so the winning ticket was given to Gagliardi who had always thought about attending the game show one day. As a youngster, he would go home after school to watch Bob Barker host the show, now he was living his dream.

"I was beside myself and literally stepped into my dream, it happened so fast," said Gagliardi.

He and his friends arrived at the CBS studio at 8:30 a.m. and stood in line until 12:30 p.m. when the waiting crowd of 350 people was shown into the studio.

"I didn't know what to expect," said Gagliardi. "It was absolutely better than what I thought. The staff made it a lot of fun even when we were standing in line."

While everyone was waiting in line, the energy was high. People were walking around. There was a professional photographer on hand to take pictures.

Everyone who attends the show has the opportunity to be selected as a contestant. Initially there is a quick interview process with the producers and all the hopefuls. Groups of ten meet with the producer for a quick discussion. Gagliardi surmised that disposition and personality may be a determining factor for the selection process.

"Everyone wants to get onstage," Gagliardi said. "Just because you're called doesn't mean you get on stage. You have to have the ability to bid on prizes."

When the announcer called Gagliardi's name he was so excited he jumped from his seat hitting his friend in his face and knocking his glasses off.

Four contestants were bidding on the cost of the first item which was a woman's outfit including a skirt, sweater, purse, and an Apple iPad. Gagliardi was the first to bid, the worst position to bid from, but his bid of $1100 was the closest to the actual cost of $1250 winning the prize. The initial win allowed him to join host Drew Carey onstage for spinning the wheel. Again, Gagliardi won being the closest contestant to reach the one-dollar mark without going over.

"It is literally like a dream when you're up there," said Gagliardi. "When I got onstage I really couldn't see my friends. There are five big cameras. The lights to the set are on and there are camera crews. I was so hyper. I was going out of my mind."

During a commercial break, the set was rearranged. Carey, a talented comedian, entertained the audience. Next, Gagliardi had to bid on a Sea-doo jet ski with trailer.

"My friends were cheering. Everyone was screaming. They were going crazy in the studio. Three times, I kept on thinking I'm going to pass out. It was so much fun," Gagliardi said.

He won that prize too making him eligible for one of the two contestants competing in the showcase showdown. Gagliardi bid on his showcase, a trip to China, vacation in North Carolina, and cash but his competitor was $200 closer to his showcase bid, winning the showdown.

"The only thing I remember is Drew Carey giving me an odd look. I thought I had overbid. I started second-guessing myself," said Gagliardi.

He walked away from the game show winning $9,500 worth of prizes.

"I had a smile from ear to ear the entire day," Gagliardi said. "I didn't know how that could possibly be. You can't grasp what you've won. You don't have time to look at it, touch it. You see it then it's gone."

Gagliardi attributed his winning to being able to think quickly and having a lot of luck.

The show was taped January 29th then televised March 26th. Gagliardi watched the show along with cheering friends. When he appeared onstage his family began calling to recapture the experience. His office held a party to celebrate.

"It was interesting to see the contestants' reactions. I don't even remember making those gestures," Gagliardi said. "When you get called up its random, it happens so fast it's mesmerizing." Gagliardi described the event as being a lifelong experience.

"The entire event was surreal. It was a blast. It happened so fast I couldn't catch my breath. It's something I'll never ever forget as long as I live," said Gagliardi.

Beginning its 42nd season, The Price Is Right is television's longest-running game show. It premiered September 4, 1972 after being revamped from the original 1956 version hosted by Bill Cullen. The most recent version was hosted by Bob Barker until 2007 when Drew Carey began hosting the show.

Originally from Los Angeles, since 1979 the Gagliardi family had been visiting the area where Craig's father owned an avocado grove. Valley Center has been Craig's home for the past five years.

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