Drew Carey on Why He Loves Hosting ‘The Price Is Right’
The idea of people participating in a game to win money has been around forever. The games are on television now, but they were on radio first, and before that in newspapers. I remember watching Queen for a Day, To Tell the Truth, I’ve Got a Secret! and Match Game as a kid.
People have asked me why the show I host, The Price Is Right, has lasted for over four decades and why it’s important. One of the reasons it’s stayed around so long is that we take average people from the audience—nurses, teachers, construction workers—who we can root for and relate to as they try to win a big prize. The contestants are never upper-management level, but a cross section of people with everyday jobs who are plucked from obscurity. They overcome and overcome and win something at the end. Their lives could be changed forever.
Here’s a perfect example. A woman came to the show with her fiancé and her mom. She said, “We just got engaged and we have zero dollars, we can’t even buy a car.” She was picked to play and won a car, a boat, then a honeymoon in Peru and New York City. Everybody watching the show got to see her whole history. Since the beginning of time, people have liked to hear stories like this, about other people that make them feel good. Really good game shows are able to tell those stories.
Game shows are also very aspirational. Viewers at home can go, “That could be me!” I hear all the time, “I watch this with my mom.” People tweet photos: “Here’s my baby watching The Price Is Right.” When they were sick, or their loved ones were in the hospital, we were there. We’re one of those things you share with people close to you.
You might say that everything in my life has prepared me to host The Price Is Right because besides having improv and stand-up experience, which helps me relax in front of cameras, I was stone-broke for years. I once gave my blood plasma to get money for food. If a billionaire won the $10,000 I gave away today, it would be nice, but he wouldn’t jump up and down. But when regular people win $10,000…I can really appreciate that the money helps pay college tuition or for a living room set or a tour of the Vatican.
As a game show host, you see people have one of the happiest moments in their life; that energy flies off of them. I get overwhelmed by it every single show. It’s a super rare job that is so meaningful to so many people. Sometimes the compliments are overwhelming. So it’s more than a cool job that pays well, it has become a calling. —As told to Ileane Rudolph
The Price Is Right, Weekdays, CBS.