Those Crazy Spins on ‘The Price is Right’ Were Not Rigged – Here’s Why
Something that defied the odds happened on Friday's episode of The Price is Right that has some people shouting "rigged!" They couldn't be more wrong.
Since 1975 when The Price is Right went from a half-hour show to an hour-long show, they determined who will go to the Showcase by spinning the "big wheel" in the Showcase Showdown. The 'Big Wheel' itself is the very same wheel used when the show permanently went to an hour-long show. This prop is probably older that you are.
The three contestants who made it up on stage in one half of the show get to spin the wheel with the objective of being the contestant closest to $1.00. Each contestant gets two spins. If a contestant should get $1.00 exactly in one spin or in a combination of two spins, they win $1000 and get a bonus spin where they win $10,000 for landing on .05 or .10 green sections, or $25,000 for landing on $1.00 again. Having one contestant do this happens semi-frequently. Having all three contestants spin a dollar has happened four times. But this. Five spins of $1.00 in a row has never happened.
A friend of mine, Bowen Kerins, is a consultant for game shows who computes odds and probabilities to help production companies design the game play of their shows. He worked out the odds of five contestants in a row spinning $1.00 and it's about a 1 in 500,000 chance.
Those lottery type odds and the fact that the bonus was upped to $10,000 for spinning a dollar, has people claiming it was all rigged as some sort of marketing ploy to make the video of it go viral. Sorry. Not true.
There are actually federal laws in place that strictly prohibit game shows from influencing the outcome of the game. These laws went into effect after the quiz show scandals of the 1950's where contestants were given the answers to questions to build drama. The most famous of these was the quiz show Twenty One where contestant Charles Van Doren was given the answers to questions so that he would have a continuing run of wins causing viewers to keep tuning in to see how long his streak would go. The scandal was the subject of the 1994 movie Quiz Show.
Ever since then, game shows are constantly under the microscope to make sure something like this never happens again, so rigging the wheel so that each contestant spun $1.00 would get The Price is Right in big trouble with the law
Other factors to consider are that each contestant didn't spin exactly $1.00. Some took two spins to get a dollar, so if it was rigged the easiest way to do it would be so that it always landed on $1.00 That wheel is heavy too. I've spun it. Here's a really dark picture of me spinning it backstage in 1999 after they put it away.
It would be difficult to influence where it lands. If anyone was standing behind it, they would be easily visible to parts of the audience.
So no. The wheel was not rigged. Chalk this one up to an amazing, odd defying win that you will likely never see again.