We won the grand prize on the Halloween episode of ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ Here’s how you can get on too.
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A few years ago, my wife and I attended a taping of “Let’s Make a Deal” in Los Angeles.
If you haven’t seen the show, audience members dress in costumes and play games to win prizes. Some of the prizes are pretty cool – like a new car, trips, furniture or electronics. Others are “zonk” prizes – a donkey, slime and useless junk.
Erica and I had been to a taping of “The Price is Right” one year before on our honeymoon. I was called up to contestants’ row (“Nathaniel Eaton, come on down!”) and, while I didn’t get to compete on stage, I did win a year supply of coffee (ironic for a noncoffee drinker).
It was mid-August 2012 when we went to “Let’s Make a Deal,” but the crew was taping the Halloween episode, so the set and cast were extra festive.
My wife and I been asked numerous times how we got on the show and how we ended up winning the “Big Deal.” Here’s what we learned.
It all begins with your costume. Producers look for unique, fun outfits that aren’t too flashy or crazy but will stick out on the air.
I went as a banana, and Erica was a sock monkey. We didn’t spend much money on the costumes, and they were easy to pack in our luggage.
You can’t show any type of brand or logo on your costume. I was wearing black Adidas shorts and was asked to turn them inside out so the brand name was not showing.
If you want to get on a show, come up with a creative, fun costume.
We arrived at the studio with some friends (who were different color balloons) and there was a long line of audience members. A producer walked down the line and gave everyone some paperwork and a name tag.
Groups of 15 to 20 audience members were escorted into waiting rooms, where staff members took photos of everyone. Each person was given five to 10 seconds to say their name, where they were from and anything unique they wanted to add.
Erica and I were at the end of the line and we energetically mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary. One of the staff members took notes on a clipboard and, as we were leaving the room, ran over and said, “Where did you say you were from again?”
Producers look for fun, excited, happy audience members – but they don’t want crazy and insane. Some people were trying too hard, and it was obvious.
We were escorted into a cold studio where loud music was playing. Cameras were focused on the audience, and producers on stage were watching the crowd and taking notes.
They want to see who’s dancing, having fun and enjoying themselves.
After 15 to 20 minutes, a stage manager told everyone to take their seats and reminded the audience to have energy, energy and more energy!
Nobody knows who is going to get called up and the taping begins. Segments move pretty quick, and there isn’t much downtime during commercials.
Being a contestant
About halfway through the show, Wayne Brady said, “I’m looking for a couple.” Everyone started to cheer and Wayne looked over in our section of the audience.
“The banana and the sock monkey!”
Erica and I started to cheer and ran down – ready to win big!
Wayne asked us a few questions and then introduced the game we would be playing – “My husband sounds like a…”
Erica turned her back and Wayne showed me a card with a Halloween-themed item. I then had to make a noise matching the thing on the card and, for every answer Erica got right, we would win $500.
First item: Cat. She got it right.
Second item: Ghost. She got it right.
Third item: Werewolf. She got it wrong. But, in all fairness, my mind went blank, and I made a sound like a lion rather than a werewolf. It was pretty bad.
But we won $1,000.
Wayne asks if we want to trade the money for whatever was in a small box next to him.
Absolutely! Wayne opens the box and its a seven-day trip to Puerto Rico worth $6,000!
We’re thrilled and head back to our seats.
At the end of the show, the contestant who has won the prize worth the most money is asked if they want to trade their prize for a shot at the “Big Deal.”
There were two contestants ahead of us, and they both declined the offer – but Erica and I said yes!
We were escorted down to the stage and, during the commercial, we debated choosing curtain 2 or 3. We were set on curtain 2 but, as the final segment began, Erica started to waffle and said we should choose 3.
I resisted but, before I knew it, she blurted “3” into the microphone and that was our choice.
It paid off. We won a European vacation and an island getaway worth $24,766.
As Wayne said to me, “For the rest of your life, she will be right!”
After the show
After the show, we were escorted into an office where we filled out more paperwork and signed a document promising we would not reveal the outcome of the show to anyone until it aired on Halloween.
The show finally ran two months later, and within a few weeks, we got a letter from “Let’s Make a Deal” about our winnings. We had to pay taxes on our prizes (at least $6,000) before we could book our trips – and both vacations needed to be complete within a year.
We soon learned that Erica was expecting our first baby, and traveling within that year timeframe would be impossible (plus we didn’t have $6K lying around). We declined the prize and walked away from the show with nothing but good memories and a fun time.
Things to keep in mind
- It doesn’t cost anything to attend a taping of “Let’s Make a Deal.” If you’re in Los Angeles and are energetic, happy and exciting, go for it!
- Follow @letsmakeadeal on Twitter and check it the day before you go. They will tweet items to bring that will be included in the final segment of the show. If you have the items, you could win $100 or more.
- If you win a prize, you won’t actually take anything home that day and if, for some reason, your episode doesn’t air, you won’t get your prize. Also, if it gets out that you’ve told anyone or posted what you’ve won on social media, your prize will be revoked.
- You will pay taxes on any prize you win. We had 90 days after the show aired to accept or decline our trips.
- If you win a car, you have to go to a specific car dealership that the show exclusively works with and, if you decide to upgrade the vehicle, you’ll most likely be paying the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). The dealers already receive your prize money for the car before you come in, so they know how much you have to spend.
- You can get tickets to the show on the “Let’s Make a Deal” website.
Finally – if you’ve been on a game show and have won, I’d love to hear about it! Post in the comments below or email email@example.com.