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Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Time Event
12:10p
But seeing Charlie smile can make you stop a while

Somehow I felt it in my bones that there was going to be another round of ``Pay The Rent'' on The Price Is Right, although it came later than I expected, possibly because a promotional week where Publishers Clearing House gave an extra $20,000 to the first person to win a game that day bumped it back. For a game with a theoretical prize maximum of $100,000, you can see how the extra $20,000 might be upstaged. I'd think they would count a $10,000 as winning ``Pay The Rent'', as they do for ``Plinko'', but I haven't seen a case that answers the question one way or another.

No matter, as not only is it looking like nobody is going to win the $100,000, it's possible nobody is ever going to win anything less either. Thursday's lunkhead was Brandon, who had this set of small prizes to place:

Pain reliever ($8.49), Papaya nectar juice ($0.59), Raisin cookies ($0.99), Allegra ($6.47), Gold Bond lotion ($7.18), and Jell-o pudding ($1.19). He put in the first level the cookies, for a level total of $0.99 and right there I supposed he'd lost the $100,000. On the second level he'd put the Jell-o pudding and the Papaya nectar for a level total of $1.78 and I started to think maybe he had a chance. That was blown at the next reveal as on the third level he had the Gold Bond and the Pain reliever for a level total of $15.67 and it should have been obvious to everyone that there was no way the Allegra was more than $15.67. However, Brandon asserted that as he had allergies he knew with certainty that the Allegra was more than $15.67.

To be fair, possibly he misunderstood the size of the box, since I'm sure there are boxes of allergy pills big enough to be more than $15.67, and very easily he might not have known he could ask for the size. But he went on to continue the streak of people who could have walked away with $10,000 instead blowing it entirely. ``Pay The Rent'', for its big theoretical payout, may be the cheapest game Price has: the overwhelming majority of contestants go home with nothing.

Perhaps the show is aware of this, since as I make it out there are six distinct winning arrangements, the most I've noticed. These are:

  1. Papaya nectar ($0.59); Allegra and Raisin cookies ($7.46); Gold Bond and Jell-o ($8.37); Pain reliever ($8.49).
  2. Raisin cookies ($0.99); Allegra and Papaya nectar ($7.06); Gold Bond and Jell-O ($8.37); Pain reliever ($8.49).
  3. Papaya nectar ($0.59); Allegra and Jell-O ($7.66); Gold Bond and Raisin cookies ($8.17); Pain reliever ($8.49).
  4. Raisin cookies ($0.99); Allegra and Jell-O ($7.66); Gold Bond and Papaya nectar ($7.77); Pain reliever ($8.49).
  5. Jell-O ($1.19); Allegra and Papaya nectar ($7.06); Gold Bond and Raisin cookies ($8.17); Pain reliever ($8.49).
  6. Jell-O ($1.19); Allegra and Raisin cookies ($7.46); Gold Bond and Papaya nectar ($7.77); Pain reliever ($8.49).

For the season, the range of price prizes has been $3.90, $4.80, $4.70, $3.10, and now $7.90. The most generous range in winning levels have been $3.20, $2.00, $2.30, $1.30, and a much kinder $7.90.

I'd be interested to see if this multiplicity of potential solutions is a quirk or whether it reflects a desire to give the game at least one grand prize winner since, as Drew Carey noted, nobody's gotten the big prize yet. (One contestant had the prizes laid out perfectly, but walked away to take a sure $10,000 instead.)

Trivia: In March and April 1955 the Bureau of Public Roads tested highway font and color combinations by having drivers (using 1951 Pontiacs) peer at signs reading, ``BALK'', ``FARM'', ``NAVY'', ``STOP'', ``ZONE'', and ``DUCK''. Source: The Big Roads: The Untold Story Of The Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created The American Superhighways, Earl Swift.

Currently Reading: Conversing With The Planets: How Science And Myth Invented The Cosmos, Anthony Aveni.

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