When the announcer told him to “Come on down! You’re the next contestant on ‘The Price is Right!’” Laurel resident Howard “Rick” Barnett said one of his lifelong goals had been fulfilled.
“This was one of my biggest childhood dreams,” said Barnett, whose appearance as a contestant on the television game show is set to air at 11 a.m. Jan. 31 on CBS.
The 46-year-old had been a fan of the show for as long as he could remember, going back to the 1970s and the game show’s former host, Bob Barker.
“The Price is Right” is an hourlong game show where contestants compete for prizes by playing games centered around guessing the prices of products and prizes. The show first premiered on CBS in 1972.
Barnett’s parents, Howard Barnett Sr. and Carrie Barnett of Dinwiddie, Va., said their son used to watch the show with them in the early 1970s, and he liked to play along with the television contestants.
“He used to say, ‘I’m going to be on ‘The Price is Right’ one day,’ and I would tell him, ‘California’s a long way away,’ but he would always say, ‘You’ve got to think positive, Mom,’” his mother said.
Barnett, who does computer-aided drafting and design for Laurel-based Magnolia Plumbing Inc., said he was in California for a family reunion during the Thanksgiving holiday. His aunt had received free tickets to a taping of “The Price is Right,” and Barnett said he was excited about going. Three of his cousins had previously been on the show, and Barnett said he was thrilled to have the opportunity to be in the audience, along with his parents and another cousin.
Although it took five hours to get in, Barnett said the wait was worth it.
“I think one of the greatest things was meeting other people from all over the country,” Barnett said.
Contestants are chosen from the studio audience, so while Barnett knew he might get called, he said it still came as a shock when he heard the announcer summon him to “Contestant’s Row,” where he had a chance to compete for prizes.
“It was unbelievable. It was just shocking,” Barnett said. “I was excited. I was in awe. I cannot think of words to describe it.”
Barnett is under a confidentiality agreement with the network and cannot speak about the game results until the episode airs.
He did say he had a “tremendously awesome time” and was thrilled to meet host Drew Carey.
“He was a very genuine, down-to-earth guy. He told stories about former contestants and he had us all laughing,” Barnett said. “It was all about having fun and being able to be there with my family cheering me on.”
Barnett said he has been very low-key about his appearance and has only mentioned it to his closest friends.
One of those friends is Melissa Barnett, no relation, of Alexandria, Va. She said that in the three years she has known Barnett, he has always been a game show enthusiast.
“Rick is such a character. He works hard at his job, but his passion is being an actor, so I can’t wait to see him on ‘The Price is Right,’ because I know he’ll be a ham,” she said.