“The Price is Right” FAQs (Regarding Prizes)

April 24, 2013

Aurora De Lucia laughing on The Price is Right(For FAQs regarding being on/getting on the show, see yesterday’s post. And for more questions and TPiR talk, you can see my main Price is Right page.)

Disclaimer: Obviously, I’m not an official Price is Right person. These answers are just based on my experience as a contestant.

1) Did you have to pay taxes on your prizes?

Yes I did. I had to pay sales tax to pick up the car ($2,067). And, though it has not happened yet, since my appearance was pretty recent – I hear they send you a 1099 at the end of the year for your taxes. So, the value of everything I won counts as income, and I’ll need to pay Uncle Sam accordingly. (For more on the taxes, read this post.)

2) Can you just take the cash value of your prize?

I get this question so often! “So, did you take the car or the cash value?” There is no cash value option. They make it super clear in all of the paperwork – you take exactly what you won, or you take nothing. (You don’t have to take every single thing you won – for instance, I could’ve accepted the car, but forfeited the camcorders. But, you can’t trade for a different car, or money, or anything like that.)

(Though, I have heard a rumor that if somehow a company goes out of business or something and between your tape date and air date, and it actually becomes impossible to get you your prizes, you may have the cash value. But who knows a) if that’s true, b) how often that situation actually happens.)

Aurora De Lucia after falling on the ground on The Price is Right

The Price is Right paperwork does say the show can give you something comparable. For instance, my camcorders are 2 slightly different versions of the same thing. One is bit newer (I think it came out after my show taped.) But, the paperwork protects them. As long as they give you basically the same thing of equal or greater value, it’s all good.)

3) How long does it take to get your prizes?

My camcorders got to my house before the show even aired! I picked up the car the very afternoon that my show aired. And the $96 should be coming sometime in the 3 months after the air date. (I hear that money always takes longer to receive than any other prize, for some reason.)

As far as how the car works, the dealership can call you anytime within 90 days of your show airing. You have 10 days from the day they call you to pick up the car, otherwise you forfeit it. (If they call you before your show airs – and happily/luckily that’s when they called me – my understanding is you get your 10 days starting from the date your show airs. (But I didn’t want to wait 10 days. I wanted that car in my possession as soon as humanly possible.)

Also, as far as cars go, they’re one of the few things not delivered to your house. The Price is Right picks a dealership, I believe within 150 miles of your home, and you figure out a way to get there and pick up that car. (And if you’re planning on driving it straight off the lot to Carmax – be aware – it took me probably at least 2 weeks to get the official title in the mail. I only had temporary paperwork before that. (And you’re gonna need that title to sell your car, if that’s what you plan on doing. Speaking of that…))

4) Are you allowed to sell/give away your prizes?

Once they’re in your possession, you can do basically whatever you want. The Price is Right will not deliver anything anywhere except your home address. So, if you win a bedroom set or something and decide you want to give it to your parents, you have to decide how to ship it from you to them.

Aurora De Lucia going for a hug with Drew Carey on The Price is Right

You also have to have the car titled in your name. You can sell it if you want, but only after it’s gone through your hands.

(If it’s a trip, it’s in your name. So you gotta go. But trips are awesome. (I’ve never been on a trip from a game show, but I do love traveling.) So, I don’t know why you wouldn’t go (unless you just really could not afford the taxes).)

5) Do you get anything just for being in contestants’ row?

As far as I know, you get $300 (not that day – in the form of a check mailed to your home within 90 days of your air date).

6) What did you do with your prizes, Aurora?

I have an upcoming post about that.

As far as I know, that covers all the questions related to prizes. (Tomorrow, we’ll deal with a more philosophical type question of whether it’s okay to out-bid someone by $1. Spoiler alert: I say yes.)

If you have any other questions at all, please leave them in the comments, or email me!

(And again, if you’d like to read more about The Price is Right, I have oh so many posts talking all about it.) Thanks so much for stopping by!

56 thoughts on ““The Price is Right” FAQs (Regarding Prizes)”

    1. I don’t find that too surprising. I’m sure there are many Auroras out there, and blogging is a somewhat popular thing to do… But, hello Aurora! I wish you would’ve left a link to your blog. I would’ve checked it out!

  1. Seriously, these people are adults? Of course you have to pay taxes on gifts worth a certain amount! That’s no surprise!! Are you new here???

    Amounts forgiven by banks in short sales are also subject to being taxed….

    How do people in this country expect things get paid for? You know, roads, courts, agencies who perform services (like the VA) It all takes MONEY PEOPLE!!!!

    Read MY lips “No more free rides”!!!

    1. I was totally fine with paying my taxes on the car. The amount of taxes prevented me from being able to afford keeping the car, but I would’ve sold it anyway – electing to pay off my debt.

      So, I’m not mad (or surprised) about the taxes.

      I’m just stating the fact that they exist (since many people don’t seem to know they do…).

      As far as what our taxes are used for… I’m sure I could have many conversations about whether we’re putting our money in our right place as a country. 😉 But as a citizen, it’s my job to pay into the taxes (even if I don’t really believe in how much we put toward wars & defense), and work on getting politicians I believe in elected. So, it’s all good with me!

    1. You know, I’ve actually heard that comment (“sign me up for winning a car and having to only pay taxes any day”) a lot. And I don’t want to sound ungrateful in the least, because I really am oh so grateful for my good fortune!

      But I also think it’s a little silly how people marginalize the taxes for game shows winners. I hear this “wah wah, poor me – buck up, you won on a game show!” attitude all around the internet if any past winner even dare utter the word “taxes.”

      But, taxes are very real. For me (and I’d think many others), taxes definitely prohibited me from keeping the car.

      First, we start with sales tax. I paid a little over $2,000 just to pick up the car.

      Then, let’s estimate how much you’ll pay in federal. You have to pay taxes on the value of your winnings. For me, my winnings totaled about $21,000.

      Now, I don’t know what bracket everyone’s going to be in. But let’s just assume that this money is taxed at the 25% rate. That means you’re paying $5250 in federal.

      Then, you have California state. Let’s just assume you’re paying 8% (and if you have a higher income, you could even be paying more, but I’m just keeping it in a safe hypothetical range here). So, at 8%, you’re paying $1680.

      Add those estimations together:
      Sales – $2,000
      Fed – $5250
      State – $1680
      TOTAL: $8930(!)

      (Again, those are just assumptions. This would easily be more for people in higher income brackets. (And, I will concede it could be less if someone has enough deductions, credits, etc.))

      So, in a safe hypothetical rang, you’re paying close to $9,000 for a car. But that’s starting to get toward the price you could actually buy a car for in the first place.

      So the idea that “only having to pay the taxes” still leaves you with a practically free car… I don’t know how other people feel, but to me $9,000 is not practically free.

      Again, I’m very thankful. And even selling the car for a depreciated price (because it had previously been owned – even if only for single digit miles), I still of course made thousands of dollars (even after the tax bill).

      So, I’m very happy and very thankful. But I’ll never stop thinking it’s funny that people trivialize $9,000(ish) as though it’s totally nothing just because it’s a bill from something fun as opposed to income.

      (By the way, I hope you don’t think I’m specifically calling you out or yelling at you. (I’m not trying to yell at all, but I know the internet feels very yell-y.) It’s just that so many people have said that same thing, I needed to say a general response to it… So much so that I’m going to turn this into another blog post. So, thanks for the idea! :-))

    1. Lenore, that sounds lovely! I would guess that many (possibly even a majority) of U.S. game show winners either forfeit or sell prizes because they just can’t afford to keep them…

      But up there, not only do you get to keep your game shows prizes tax-free, you still somehow afford socialized medicine. Canada sounds like it rocks! 🙂

      1. Hey Helem, No. The Price is Right does not have a loan service there or anything. I think if you wanted a loan, you’d have to go after it yourself. Thanks for commenting, and have a great day!

  2. The reason you wouldn’t take a trip vacation is that, from what I understand, all departures are from Los Angeles. The trip is to New York and you live in Boston? Too bad… gotta leave from LA.

    1. That is actually a very good point! As someone who lives in Los Angeles, I basically forgot what an inconvenience that would be to fly back out here first.

      However, in the scenario you provided, I’d imagine the person would take the trip, just elect not to use the plane tickets, and take a bus/train instead. And then they would still use the meat of the New York trip – the hotel, any sightseeing and all that jazz…

      But yes, I could see many scenarios in which it would be frustrating and maybe not worth it to take the trip after all…

      1. But you’d still have to pay the taxes on the plane ticket, right? I had read similar stories about game show prizes lately and thought about trying to start up a website that would make it easier to connect winners with people who would buy the prizes but it’s starting to sound like a lot of red tape and hassle.

        1. Probably. You definitely have to pay taxes on everything you receive, whether or not you get to use it or sell it or whatever. The only way you avoid the taxes is if you fill out the paper to forfeit a prize.

          Now, I know you can elect not to take certain prizes. For instance, I could’ve forfeited the camcorder package, or the car, or my $96.

          However, I do not know whether you can forfeit prizes within the prizes. (Examples: only taken 3 of my camcorders instead of 4, or only take parts of the trip (such as hotel) and leave others (such as plane tickets).)

          But I would not be surprised if you couldn’t do that, and that in order to take the trip you had to pay taxes on the full value of said trip.

          Someone could always just tell the guest they’re taking, “Hey, come on my game show trip, but kick in on the taxes!” to lessen the burden…

  3. Congratulations I’m glad you won, it sounds like you have a level head and did the right thing. Thanks for the information even though I don’t expect I’ll be winning any prizes soon.

  4. My dream is to be on The price is right! I figured on taxes and such but wow $9000 is a lot. of course I would do what I can with deductions’. Imgaine the people that win super huge!

    1. I know, right? The other day I saw a man win over $50,000 worth of prizes. Once you win that big, you’re most likely bumped to an even higher tax bracket on part of that…

      It’s funny that there might be this line somewhere for each person – a magic number at which you’d actually take home more by winning less (when the prizes are mainly physical things instead of cash money).

  5. came across your blog after going on the price is right myself. what a rush and a wonderful experience it has been. #1 question is of course about taxes. I won a cash prize of 10k plus the items I bidded on. can’t believe they have basically 5 months to send cash but anyhoo just grateful that its coming. Congrats to you!

    1. Hmm, I never really thought about what happens if they don’t get things to people on the timetables they set up… Also, I think they give themselves 180 days for furniture, which is the category I think the pool table might fall under… I found the prize coordinator to be extremely sweet and helpful. So, I’m sure she’ll help you if you have any questions. Good luck, and congrats to your son, Lynn!

  6. Congrats on your wins and thanks for all the info. I am going to the show in the end of March. Can’t wait. But not sure if I want to win big anymore lol

  7. when you have a show with siblings or friends, why do you give one price,how ius that going to work for the people sharing the car.i think you need to give 2 equal prices,ior 2 vacations,how can they enjoy the price,when it is only for one person.i do love the show,but this is not right

    1. Hey Carla, I have no idea, but I do wonder that myself… Money’s not hard to split. And you could go on vacations together. But it is weird to think about splitting cars between adult siblings who likely do not live in the same home anymore…

  8. This is an awesome blog Auroa. Thanks for taking the time to respond to everyone’s question and I really respect your honesty. Me and a friend were discussing the tax consequences for game show prizes and I never knew how it worked until now. Thanks again!

  9. I watch TPIR everyday and love the show. I came across this site because my son and I were discussing the amount of taxes on prizes (I am a retired Financial Consultant). There are a lot of young college age people on TPIR and some win pretty big, I can’t imagine how they pay the taxes. People that young often don’t have much credit and getting a loan could be difficult and if their parents are footing the college bill that could be quite a shock. The breakdown you gave for your winnings sounds pretty accurate – wow! If I was ever on there (fat chance of that) I would hope to only win cash – LOL.

    1. Hey Shirley! Thanks for your comment. Cash would definitely be easiest. 🙂 I think a car is probably the best thing if you can’t win cash because cars aren’t all that hard to sell… But a living room, or jacuzzi (or even a boat or jet ski), I would think would be pretty hard to turn around for a profit.

      I think there probably are some people who have trouble securing enough money to pay the sales tax bill since it can be steep (especially if they win multiple things through a game and a showcase). But hopefully – since they would be able to sell the car within days – they’re able to secure money somehow from somewhere, knowing they could pay it back almost immediately… with anything but a car, I’m sure it’s a different story. I’d bet money that there are people who pass up on trips simply because they can’t afford the sales tax.

      It’s a sad thing to think about, but there isn’t really a good answer. The Price is Right can’t pay because the budget would explode. I choose to believe most people figure out a way to keep prizes (or at least make money off them) and enjoy their trips simply because I want to believe that. 🙂

  10. Awesome blog. I was recentlybon it and got real lucky with the wheel and the showcase showdown. I can’t wait to get my car

  11. Really good summation of a poorly understood & kinda fun topic.

    How about this – how would taxes work if I (as a Canadian) won on the show?

    1. No because I already had to report the value of the car (as if The Price is Right had given me the cash equivalent). And I did not sell the car for more than that.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  12. That’s interesting on not being able to take the cash value. It must be a change that they have had over the years. My aunt was on about 25 years ago and was able to take the cash value. Also, I won one of the online prizes (the ones where they have it as a prize on the show and then tell the TV audience if they want a chance to win just go to the website). It was valued at less than $300, I wonder how that is going to work on the tax side of things. When I have won prizes less than a certain dollar amount (usually $500-1,000), I haven’t had to worry about taxes, but that was through casinos and radio shows. And I do have a question regarding state taxes. As a non-resident of CA, I would think I could file a non-resident tax return, and pay a lower tax rate. Is that correct? I live in New Hampshire and we don’t pay taxes. Since I didn’t attend a show to win my prize, I wonder if I would have to pay CA taxes at all on it.

    1. Hi Raytech, thanks for commenting.

      That’s cool that you won something online! I really don’t know how the online stuff works, but after you find out, I’d love if you’d let me know! (I’m guessing you wouldn’t have to pay taxes on anything under $600… But I suppose you’ll see! :-))

      Also, what did your aunt win? Did she also win a car? I’ve heard that if something is not available anymore, or if a company decides it’s easier to pay you than ship stuff or whatever, then a cash option might be given in specific circumstances. Or yeah, things might’ve changed. But for sure in our paperwork it was explicit – you take what you win (not a cash equivalent).

      Thanks again for commenting and have an awesome day!

  13. Hello. I just won a car on a game show! So exciting but I am trying to figure out my options. May I ask how you sold your car? Did you sell it back to the dealership or go somewhere else? Thanks!

    1. Hey there anonymous… I think it usually takes anywhere from the time of your show taping to six months later, but I didn’t play plinko (and I don’t work for The Price is Right)… So, I can’t say for certain.

      1. They told us we would receive our prizes anytime after the airdate .. which will be on nov 4 .. i will be the excited guy that made it all the way to the showcase showdown. I told evertone my plan to make it on would work and it did!!!

  14. If the episode you were on doesn’t get broadcasted (interrupted by a news event on CBS etc) do you still get your prizes?? I heard if your episode is pre-empted you don’t get them since the advertiser didn’t get the air time either and hence didn’t get the advertisement time for what they paid for and won’t give the prize (car etc)

      1. Do you have to pay all taxes up front? We are vacationing in CA all the way from Indiana in September. We got tickets for the show. I’m curious if we win small items or furniture or other items, do you have to pay the taxes that day or do you have a grace period?

        1. Hey! I’m so sorry. I thought I replied to this. Whoops! You don’t pay any taxes to The Price is Right specifically. If you win a car, you’ll pay sales tax at the dealership. And you won’t get your car until after the episode has aired. For other stuff, you’ll pay whenever you normally file your tax return. Good luck!

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