Why Some People Who Win on Game Shows Lose in the End
by Matthew Gilligan
Do you ever watch game shows on TV and feel envious? Like you wish you’d get your shot at winning the big bucks in front of a live studio audience or on a reality show?
Well, when you actually do the research and investigate what happens to people who participate in popular game and reality shows, it quickly becomes evident that the experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So let’s look at some specific examples that clearly illustrate this exact point.
Take The Price is Right, for instance. The extremely popular show has been going strong for decades, and rightly so; it’s fun to watch and looks like a good time. I’ve always imagined myself spinning the big wheel, and I bet you wouldn’t need to do much searching to find a tribe of friends who’d be ready, willing, and able to run down the aisles with you and jump up and down for their chance at glory. But what actually happens when you “Come on Down” and have your moment in the sun?
One winner of the iconic game show learned her lesson the hard way. In 2013, a woman named Aurora De Lucia appeared on The Price is Right and won a brand spanking new Chevy Cruze LS. De Lucia could hardly believe her good luck…until she started filling out the paperwork to claim her vehicle.
All game show winners have to pay the sales tax on their goodies before they’re allowed to take possession of their prizes. In her case, this meant $2,067 before she could even get behind the wheel of the new Chevy. The car was valued at $19,652 and De Lucia also had to pay federal and state taxes. She ended up forking over roughly $9,000 when all was said and done. On top of all that, contestants only have 10 days to claim their vehicle once they’ve been notified that it’s available. So if you win a super-expensive car, your vehicle is ready to go, and you can’t scrape together tens of thousands of dollars in ten days… no car for you. Bye.
Case in point: another woman named Sheree Heil won a new Audi on the same show and ran into the same issues: except her total bill was MUCH higher. The Audi R8 she won was valued at $157,000 and Heil’s combined tax payments added up to a whopping $61,000.
I’m willing to bet most folks don’t have that kind of spare cash laying around.
What about the contestants who appear on the outrageously popular show The Bachelor? The term “the price of fame” is really spot-on with this program. Although the stars of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette make about $100,000 for appearing on the show, the contestants who are vying for their love make exactly ZERO dollars. From the show itself, anyway. And, with the exception of the two dresses worn by the last two contestants during the final rose ceremony, all contestants have to arrive with and provide enough camera-ready outfits to last the run of the show in case they make it all the way.
Contestants also have to put their lives on hold for up to 10 weeks, which means no work and therefore no income, and some go into debt pursuing someone who might be the man of their dreams (hopefully). Former contestant Jillian Harris says she remortgaged her house just so she could afford to appear on The Bachelor and pay for all the spiffy new clothes she’d need for the show.
It sounds almost unbelievable, but some women even cashed in their 401(k)s for the opportunity to compete for love and marriage (and most likely lose) in front of the world.
Besides the kind of prizes a person can win on your run-of-the-mill game shows and matchmaking series, it’s best to be careful if you desire a grand, new home for you and your family. The hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition might seem glamorous and charitable, but judging by the outcome for some people, it ends up being quite the opposite.
Some families who have been helped by the ABC show were essentially forced into foreclosure, because their giant, new homes were accompanied by giant, new tax and utility bills.
The Harvey family learned this lesson the hard way when a new house was built for them by the show in 2005. Six years later, the Harvey’s 4,289 square-foot family home went into foreclosure, and their insane mortgage payments forced them to watch their dream home auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Another example of the “dream home gone wrong” happened to Victor Marrero, who was forced to sell his rebuilt 3,000 square-foot home because his utility bills became way more than he could afford. Marrero said his monthly utility bills ranged from $700-$1,200 and became unmanageable.
Arlene Nickless thought her life would turn around after Extreme Makeover: Home Edition built her a new house in 2008 – and it did… for a while. But a hefty tax increase, from $2,000 to about $7,500 in just one year, forced her, just like other “beneficiaries” of the show, to eventually abandon her home as well. The tax increase, coupled with higher insurance and a bloated mortgage, turned this once-in-a-lifetime dream into a complete nightmare.
So remember, you never get anything for free in this world. If you get the call you’ve been waiting for your whole life to be on the big screen, take a minute to carefully consider if you actually want to go through with it. It might end up not only costing you a pretty penny, but also ruining the life you had before you “won”.