Brittany McCarthy of Mount Pearl has been keeping a big secret for more than a month.
The 21-year-old Memorial University student was a contestant on “The Price is Right” in January, but couldn’t reveal if she’d won a prize until after the show aired Thursday.
McCarthy was at home with her boyfriend, Justin Penney, and several other friends Thursday afternoon as they counted down the minutes until the show aired at 12:30 p.m.
“What I can tell you is that it was an unforgettable experience,” she said.
The fun began on Christmas Day when McCarthy’s parents, Tim and Jeanie McCarthy, and her 27-year-old sister, Ashley McCarthy, gave her a trip to California to the People’s Choice Awards. They gave McCarthy’s 25-year-old sister, Genna McCarthy, the same gift.
Ashley McCarthy lives in Alberta. The three young women and their parents were taking the trip together.
During the Christmas holidays, Genna McCarthy went online to see if she could get tickets to “The Price is Right” in Los Angeles. She was lucky enough to get them and on Jan. 9 the family headed to the CBS studio wearing navy T-shirts with Newfoundland printed in large yellow letters across the front of each shirt.
More than 300 people had tickets for the show, McCarthy said, and thus began what eventually became an eight-hour wait.
Wannabe contestants are placed in groups of 12 and then interviewed individually by producers.
“They asked me where I was from and I told them Newfoundland, Canada. I told them I was a poor student and that I really needed to be on the show. And I told them where we are from, people really care … that we put missing cats on the news,” McCarthy laughs.
McCarthy and her sisters were told to sit in the front row of the audience. Their parents were seated directly behind them.
Only nine contestants are selected from the 325 audience members for each episode. Of these nine contestants, only six make it past contestants’ row to play the game.
McCarthy was speechless when the show’s host, Drew Carey, called her name as the very first contestant. It’s almost impossible to hear the names with the roar of the crowd, she said, but producers at the front hold up large white signs with the person’s name on it.
“When I saw my name I freaked out like crazy. I was just so excited to even get in contestants’ row.”
McCarthy was the closest bidder on a sofa valued at more than $1,000. Carey then invited her to play the Plinko board game where contestants can win up to $50,000.
McCarthy had three large, plastic chips to place at the top of the Pinko board. The goal of the game is to drop the chips and watch as they make their way to the bottom of the board and into slots marked with various amounts of money.
Her first chip landed in the zero amount. Her second chip earned her $1,000.
“Here it comes, my last chip,” McCarthy said to her boyfriend and friends as she watched herself on television releasing the last chip.
The chip landed in the $10,000 slot.
“I won $11,000,” McCarthy yelled, raising her arms in the air.
McCarthy also spun the big wheel for a spot in the final showcase, but didn’t make it.
She’s not disappointed, she said, and has already decided what she’ll do with her winnings.
McCarthy and her boyfriend recently bought a home in Paradise. The money will help them make renovations to the basement apartment. They plan on living in the apartment and renting the upstairs.
Being on the show was an opportunity of a lifetime, McCarthy said.
Carey was a great host, she said, and made small talk with her parents and sisters during a commercial break.
During their five-day stay in California, the family also went to a basketball game and an NHL hockey game.
McCarthy doesn’t hesitate, however, when asked about the highlight of the trip.
“‘The Price is Right.’ And I’ve proven that you can get on the show. You just have to be a little bit crazy.”