Bonkers is a game that combines elements of Race Game, Split Decision and One Away, played with a single prize.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

  • The contestant is shown an incorrect price (with only digits 3-8) and is given a 30-second time limit to correctly decide whether each digit in the correct price is higher or lower than the one shown. To do this, the contestant is given four discs, each of which is to be placed appropriately on the game board above or below one digit. Once all four discs are placed, the contestant presses a button on a separate platform and a sound effect indicates whether or not the discs are correctly placed.
  • If all four discs are placed correctly, the contestant wins the prize. If even one disc is in the wrong place, a buzzer sounds and the contestant must make changes without being told how many digits are wrong or which ones are wrong. They must continue until the time runs out or until they have correctly placed the discs. If the discs are not correctly placed when the time expires, the contestant loses. If time expires while the contestant is making a change, he or she is usually permitted to finish the change and confirm the final guess. Likewise, if one of the disks falls out after it is placed, the contestant is usually told not to go back and replace it, and just go ahead and hit the button.
  • The best strategy in playing this game is to not look to the audience for help, since the key to winning it is simply getting as many guesses in the allotted time due to not having feedback on incorrect digits (again, neither how many, nor which ones). Carey usually advises contestants this information. In addition, there is the best way to make guesses. Using a swapping order inspired by Gray code, the contestant can try all 16 possibilities using only 15 total swaps.

History[edit | edit source]

  • Bonkers debuted on September 24, 2001 (#1871K, aired out of order on October 1), and was created by then-host and executive producer Bob Barker. It was originally scheduled to premiere on September 18, 2001 (#1862K, aired out of order on September 25), but instead was replaced with Range Game.
  • On the first playing of the game, the actual price was revealed with a price tag held by one of the models (that of Heather Kozar). It was also the game's first win. From the game's second playing on (October 9, 2001, #1892K), the correct price now flips downward from under the game's prop after a button is pressed.
  • On at least two occasions, the game has malfunctioned resulting in confusion. On October 17, 2002 (#2264K), contestant Ron made a last-second change from the correct placement to incorrect placement, but the production staff had already signaled a win with the "winning" bells and the correct placement lighting up. Ron subsequently returned the markers to the correct placement and was signaled with a buzzer. The prize was ultimately awarded to Ron after some additional confusion.
  • On June 2, 2008 (#4361K), the light sequence used at the start of the game, which normally stops as a contestant places discs, continued to flash. The producers awarded contestant Katie Hurst the prize, despite her failure in the game, with host Drew Carey stating the decision was based on the potential of the lights confusing a contestant (which also violated CBS Standards & Practices since the game's lights were not to operate during regular gameplay).
  • On February 12, 2015 (#7004K), contestant David Rowe moved the board while playing the game. After losing, the lights still did not turn on that showed the proper placement (which was the exact opposite of what he had on his last instance) while revealing the price and they thought the machine was unplugged before the lights finally turned on.
  • On April 19, 2016 (#7502K), the second disc fell while putting it on the lower part, but this still helped contestant Charley Casper manage to win anyway.
  • Bonkers was played twice in the Primetime edition. Both at the time were won. The first was to Salute the U.S. Marines on June 7, 2002 (#004SP, aired out of order on June 20) and the second was on March 27, 2004 (#015SP), the 9th Million Dollar Spectacular, Saluting Colleges & Universities.
  • The game was won 110 times and 31 of them occurred when a contestant got it right on the first try.
  • Although never used on-air, the losing horns were used on June 23, 2015 (#7192K, aired out of order on May 20) and December 28, 2017 (#8144K).
  • On October 26, 2016 (#7663K), during Big Money Week, a special cash bonus was added to Bonkers, where a contestant would receive $1,000 for every second remaining on the clock. However, contestant Janet Smith won neither the Prize nor the bonus.
  • On March 7, 2018 (#8243K, aired out of order on January 10) during Publishers Clearing House week, contestant Desmond Jamison won a $20,000 bonus for being the first contestant to win a pricing game. It was played in the first slot.
  • On December 28, 2018 (#8555K, aired out of order on December 27), Carla Mirabelli got confused by how to play this game, and with only two attempts made while playing slowly, she managed to win a kitchen package worth $6,804.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The most number of times this game was played in any season was 22.
  • Bonkers has never been played for a car.

Other uses[edit | edit source]

  • As part of a promotion by CBS (which is partners with Warner Bros. on another venture, the CW network) to promote Drew Carey as the show's new host, the Bonkers prop was brought to The Ellen DeGeneres Show for a promotional event during DeGeneres' interview with Carey.

International versions[edit | edit source]

  • On the Netherlands Cash & Carlo, it was played under the title "Hurry Up" (no translation).
  • On the Vietnamese Hãy Chọn Giá Đúng, the game was titled "Đếm Ngược" (Countdown). However, the game had some different rules: The contestant has 60 seconds (instead of just 30) to put the chips on the board, however, the distance between the board and the button is further. Sometimes the game has five-digit-prices, in this case, the first digit is given correctly. They revealed prices like the former reveal that was only used during the first Bonkers playing. Also, in Vietnam the incorrect price has all digits from 0-9, and one contestant (shown here) put "lower than 0" from the beginning until time's up.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

To view the images, click here.

YouTube Links[edit | edit source]

Bonkers went Bonkers (October 17, 2002, #2264K)
A Perfect Bonkers Win from 2005! (May 25, 2005, #3293K)
A Bonkers Win in Two Tries and Five Seconds Left! (March 20, 2007, #3922K)
A Perfect Bonkers Win from 2008! (September 24, 2008, #4433K)
A Perfect Bonkers Win from 2013! (January 11, 2013, #6175K, aired out of order on October 19, 2012)
A Last Second Bonkers Win from 2013! (February 1, 2013, #6205K, aired out of order January 11, 2013)
Another Perfect Bonkers Win! (January 31, 2014, #6595K)
A Last Second Bonkers Win! (October 14, 2014, #6842K, aired out of order on October 13)
Another Perfect Bonkers Win! (November 7, 2014, #6875K)


2000s Pricing Games
Flip Flop | Triple Play | That's Too Much! | Bonkers | Pass the Buck | Step Up | On the Spot | Time is Money | Coming or Going | ½ Off | Pocket ¢hange | Balance Game (2) | Stack the Deck | More or Less | Gas Money
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