Pay the Rent is the only pricing game that is regularly played for a six-digit cash prize.
- This game is played using six grocery items and offers a top prize of $100,000. The main prop is a "house" with four levels. From lowest to highest, the levels in question are "mailbox," "first floor" ("couch" and "stove"), "second floor" ("TV" and "tub") and "attic" ("safe"). The mailbox and attic levels each contain a position for only one product; the first and second floors each contain positions for two products.
- After being shown the grocery products, the contestant selects an item for the mailbox. Then, the contestant selects two items for the first floor and two for the second floor, leaving the last item for the attic. Each floor must be more expensive than the floor just below it.
- The price of the item in the mailbox is revealed and the contestant is automatically credited with $1,000. If the combined total of the product prices on the first floor is greater than the price of the item in the mailbox, the contestant's winnings increase to $5,000. The contestant's winnings increase to $10,000 if the total prices of the products on the second floor are higher than those on the first floor. If the product in the attic is priced higher than the combined prices for those on the second floor, the contestant wins $100,000. At each level, the contestant risks the money won. Throughout the game, the contestant may choose to stop, taking the money accumulated at any time, because if the floor above is less expensive than the floor just below it, the game ends and the contestant loses everything.
- You must first decide the highest-priced item (which should be put in the attic, since that is the only way to win). While there are 180 total possible combinations, there are only 30 combinations if the correct high-priced item is chosen. The remaining strategy depends on the price structure of the prizes.
- As of June 3, 2016 (#7565K), there have been 150 possible winning combinations in 56 times the game was played. Considering the item values being from 1-6 (low-high), the combination of 4-23-51-6 would have won 27 times (18%), by far the highest successful combination.
- While not "rigged," despite what many people think, the odds of winning are controlled by the price structure. The six times the game was won (April 22, 2013, #6321K, aired out-of-order on April 24, July 3, 2014, #6804K, aired out-of-order on July 4, October 1, 2015, #7224K, February 23, 2018, #8225K, September 17, 2018, #8411K, and December 23, 2020, #9243K, aired out-of-order on December 22), the odds were 33%, 46%, 26% and (due to the high number of winning combinations-- 8, 14, 10 and 11, respectively). Often, there was only one winning combination (3% chance of winning), usually occurring when the item prices are close together. Choosing the 4-23-51-6 combination is best in this situation.
- When a large spread in prices is suspected, the 1-24-35-6 combination is the absolute best choice, having been won two-thirds of the time and is a winning combination in every instance where there were more than four possible winning combinations (eight times).
- Since the previous strategy heavily depends on guessing the correct order of prices, a more practical approach is to put the items in three categories (low, medium, and high). In this case, generally, the best odds are to put a (medium) in the mailbox, a (low) and (medium) on the first floor, a (medium) and (high) on the second floor and a (high) in the attic.
- Regardless of how the groceries are arranged, if the attic grocery is more than the total of the groceries at the second floor, the price is displayed in green. If less than the total, it displayed in red.
- Nobody won $100,000 until after its first 30 playings of the game. The odds had only been 6% of having a winner due to the low number of possible correct combinations given the shopping item prices selected. It was played twelve times in Season 39, eleven times in Season 40, and seven times in Season 41. On April 22, 2013 (#6321K, aired out-of-order on April 24), during Price's "Big Money Week," history was made when contestant Ani Khojasarian of Glendale, California, became the first contestant to "Pay the Rent" (win the $100,000). Her game was the first to have 10 possible correct combinations, a 33% chance of winning (assuming she could correctly guess the high-priced item which was 2.5 times the price of the next lower-priced item). With the $100,000 win, Ani singlehandedly saved "Big Money Week" from being a total wipeout. There was a little less confetti than expected for a $100,000 win on a daytime show.
- On July 3, 2014 (#6804K, aired out-of-order on July 4), Air Force pilot Kevin Van Stone became the second contestant and first male contestant to win $100,000. His game had 14 possible correct combinations, a nearly 46% likelihood he would win (compared to the typical 3-6% odds). With the $100,000 win, The Price Is Right received its second perfect show of Season 42 (its first since January 3, 2014, #6555K, aired out of order on December 31, 2013). To match the 4th of July special, the confetti was changed from all green to red, white, and blue, the colors of the U.S.A..
- On October 1, 2015 (#7224K), The Breast Cancer Awareness special, Nicole Butler became the third contestant to win $100,000. It was the sixth time a game had been played with 6-8 possible correct combinations (20-27% odds). To match the BCA special, the confetti was changed again to all pink.
- On February 23, 2018 (#8225K), during Price's "Big Money Week," contestant Jody Jarmuzek became the fourth winner and the first to play for and win $200,000. The confetti is now all green again.
- On September 17, 2018 (#8411K), during Price's " 47th Season premiere," contestant Rocco R. Santangelo became the fifth winner.
- Two people did get the products in the correct order, but both took the cash buyout of $10,000 (Lance Corporal Zachery Garrison on November 11, 2010, #5304K, and Reeshemah Hall on March 26, 2013, #6282K, aired out-of-order on March 27). In the first case, it was the only possible winning combination.
- For one engaged couples episode, the game was renamed "Pay the Wedding," while for the Spring Break and Back-to-School episodes, it was renamed "Pay the Tuition."
- The price structuring appears to have changed after the first 28 playings. Initially, there was a small spread in the prices from low to high, leaving only one possible solution. In these cases, there would be a very small difference between the attic and second-floor prices (typically 20-50¢), presumably to make a very difficult choice to go for the $100,000 prize.
- Subsequently, the odds were improved increasingly until there was a winner, typically by increasing the spread in prices. After each win, the odds were adjusted back down, with the next win occurring only after the odds were again improved.
- On December 23, 2020 (#9243K, aired out of order on December 22), Roberto Derosa became the sixth winner.
- On September 21, 2021 (#9512K, aired out of order on September 13, originally rescheduled to air on September 14), Pay the Rent was played for $1,000,000, with all cash prizes multiplied by 10. Contestant Robert Strupczewski won $100,000, had he gone for the $1,000,000, he would have been wrong and lost everything up to the third level.
- On December 24, 2021 (#9645K), Tristan Caley became the seventh $100,000 winner.
- The most number of times this game was played in a season was 12 (Season 39).
- The $100,000 sign used to introduce Pay the Rent is made from the numbers in the $1,000,000 sign which were seen behind the audience on the Million Dollar Spectaculars.
- The game is indicated by a green Price down dollar sign which the contestant stands on before the game's reveal.
- February 23, 2018 (#8225K) was the first time Pay the Rent was played for a different cash prize. The cash prize was $200,000 and it was won. However, the staff could not afford to adjust the sign, and it was left as $100,000, making the real surprise even bigger.
- Pay the Rent has many similarities to Step Up:
- Both of them have cash as a prize.
- Both of them involve the idea of having multiple steps (or floors in Pay the Rent) where each step must be more expensive than the next.
- Both of them let the contestant walk away with a sure thing.
- Both games have a low win rate.
- Both games are relatively modern, both debuting in the 21st century.
Appearances Outside of The Price is Right
In the season 2 episode of the action-drama series Scorpion called "The Fast and the Nerdiest" (airdate: February 29, 2016, #218), Sylvester Dodd (played by Ari Stidham) plays this game. Since he's a human calculator, he knew the prices and told Drew where they should go before Drew could even bother explaining the rules to him. This episode also featured cameo appearances by George Gray, Rachel Reynolds and Amber Lancaster as well, although unlike George & Drew both Rachel & Amber respectively don't speak at all.
On December 30, 2017 (or 30 December 2017), the British network Channel 4 aired a special episode hosted by Alan Carr which featured Pay the Rent played for cash prizes of £500, £1,000, £2,000, and £5,000.
- To see a list of solutions the contestants chose-- or in most cases, should've chosen-- to win the $100,000, click here.
- To see greater detail on how the odds work for this game, click here.
To view the gallery, click here.
Pay the Rent Premiere & Painful Loss (September 20, 2010, #5231K)
So close Pay the Rent playing (November 11, 2010, #5304K)
First $100,000 winner (April 22, 2013, #6321K, aired out-of-order on April 24)
Second $100,000 winner (July 3, 2014, #6804K, aired out-of-order on July 4)
Third $100,000 winner (October 1, 2015, #7224K)
Fourth Pay the Rent winner ($200,000) (February 23, 2018, #8225K)
Fifth Pay the Rent winner (September 17, 2018, #8411K)
Sixth Pay the Rent winner (December 22, 2020, #9242K)
Seventh Pay the Rent winner (December 24, 2021, #9645K)
|2010s Pricing Games|
|Rat Race | Pay the Rent | Double Cross | Do The Math | Time is Money (2) | Vend-O-Price | Hot Seat | Gridlock!|