Plinko is the most popular pricing game on The Price is Right. Debuting on January 3, 1983 and created by the late Frank Wayne, it is played for a cash prize of up to $50,000 and also awards prizes valued under $100. It is frequently said to be the most famous of all the pricing games.
How the Game is playedEdit
- The contestant is given one round flat disc, called a Plinko chip, and can earn up to four more chips using small prizes, for a total of five chips. The small prizes are presented one at a time, each bearing a two-digit price with one of the digits incorrect. The contestant must decide which digit is correct to win another Plinko chip as well as the small prize.
- The contestant then takes the chips they have earned up a set of stairs to the top of the Plinko board. The board is made up of a field of pegs, with each row offset from the previous row. At the bottom of the board are nine slots marked symmetrically with the values (from outside to the single center slot) $100, $500, $1,000, $0, $10,000.
- One at a time, the contestant lays each Plinko chip flat against the top of the board and releases it. As the chip falls, it is deflected by pegs, making it virtually impossible to predict where the chips will land. In addition, the sides of the board are in a zigzag pattern which also allows the chips to ricochet back toward the center. The contestant wins whatever money corresponds with the slot the chip lands in, with a running total displayed on a scoreboard next to the Plinko board.
- If a chip becomes stuck on the board, it is knocked free; the drop does not count and the chip is returned to the contestant to drop again. When a chip is stuck above arm's length, the host will usually use a long stick to dislodge the chip. Barker referred to the stick as his "Trusty Plinko Stick," while current host Drew Carey has referred to it as just the "Plinko stick" or "Plinko wand." On Doug Davidson's version, he would whack the stick against the board in a futile effort to get the chip down instead of simply dislodging it.
- Contestants cannot stop and quit with any money after dropping any Plinko chips; contestants must drop each Plinko chip and the total amount accumulates after each drop as stated above.
- Plinko made it's debut on January 3, 1983 (#4741D). Host Bob Barker asks "Now, What can Judy (Rainhour) win?" to which a spinning disco ball with "$25,000" labeled lowered, and announcer Johnny Olson responds by saying "A chance to win up to $25,000 in cash!". At the time of its debut, Plinko's $25,000 top prize was the largest ever offered on The Price Is Right at the time, as Barker noted on the game's much-promoted debut and the largest allowed under CBS regulations, as the network upped the winnings limit in $25,000 increments, first to $50,000 in 1984, then $75,000 in 1986, then $100,000 in 1990 and finally $125,000 in 1992 (before CBS permanently abolished the limit on game show winnings altogether by the mid-1990s).
- During Plinko's first playing, a spinning disco ball with "$25,000" labeled around it was lowered from the ceiling. On January 11, 1983 (#4752D), the game's second playing, the "Plinko" sign was introduced. The sign was originally placed in the back of the audience (a practice that would be resurrected in the short-lived 1994 syndicated version). On January 5, 1984 (#5145D), the sign was permanently moved to the Turntable, where it remained until December 5, 2002 (#2334K), when it was replaced with a "$50,000" graphic ("$100,000" primetime) on screen; although the Plinko sign was absent from November 11, 1992 (#8573D) to June 18, 1993 (#8875D) and instead also using either a "$25,000" graphic or no graphic at all. On September 22, 2015 (#7212K), the disco ball introduction was revived.
- When the game debuted, the cue music they played to introduce it was the same one that is normally heard in Grand Game. From January 11, 1983 (#4752D, the game's second playing) until April 25, 1995 (#9562D), the first regular music sting combined the harps from Golden Road and Punch-A-Bunch with a famous prize cue titled "The Cats"; two subsequent harp stingers (introduced on May 3, 1995, #9573D, and November 26, 1997, #0543K, respectively) were also used to precede "The Cats." Since January 7, 2003 (#2382K), only the harps have been used to introduce the game.
- For Plinko's first playing only, different "WIN!" cards were used for its small prizes. When a digit in the price of a prize was guessed correctly, the panels on the front of its corresponding podium were flipped over twice, first to reveal the word "WIN!" (which was written diagonally on a white card) along with a Plinko chip, and then again to reveal the actual price. Currently, the panels are flipped over only once, to reveal either a "WIN!" card and the actual price with a Plinko chip for a correct guess, or the actual price on two red cards if the guess is wrong.
- When first introduced, the front of the Plinko board was open, meaning that the chips were occasionally able to bounce off the board and out onto the stage and had to be replayed. To remedy this problem, a Plexiglas cover was placed over the board in Fall 1991. That, too, became a problem when chips got stuck and had to be retrieved. One very notable incident involved a stuck Plinko chip, as well as having trouble retrieving it, occurred on January 16, 1992 (#8264D) when contestant Jennifer Hardy dropped her last Plinko chip as it got stuck on the right-hand side of the board and it landed where neither Bob Barker nor Janice Pennington (who tried to reach for the chip underneath the Plexiglas) could retrieve it, then Jennifer, who can't contain her excitement & enthusiasm, begins jumping up and down, rattling the Plinko board to which Bob shouts "Jennifer, you're gonna break-Jennifer !!! Stop !!! Jennifer, you're gonna break my Plinko game !". Janice (after taking off her bracelet & handing it over to Bob) again tries to reach for the stuck Plinko chip and this time around she's successful (the contestant won $6,600). The board's Plexiglas cover, used since 1994, features triangular grid-shaped holes that prevent chips from flying out and still allows stuck chips to be knocked loose through the grid.
- The only value on the board which has changed since the game was introduced is the center slot. It began at $5,000, with a top prize of $25,000 and remained as such until October 5, 1998 (#0841K). The slot was increased to $10,000 for the first time during the show's 25th Anniversary Special on August 23, 1996 (#0001S) and was subsequently made permanent on October 15, 1998 (#0854K).
- 1994's syndicated The New Price is Right did not use the board layout described above. Most episodes featured a layout (from outside to center): $2,500, $500, $1,000, $0, $5,000. On the first episode that featured Plinko, the game had a layout of $2,500, $1,000, $0, $5,000, $0. The top prize was still $25,000, as on the daytime show. The 1994 syndicated version also used the "higher/lower" format for the small prizes instead of the regular CBS format, since it used three-digit prizes. The highest amount won in this version was $16,500.
- For the The Price Is Right Live! stage show, the layout on either side is $50, $100, $200, $0, $500, making for a top prize of $2,500.
- On May 17, 2002 (#001SP), the center slot has doubled to $20,000 on primetime specials, with a top prize of $100,000 (a practice that would be included on both the Million Dollar Spectaculars and Game Show Marathon).
- On April 4, 2008 (#028SP, aired out of order on March 7) and May 14, 2008 (#032SP, aired out of order on May 7), both Million Dollar Spectaculars since Drew Carey became host, a $1,000,000 bonus was offered if a contestant could get a bonus golden chip in the $20,000 slot. The golden chip was won if a contestant could first get at least $60,000 (three regular chips in the $20,000 slot) during the normal gameplay. Sadly, neither playing featured such a win condition.
- The Plinko board is often used by RTL Group-licensed lottery promotions, CBS affiliates and Ubisoft to promote the show. For the promotions, two fishing lines (one on each side of the board, hanging from the side down towards the center slot) are used to "rig" the game, so the dropped chip would always land in the $10,000 slot. After a promotional advertisement for the video game was taped, the wires were mistakenly left in place for the July 22, 2008 1:00pm taping of The Price is Right. As contestant Nichole Runge was playing the game, three consecutive chips she dropped landed in the $10,000 slot. As the fourth chip was being dropped, co-producer Adam Sandler (not to be confused with the actor) realized that the wires were still in place and stopped the chip as it bounced down the board, informing Carey, the show's new host, of the situation. The wires were removed and the entire segment was re-shot for the show from the point where Nichole began dropping chips. CBS Standards and Practices allowed Nichole to keep the $30,000 won prior to the removal of the wires as well as the money won with the five chips she dropped after the mistake had been corrected. However, the segment that aired (when the show was originally scheduled to air on October 6, 2008, #4451K, and aired out-of-order on December 5) did not reference the mistake or the amount of money won prior to the removal of the wires.
- Plinko’s first $10,000 slot had a large “10” with three compressed zeroes underneath both numbers. In late 2002, a different $10,000 graphic was introduced with a smaller “10” and three zeroes similar in size to the previous $5,000-slot. The original bigger “10” graphic was brought back on May 13, 2010 (#5164K).
- On April 23-27, 2012 (#592xK, aired out of order on April 9-13), for Price’s "Publisher's Clearing House Week," Plinko was played for $50,000, but with a twist: the final chip would be worth $20,000 instead of the usual $10,000 if it is hit; it would start at $20,000 and roll over each day it is not hit. If no one hit the $20,000 by Friday's show, the winner of Friday's Showcase would win a $25,000 bonus in addition to whatever prizes they won in the Showcase. Summer Johnson, who appeared as a contestant on Monday's show, was the only contestant to win the $20,000 bonus.
- On April 26, 2013 (#6325K) and September 23, 2013 (#6421K, aired out-of-order on October 18, originally rescheduled to air on October 14), for Price’s "Big Money Week," Plinko was played for $500,000, with a $100000 slot replacing the normal $10000 center slot. Both Samantha Hawley and Clora Hicks won four chips total (three for each pricing item they won, plus the one chip they started with). Samantha only won $1,600 (hitting $500, $0, $100 and $1,000, respectively), while Clora won only $2,000 (hitting $0, $500, $1,000 and $500, respectively).
- On October 4, 2013 (#6435K, aired out-of-order on September 27), The Price is Right aired a very special episode in which Plinko was the only game played all show. In addition to cash prizes up to $50,000, regular prizes were also up for grabs. For pictures from the 30th anniversary special, click here.
- On November 20, 2014 (#6894K, aired out-of-order on November 13), October 12, 2015 (#7241K, aired out-of-order on October 15, originally rescheduled to air on October 13), October 25, 2016 and February 20, 2018 (#8222K) during Price’s "Big Money Week," Plinko was played once again, this time for $1,000,000, with a $200,000 slot replacing the normal $10,000 center slot (this marked only the fourth time in Price history that Plinko was played for $1,000,000; the first time it was played on a non-"Big Money Week" was during a $1,000,000 Spectacular in 2008). Eric Cardenas won three chips total (two for each item he won, plus the one chip he started with), but only won $600 (hitting $0, $500 and $100, respectively), while Mary Eklund won five chips total (four for each item she won, plus the one chip she started with), but only won $2,100 (hitting $1,000, $1,000, $0, $100 and $0, respectively), Vanessa Hunt won four chips total (three for each item she won, plus the one chip she started with), but only won $1,000 (hitting $0, $1,000 and $0) and Shannon McCarthy won three chips total (two for each item she won, plus the one chip she started with), but only won $5,000 (hitting $2,500, $2,500 and $0, respectively). Go to the Million Dollar Plinko page for proof.
- On February 19, 2015 (#7014K), during #UDecide week, Plinko replaced the $100 slots with two additional $10,000 slots. On that playing, $13,000 was won in five chips, with one chip landing in the center slot.
- On April 1, 2015, Plinko was featured on Let's Make a Deal as part of an April Fools' joke. The contestant who played earned $1,600.
- On May 24, 2016 (#035SP), as part of the episode's Big Brother theme, Plinko replaced the $100 slot; it became the $500 slot from the $100 slot; the $500 slot became the $1,000 slot and the $1,000 slot became the $2,500 slot. On the February 3, 2017 (#7795K) episode of the daytime show, that same layout was used. It is believed that this will become permanent for the daytime show.
- On October 10, 2016 (#7641K), as part of CBS 30 Years at #1 special, Plinko was played for $150,000, with the $10,000 slot tripled to $30,000 (the $0 slots were left as-is).
- On February 3, 2017 (#7795K), the values first seen on May 24, 2016 (#035SP) were used.
- On May 24, 2017 (#7953K, aired out-of-order on May 25), Ryan Belz made a Plinko record of $31,500 (hitting $10,000, $1,000, $10,000, $500 and $10,000, respectively).
- On September 18, 2017 (#8011K), on the Season 46 premiere which was also Drew's 10th Anniversary, a bonus of $10,000 was up for grabs. To win the $10,000 bonus, the contestant had to land at least one chip in the $10,000 slot. Rodgrick Hicknan did that on his last chip and won $21,000 total.
- On October 2, 2017 (#8031K), the center slot was doubled to $20,000 on Breast Cancer Awareness Special, with a top prize of $100,000 and the values the same from February 3, with the $100 slots changed to $500, the $500 slots changed to $1,000 and the $1,000 slots changed to $2,500.
- On January 3, 2018 (#8153K), to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the first playing of Plinko, the center slot was changed to $35,000, making the potential top prize $175,000. Additionally, the $1,000 and $100 slots were changed to $3,500, while the $500 slots were changed to $350 (the $0 slots were left as-is). Ryan Glass won four chips total (three for each item he won, plus the one chip he started with) and won $39,200 (hitting $3,500, $35,000, $350 and $350, respectively).
- On April 20, 2018 (#8305K), contestant Rapunzel Ware played with a young Price is Right superfan, Jackson Woodworth, live via video with his mother Brianna. Whatever Rapunzel won, Jackson won the same equivalent as her. Rapunzel won $2,600, so Jackson won $2,600 as well.
- On December 21, 2018 (#8545K), the center slot is five times to $50,000 with a top prize of $250,000 and the values the same from October 2, 2017, with the $100 slots changed to $500, the $500 slots changed to $1,000 and the $1,000 slots changed to $2,500.
- Barker Era ($5,000 slot): The most anyone has ever won in Plinko in the Barker Era with the $5,000 slot on the daytime show is $21,000 on November 30, 1990 (#7815D), with the $5,000 slot being hit four times. This also happened to be the closest possible playing to a full win in the game's history (which would be $42,000 with the current slot values or $84,000 in primetime).
- Barker Era ($10,000 slot): The most anyone has ever won in Plinko in the Barker Era with the $10,000 slot is Kelly who won $23,000 on September 17, 2001 (#1861K, aired out-of-order on September 24), with the $10,000 slot being hit twice.
- Barker Era ($20,000 slot, primetime): The most anyone has ever won Plinko on the primetime show in the Barker era is Ryan who won $40,000 on June 14, 2002 (#004SP, aired out-of-order on June 13), The Price is Right Salutes U.S. Army special, with the $20,000 slot being hit twice.
- Carey Era ($10,000 slot, daytime): The most anyone has ever won in Plinko on the daytime show is Ryan Belz who won $31,500 on May 24, 2017 (#7953K, aired out-of-order on May 25), with three Plinko chips landing in the $10,000 slot.
- Carey Era (middle slot greater than $10,000, daytime:) The most money ever won when the middle slot was more than $10,000 was $39,200 on January 3, 2018 (#8153K), the 35th anniversary of the first playing of Plinko, hence the middle slot changed to $35,000, and other slots changed to either $350 or $3,500. Ryan Glass ended up hitting the $35,000 slot once, one of the $3,500 slots and both of the $350 slots and ended with a total of $39.200.
- Carey Era ($20,000 slot, primetime): The most anyone has ever won in Plinko is Lindsay Dykstra who won $41,000 on the May 14, 2008 (#032SP, aired out-of-order on May 7) Million Dollar Spectacular, with the $20,000 slot being hit twice.
- In the entire history of Plinko, there have been 11 Plinko wipeouts-- March 14, 1995 (#9502D), March 26, 1996 (#9912D, the contestant in this instance named Margie Meter won all five chips and all five landed in the $0 slot), December 10, 2003 (#2713K), March 18, 2008 (#4252K), June 10, 2011 (#5605K) (the contestant in this instance named John Slade dropped their lone chip in the $0 slot)-- February 1, 2012 (#5823K), April 27, 2012 (#5945K, aired out-of-order on April 13), May 9, 2012 (#5963K), October 22, 2012 (#6081K, aired out-of-order on October 1), October 4, 2013 (#6435K, aired out-of-order on September 27) (as part of the episode's all-Plinko show) and November 22, 2013 (#6505K, aired out-of-order on November 19).
- Plinko remains the only game in Price is Right history to have never been officially won; a "win" technically means winning the highest announced prize. Most fans consider hitting the middle slot once a win, but Bob/Drew won't call it a perfect show if all five other games are won and Plinko is played and the middle slot isn't hit all five times.
1st Look, January 3, 1983 (#4741D)-January 16, 1991 (#7873D)Edit
Premiere Playing (January 3, 1983, #4741D)Edit
A $6,600 Primetime Win (September 4, 1986, #004P)Edit
2nd Look, February 1, 1991 (#7895D)-August 23, 2010 (#5221K, aired out-of-order on August 27)Edit
A Then-Record Breaking $23,000 Win from the Season 30 Premiere (September 17, 2001, #1861K, aired out of order on September 24)Edit
Final Playing with Bob Barker (June 15, 2007, #4035K)Edit
First Playing with Drew Carey (October 15, 2007, #4041K, aired out of order on October 16)Edit
Lindsey's $41,000 Primetime Win (May 14, 2008, #032SP, aired out of order on May 7)Edit
Current Look (September 20, 2010-present, #5231K)Edit
For pictures of the $1,000,000 Plinko playings, click here.