The Showcase Showdown is a special game where three contestants who have won their way up on stage compete for the right play in The Price Is Right Showcase. Contestants spin a "Big Wheel" to determine how close they must come to $1.00 without going over.
The game is played on a carnival wheel dubbed "the Big Wheel", which is filled with various cent values in increments of fives from 5¢ up to $1.00, and in this order (upwards: 5¢, $1.00, 15¢, 80¢, 35¢, 60¢, 20¢, 40¢, 75¢, 55¢, 95¢, 50¢, 85¢, 30¢, 65¢, 10¢, 45¢, 70¢, 25¢, 90¢). The cent values are for gameplay purposes only.
The contestants are lined up by their winnings (lowest to highest). If two contestants winnings are equal, they will have a coin toss backstage to decide who goes first. If the coin shows heads, the first contestant goes first. If the coin shows tails, the second contestant goes first. The object of the game is to come as close as you can to $1.00 without going over. Anything over $1.00 loses the game. Each player will take up to two spins of the wheel, the wheel must go all the way around at least one time, or the contestant in control would get jeered and must do it again. After the first spin, the spinner can choose to either stay with what he/she landed on or spin again, on the second spin, whatever the contestant hits will be added to the first score, and (as previously mentioned) if he/she went over $1.00, that contestant is eliminated from the game, otherwise, that player stands under the scoreboard and waits it out.
When all three contestants have taken their spins, the contestant closest to $1.00 wins the game and goes into the Showcase round. If the first two contestants both go over, the third and final contestant automatically advances to the Showcase but only gets one spin to see if they can get $1.00.
If the game ends in a tie, the tied contestants play a Spin-Off game where each player gets only one spin, and the highest number wins.
While the wheel can both be spun upwards and downwards, only downward spins count.
- Throughout the series, there was a bonus for getting $1.00 exactly (either by hitting the dollar space on the first spin or by making a dollar in two spins).
- When the wheel first premiered, getting $1.00 awarded $1,000. Beginning on December 12, 1978, hitting $1.00 not only won the $1,000, but also a bonus spin. Before starting a bonus spin, the wheel gets set to 5 cents so that it cannot land on a winning prize without making a complete revolution. In the Bonus Spin should the wheel land on a green bonus space (either 5¢ or 15¢), the contestant won an additional $5,000, but if he/she hit the red bonus space ($1.00) in the bonus spin, the winning contestant won an additional $10,000.
- On October 6, 1998 (#0842K), two contestants won $11,000 in the same Showcase Showdown for landing on the red ($1.00) bonus space. It also happened again exactly twice more, on January 11, 1999 (#0971K), and on May 3, 2000 (#1433K) where two contestants won $11,000 in the same Showcase Showdown, making it a total of 3 times it has happened during the Bob Barker Era. The same thing happened again on February 11, 2009 (#4623K) when two contestants landed on the Green sections of the Wheel on an episode with Drew Carey.
- In Drew's second season as host, the cash bonuses were raised to $10,000 for a green bonus space and $25,000 for the red bonus space.
- In the bonus spin, the contestant must get the wheel all the way around, or the spin is void and they do not get another spin. If a contestant hits $1.00 in their Spin-Off spin, they still win $1,000 and a bonus spin. If the tie happens to be between multiple players who scored $1.00, each player's bonus spin also counts as their spin-off. This is disadvantageous for the contestants since two of the three prize-awarding spaces (5¢ and 15¢) also happen to be two of the three worst tie-breaking spaces. Contestants who participate in bonus spin-offs and who don't get the wheel all the way around are allowed to spin again but without the addition of any more bonus money. If the spin-off contestants tie, another spin-off is played but without any bonus money at stake, regardless of whether or not the tie is in terms of prize-awarding spaces.
- For Big Money Week in Season 45, the number on the 45 cent space on the wheel is colored green, and offers a $45,000 bonus should the bonus spin land there. The $45,000 was never won, but there were 2 $1 spins.
- For Dream Car Week in Seasons 44 onward, the contestant wins a car bonus if they spin another $1 on the wheel. Usually, said car is greater than $25,000.
- In honor of Drew's 10th Anniversary in the premiere week of Season 46, if a contestant spun $1 on the wheel, there was a $10,000 bonus instead of the usual $1,000 all week long. For only the season premiere episode in Season 46, a contestant would win $100,000 if they spin another $1 on the wheel, as they would for The Price is Right Salutes weeks. The $100,000 was never won, but the $10,000 was also a bonus for the December 29, 2017 (#8145K) showcase showdowns as part of the Best of 2017 special. After the premiere episode for the rest of the week, the $10,000 prize stayed, but the $1 in the bonus was reverted to $25,000. On September 22, 2017, history was made when the show had given away $80,000 in total (all 3 contestants spinning $1, 2 of the 3 spinning $1 in their bonus spin, the third contestant missing the 5 by an inch).
- For Big Money Week in Seasons 46 and 47, all the bonuses were doubled.
- For the $1,000,000 Spectacular event, the bonuses were multiplied by five. In the Barker era, the bonus spin used to be a $1,000,000 spin, and during the spin, music plays while special effects are projected around the wheel, and all lights are dimmed in the studio to add to the suspense. If a contestant were to land on the $1, then they would win $1,000,000. The 5 and 15 would award $5,000. The $1,000,000 was never won, although one contestant came very, very close! More information can be seen on the $1,000,000 Spectacular  article.
- On October 10, 2016, in honor of CBS celebrating its 30th year as America's favorite daytime TV network, the $1,000 was tripled, with the $1 in the bonus spin awarding $30,000 in which neither of the two has been won.
- For the Season 47 premiere episode and the Best of 2018 special, in honor of the show's 8 Emmy awards, spinning $1 would award $8,000, and $1 on the bonus spin would award $80,000, in which the dollar was never hit throughout both specials.
- For the show's 9,000th episode, getting $1 was worth $9,000, but it wasn't achieved.
History and Trivia
- The Showcase Showdown always had complete separate music cues, played when landing on the dollar in one spin, landing on two numbers that equal the dollar, landing on the green or red sections during the bonus spin, or when a contestant advances to the Showcase. Originally, it was always played to end each showdown. In the middle of the 17th season, the first showdown started ending with the main theme cue so the announcer can talk about how to come to a taping of the show, and the second showdown retains the actual showdown cue when ending. In the middle of the 37th season, however, the host starts informing the contestant how to come to a taping of the show, and the pre-17th season practice returns, with the showdown cue ending both showdowns. The information was then discontinued in the 42nd season.
- Former producer Roger Dobkowitz admitted that the wheel was implemented due to the popularity of the game show Wheel of Fortune (which aired at the same time on competitor NBC, which it would from 1975 to 1989, Wheel has aired in nightly syndication since 1983).
- During the test run Anniversary Week in 1975, the original wheel was a sideways prototype. The sound effect accompanying the spins was a series of beeps (similar to the sounds used for the dollar amounts filling in on the Jeopardy! board from 1984-2008). This was referred to as either the "Rainbow Wheel" or the "Sideways Wheel".
- The font style used for the numbers on the Big Wheel is Pricedown.
- Initially the wheel didn't have to go all the way around for a spin to count. However, after a couple, early playings with contestants doing weak spins to try to get the $1.00 (in particular the infamous Alberto), the rule was changed to requiring the wheel to go all the way around at least one time. Shortly after this rule was implemented, Bob would chide contestants who didn't get the wheel all the way around, leading to jeers from the audience. Drew has discontinued this concept, only asking the contestant to spin again and reminding them to make sure it goes all the way around, though the audience still sometimes jeers and Drew does acknowledge that the audience hates insufficient spins.
- Sometimes, because of the size of the wheel, elderly and disabled contestants have difficulty getting the wheel the whole way around and may request assistance in spinning from the host or even a substitute spinner, frequently the host. When Bob acted as a substitute spinner, he usually used only one arm to spin the wheel, as he held his microphone with the other, but sometimes he didn't get the wheel the whole way around either, and Bob would call it "the most humiliating moment of his life." In later years, he'd ask the contestant he was spinning to hold his microphone so he could use both arms. Drew Carey occasionally acts as substitute spinner, but more frequently assists with spinning, when the contestant is unable to give a sufficient spin alone. His running gag is blaming himself if the wheel lands on a bad number during an assisted spin.
- In a 1992 episode, the Big Wheel seemed unusually tight during a Showcase Showdown round. The first contestant, an elderly woman named Anna was unable to get the wheel the whole way around after two attempts. Bob substituted as a spinner for her, but it took two attempts for him to give a sufficient spin (partly as he used only one arm to spin), and he scored a .90 for Anna. He even remarked that the wheel seemed tight. The second contestant, a younger woman named Karen gave two spins that barely made it the whole way around, landing on .35 and .55 giving Karen a tie score with Anna. The third contestant, a younger man named Alan was able to give two strong spins but went over, thus a spinoff between Anna and Karen was required. Both Bob and Karen's spins barely got the whole way around, and both spins landed on 0.05 requiring a second spinoff. By this time Bob said his arm was too tired to spin the wheel again, and he asked Dian to act as a substitute spinner for Anna. In the final spinoff, Anna advanced to the Showcases.
- On November 8, 1993 (#8961D), during the first Showcase Showdown, a contestant named Jana gets a dollar in two spins (75¢ in her first spin and 25¢ in her second spin), but Bob declares that her total is 95¢. No one in the studio ever notices the mistake.
- On October 21, 1994 (#9315D), a young man named Lawrence struggled with the wheel. As the third contestant to spin, he had to beat 0.65 to advance to the Showcases. His first spin did not get the whole way around, getting jeered by the audience and chided by Bob, as a result. His second spin was sufficient, but landed on 0.60, requiring another spin. His third and fourth spins were both insufficient, prompting the jeering and chiding becoming constant. Bob offered to act as a substitute spinner for Lawrence, who declined. His next spin was sufficient, and landed on 0.40, scoring a dollar and a surprise win of $1,000. Bob told Lawrence not to hold back on his Bonus Spin, as there would be no do-overs if the spin was insufficient. While the Bonus Spin was sufficient, it did not win any additional Bonus, but he did advance to the Showcase.
- On November 10, 2004 (#3043K), a contestant named Michael proposed to his girlfriend, Rosie while spinning the wheel, and he landed on the dollar, winning $1,000. An amazed and touched Bob claimed that if it happened in a movie, people wouldn't believe it could happen, and then Rosie stood up and accepted his proposal. Michael subsequently won the Showcases, and wedding music was played as he placed his engagement ring on Rosie's finger, with Bob presiding.
- Early on, contestants spun the wheel with one hand, with their body facing the audience. When the rule of the wheel needing to go all the way around was implemented, contestants used both hands and faced the wheel to get more momentum in their spins.
- It is an unwritten rule that the wheel must be spun in a downward direction, although several contestants have tried to spin it in an upward direction. The most famous example was from November 30, 1992 (#8601D), when a contestant named Cherish, stepped up and spun the wheel the wrong way. Bob immediately stopped the wheel in mid-spin, chided her for it, and told her to spin it the right way. She did so and ended up getting a dollar on her spin, winning $1,000 (but not winning anything on her bonus spin). Bob joked that all contestants in the future would want to spin the wheel in reverse after that. A lesser-known case was in 1987 where a contestant named Skye attempted to spin it upward but was stopped by Barker who told her only downward spins count. Barker was more relaxed in the earlier scenario, telling Skye, who was a full-blooded Pawnee, "We can't use the old Indian trick, spin it back to the dollar!". Skye chuckled at the remark and redid a downward spin.
- On October 17, 2016 (#7651K), history was made (even though it had happened once before) when all 3 contestants (Manfred, Cathryn, and Jessica) spun a dollar, all winning $1,000 from that. On the 3-way tiebreaker spin-off, Manfred, with an 80 cent spin, moved on to the final Showcase. However, this is nothing compared to the events of Season 46 premiere week, September 20, 2017 (#8013K, aired out-of-order on September 22). During that entire week, the bonus for the initial dollar was $10,000 in honor of Drew's 10 years as host. During the second Showcase Showdown, all three contestants won the bonus (now the third time in history that all three contestants have won the initial dollar), but it doesn't end there. The first two contestants proceeded to BOTH win the $25,000 for spinning the dollar on the bonus spin, and the third contestant barely missed out on the $10,000 for the 5 when he spun a 90 and the pointer stopped. And as if that wasn't enough, that episode had all 6 games won, making a perfect show.
- Former host Bob Barker would always refer to the amount a contestant spun on the wheel as "cents" (ie "you got 45 cents"). However, Drew Carey doesn't use the word "cents", and simply tells the contestant, "you got 45".
- The Showcase Showdown was introduced when the show was expanded to be an hour-long in 1975. Previously, the two contestants who had won the most in prizes automatically moved on to the showcase (a practice continued in episodes of the nighttime version, which was still a half-hour long.)
- If a tie occurred, Barker would often joke "Tell CBS we won't have time to do "The Young and the Restless" today." On a SECOND tie, Barker quipped "Tell them we can't do "The Bold and The Beautiful" either!"
- Another soap opera joke Barker would use is when warning contestants not to overdo the spin is an apocryphal show where a woman spun the wheel so hard the spin carried her away and "she found herself on the set of The Young & the Restless!" In actuality, the wheel is set up ahead of time, and the studio walls are not connected.
- On March 27, 2020, Price's sister show Let's Make a Deal (Brady) had a smaller replica of the Big Wheel as part of Mash-Up Week
- On rare occasions, such as the October 1, 1999 and the May 8, 2007 episodes, the beeper which would sound each time the wheel passed or landed on a space wouldn't work, meaning the audience would cover by saying "beep" each time the wheel passed or landed on a space.
- In Seasons 49 and 50, taped with restrictions in place due to the COVID pandemic, Drew Carey and the contestants practiced social distancing from each other. This led to Carey asking contestants to reset the wheel to the 5 spot for bonus spins, rather than doing it for them as he had before (and as Bob Barker had for the entire time there had been a Showcase Showdown in his tenure as host.)
Behind the Scenes
- When it was time to bring out the big wheel, a wall was brought down to center stage so the audience doesn't see what's happening back there.
- First, the carpet gets rolled out. After that, the big wheel is brought out and sits in front of the carpet. A small vacuum comes out to collect dust that might have gone on the carpet after it was rolled out.
- When the big wheel is brought out and the arrow's pointer points to anything but $1.00, it gets set to $1.00 before lifting the wall to start the Showcase Showdown.
To view the gallery, click here.
Many countries, even those in a 30-minute format, use the same format for the Showcase Showdown, though with slight differences:
- In the first UK version with Leslie Crowther, early episodes had the big wheel for the Showcase Showdown, with contestants winning £500 if they got 100 in one or two spins. For the bonus spin, spinning a blue section (5/15) won £250 extra while getting 100 again won £1,000. The IBA was not impressed with this format due to it being too reliant on luck, so when the second series came around, the game became "Supermarket", where contestants had 15 seconds to pick up to four items that totaled under £20. Whichever player was closest, high or low, would advance to the showcase, with two playing each half. Finally, after that, a new version debuted in 1987 where contestants were being asked questions about products, with the contestants typing in a number for a price, similar to Greed's qualifying questions. The two players closest to the price moved on.
- On the Sky One version with Bob Warman, spinning 100 in one or two spins only got you the extra spin. If you hit 100 on the bonus spin, you won a larger prize, oftentimes a car.
- Subsequent British versions, beginning with the Bruce Forsyth run, in addition of Alan Carr's Epic Gameshow awarded £1,000 with no extra spin, though the first month of Joe Pasquale's version did allow bonus spins, with a car for a prize if you got 100 again. Spinning a one-spin or two-spin total of 100 in 2017 special only earned £100.
- In Australia, only two people played the Showcase Showdown, but otherwise, it remained the same. In Ian Turpie's eras, the prize was a gift valued at about $1,000, while Larry Emdur's runs just had $1,000 cash if you hit 100 in one or two spins, with no bonus spin attached.
- In the first Mexican version, the amounts were the same as the US version from 1978 to 2008, but in pesos, sometimes with 1 Mexican peso awarding a car in the bonus spin. During the 2010 version, the 5 awarded M$5,000, but 15 awarded M$15,000, with the peso awarding a car. Much like in America, on the bonus spin, the wheel is set to 5 before the contestant takes the spin.
- On Canada's Price Is Right: À vous de jouer, 1,000$ was awarded for getting 1$ in a single spin, while 500$ was awarded for doing it in two. Also, the bonus spins awarded 2,500$ for landing on the green sections, and 5,000$ for 1$.
- When Germany first began, the prize was DM1,000 (~€500) for getting 100 in one spin, but later, it became either a car or motorcycle for getting the said number. The format's rules are similar to what the US Gameshow Marathon would later use in 2006, however, unlike that, only one spin was permitted to each contestant, so going over 100 wasn't possible. Of note is that if two people won their pricing game, and one lost, no Showcase Showdown was played-- the two that won their games automatically went to the showcase. Near the end of the original German-run, the show used the American theme and Come On Down! music, with the 1972-1976 opening theme when the wheel was being spun.
- In the Netherlands, during Carlo Boszhard's run, the prize was €1,000 for scoring 100 in one or two spins, with a bonus of €10,000 if you got 100 again in the bonus spin.
- In Vietnam:
- The normal prize for landing on 100 in one spin, or a total of two spins, is 1,000,000 VND (about US$43). If the contestant's score is not 100, they get a consolation prize of 1,000 VND multiplies the points they get. Also, if the contestant goes over 100 points after two spins, they will not immediately lose, instead, their final score will be their total spin value minus 100 (only the spin points that went over 100 is counted).
- During the first Showcase Showdown, one contestant randomly selects one of two cards, one of them has the logo of the show, the other card has a random emoji. If that contestant manages to choose the card with the logo of the show, the increased cash prize of 10,000,000 VND is applied and awarded to the first contestant to land on 100 on their first spin that day. This increased cash prize is applied to all four contestants that play Showcase Showdown on the same day, but can only be awarded once per show.
Some versions use the same format as what was used from 1975 to 1978 in America, with the only difference being in prizes:
- Italy - ₤1,000,000 (~€500)
- Spain - ₧100,000 (~€600), later €1,000. To win the bonus, you had to get 100 in one spin only. (Carlos Lozano era)
- Portugal - €100 (Fernando Mendes eras)
- France - No bonus until 1995. Beginning with that year, awarded a prize of 1,000F (~€150) if you got 100, with the prize going up by whatever number a player spun on the wheel.
- Finland - Mk 1,000 (~€170)
- Canada (Misez Juste) - Initially, no bonus, later 1,000$ if you got 100 in one or two spins.
- Thailand - ฿10,000 (about US$330) if a 100 is achieved in one spin and ฿5,000 (about US$165) if a 100 is achieved in two spins.
- Indonesia - Rp. 5,000,000 (about US$382) if a 100 is achieved in one spin and Rp. 1,000,000 (about US$76) if a 100 is achieved in two spins.
Bob Barker's Tenure
The Audience Beeps
Backwards Spin and a $1.00 from Season 20 in 1992
Backwards Spin from Season 28 in 2000
Backwards Spin from Season 29 in 2001
Backwards Spin from Season 30 in 2002
Backwards Spin from Season 33 in 2005
3 $1.00 Spinners in one Segment
Backwards Spin and a $1.00
2 $11,000 winners in the same Showcase Showdown
$11,000 winner from season 34
Another $11,000 winner from season 34
$11,000 won from season 35
$11,000 again from season 35
$11,000 yet again from season 35
Drew Carey's Tenure
First $26,000 winner From the Showcase Showdown
More Triple Spin-offs
Two $11,000 Winners
$37,000 Showcase Showdown (A $26,000 Winner and an $11,000 Winner)
Memorable history of Showcase Showdown (9/22/2017) (originally scheduled for 9/20, #8013K)