TV’s Crowning Moment of Awesome

In thirty-eight years, The Price is Right never had a contestant guess the exact value of prizes in the Showcase showdown. Until Terry Kniess outsmarted everyone—and changed everything.

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  1. Terry Kniess has prepared. Over the back of the living-room couch, he’s draped the yellow T-shirts he and his wife, Linda, wore that fateful morning on The Price Is Right. Hers has a photograph of their beloved departed Maltese on the front: “This is my Krystal and she was spayed,” it reads. “Is your pet spayed or neutered?” Host Drew Carey’s signature is on the back. Terry’s shirt is simpler, and it’s unsigned: “Las Vegas loves The Price Is Right.” On the coffee table, he’s laid out the iconic name tags he and Linda were given, as well as their green seat assignments for the first of two tapings on September 22, 2008, in the Bob Barker Studio at CBS’s Television City: 004 and 005—right down in front, immediately to the left of the four podiums on Contestant’s Row. He has the giant white cue card that a stagehand held up—TERRY KNIESS—because most contestants can’t hear announcer Rich Fields telling them to come on down above the sound of the crowd. (Terry couldn’t.) He also has the operating instructions for the Big Green Egg, “The World’s Best Smoker and Grill,” which Terry won with a perfect bid of $1,175 from Contestant’s Row. It’s by the pool out back, and Terry agrees that it’s awesome. He has Linda’s passport out, just in case, and their marriage certificate, dated April 7, 1972. “I know I would ask to see it,” he says. He turns over the back of the giant white cue card to show the meticulous notes he jotted down after the show, including his final take—actual retail pr...

Originally published in Esquire, July 2010