Like Rod Wilson says, “We ought to all take a break on the 22nd and watch ‘The Price is Right’!”
That Wednesday this month, the long-running television game show will feature red-headed Rod as one of the lucky contestants who got on stage and competed.
And that’s as far as that portion of this interview with a still-excited Rod went. “We went through four hours of interviews and signing legal releases and a no-disclosure agreement before we even got into the studio,” advised the affable Rod.
Rod is a familiar, very tall sight around the county. He’s been affiliated with the Nelson Spaulding Community Clearinghouse since he arrived here from his hometown of Seymour in 2007. And, for the record, he stands about 6-5, 6-6 in his stocking feet.
He was out in California for a family vacation, and, having lived in that state for nine years before returning to Indiana in 1989, he knew exactly what he wanted to do, what he wanted to see and where he wanted to go. “I definitely wanted to go on the ‘Price is Right.’ Love the show, really like the host Drew Carey,” Rod said. His sister was a contestant back in the mid-80s while on her honeymoon. She won a player piano and a microwave oven.
“We got our plane and ‘Price is Right’ (PIR) tickets six months ago. As long as you’re in (the theater) line at the right time, your ticket guarantees you a seat,” he explained. To prepare to go to PIR, he and family members wore bright gold-colored shirts made by his sister that bore the words, “Just Say Rod Wilson Come On Down!” How prophetic!
“Every time the producers and staff looked at our group, we yelled and screamed like crazy people. Just what they wanted!” he laughed.
Every member of the audience also got a chance to have his or her photo taken on stage near the big wheel. That’s the wheel that all of the day’s individual contestants spin and try to get a total as close to $1 as possible without going over. Two finalists are winnowed out through the process to compete in the final minutes of the show for the showcase prizes, which can be combinations of cars, boats, RVs, expensive vacations, cash prizes and the like.
Those interested in being on stage were asked a question or two while they were in line. He was asked where he lived and what he did. “I told him Scottsburg and that I worked for a non-profit helping people in poverty,” Rod recalled. The man smiled broadly, and Rod was told afterward that producers were interested in getting him on stage.
Therein lays another story.
“When they called my name, I stood up, and I think the upper part of my body wanted to move faster than the lower part. Long story short, I fell and dislocated my hip. I’m sure the TV shot will see me get up and then disappear for a little bit and then reappear and hobble to the contestant line. I was in a lot of pain,” he said.
Asked by staff if he’d like to go to the hospital, Rod emphatically declared no. “Absolutely not! I wasn’t going to miss this!” he remarked.
In pain or not, he won the preliminary “Contestants’ Row” game and got on stage. He played a game called “Range Finder,” in which he had to stop within $150 of the value of an item shown to him.
“And that’s all I can say, except I’m glad the game I played was simple! You’ll have to watch on March 22 at 11 a.m. on the CBS affiliate (WLKY, Channel 32 on non-cable TVs) to see what happens. I can only say I enjoyed myself thoroughly, and I do hope the whole town shuts down, and everybody watches. I haven’t seen the tape myself. I can imagine what my fall looks like,” he reflected.
Even Drew Carey was concerned about his condition. Carey came over to Rod during a commercial break and asked him how he was. “I told him I wasn’t leaving, and Drew said, ‘That’s great! Ratings for this show will be through the roof when they see you fall!’ ”
About that hip of his: He and his family went to the noon shooting of PIR. There’s also an 8 a.m. crowd. They got out of the studio at 6:30 p.m. That night, he was still in a lot of pain, but he didn’t want to go to the hospital. “I was really afraid I’d broken it. That night, I just laid there, thinking my vacation was over. I had rented the convertible we were using for this trip, so no one else could drive, and we’d planned to go up the coast to San Francisco and on to Las Vegas,” Rod related.
Some time the next day, as he was still lying there in pain, he felt – and heard – the hip pop. Instantly, he felt a lot better. It popped again more quietly later, and that’s all it took for the vacation to go on as planned.
“We had a great trip, saw some great sights. I wanted to do as much as I could this time because, with my size and my arthritis, taking even a plane trip is hard on me. I’m not sure if I can ever do that again, so this time it was just do everything,” he exuded.
Lots of his friends know Rod is going to be on television, but no one except Rod knows how it’s all going to turn out.
“You gotta watch the show!” he exclaimed.