The Price is Right on Friday morning gets an infusion of Toledo pride thanks to Dale Kwapich.
Wearing a "Got Pierogi?" shirt, dancing the polka with another contestant during a commercial break, and prompting host Drew Carey to regale the crowd with a rendition of "Who Stole the Keeshka?" the 69-year-old Mr. Kwapich turned his appearance on the long-running, popular game show into a celebration of T-Town.
He also walked away with some decent prizes during that June 18 appearance, but he's obligated by a confidentiality agreement not to reveal what they are until after the show airs.
The Price is Right is on WTOL-TV, Channel 11, at 11 a.m. weekdays.
"It was a real, real rewarding experience. I wish everyone could feel like I did during that short half hour," Mr. Kwapich said.
"If that was my 15 minutes of fame, then I took advantage it. For four or five days I was flying. I accomplished something that a lot of people saw. I can cut the grass and I know I did a good job, but nobody sits there and applauds it."
In June, he and his wife, Kathy, his sister, Pam Crabtree, and her husband, Fred Crabtree, embarked on a cross-country road trip, timed so they could attend a taping of The Price is Right in Los Angeles. Contestants stand in a long line before getting into the studio — about 300 people are in the audience for each taping — and show representatives conduct brief interviews with each person to determine whether they might receive the iconic call to "Come on down!," Mr. Kwapich said.
The person spent a little extra time with him and folks around him thought that he might get selected. Sure enough, after a third person was eliminated in the opening rounds, Mr. Kwapich, a retired auto repairman, got the call.
Was he surprised?
"Oh, God, yes. My mouth flew open and I looked at my wife and I didn't know what to do and then the lady behind me gave me a kiss. Then I almost tripped and I ran down the aisle and everyone's giving you high fives. Then Drew asks you where you're from and I think I got that right."
From that point on it was blur, but he had fun with it. He and the gregarious Carey hit it off right away and the comedian/host sang the traditional Polish song "Who Stole the Keeshka" during one of the breaks and Mr. Kwapich grabbed one of the other contestants and did some polka dancing with her during another commercial interruption.
He said he's not sure if footage of them cutting up will make the final show, but it was all good fun.
As for his actual competition, thanks to an audience member, Mr. Kwapich —who confessed he rarely ever watched The Price Is Right — did pretty well. The games on the show revolve around being able to accurately select the prices of various items, and on his first try Mr. Kwapich said he was stumped, but he looked into the audience and a man mouthed a bid to him, which he accepted.
"There was individual who looked very sincere to me, a young man, who said, ‘Bid a thousand dollars' and I had no inkling [the items] were worth that much," he said.
Eventually he moved on to win an item worth about $9,000 and was then eliminated when he over-bid for a larger prize package. Contestants have to pay the taxes on their winnings right away, so if it's something they really don't want, they can pass on receiving it to avoid the taxes. Mr. Kwapich said he turned one prize back in, but accepted the other, which will be delivered to his home about three months after the show airs.
Of course he's been telling all his friends to watch and he's excited about the whole experience.
"It was great. I saw the laughter on the people's faces and the cheering ..." he said. "I was glad I could do that and have a ball doing it."
Contact Rod Lockwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6159.