Lubbock kindergarten teacher Brenna Lunney, 24, compared winning $19,000 in prizes — including a new car — on game show “The Price is Right” to an “out-of-body experience.”
Married in 2014 in Abilene, she and husband Austin moved to Lubbock when he was accepted at the Texas Tech School of Medicine. Brenna teaches at Roscoe Wilson Elementary School, 2807 25th St.
The Lunneys vacationed in Los Angeles this past summer. Brenna remarked, “I had been to California before, but Austin wanted to see Disneyland and we both hoped to visit the movie studios. That left us with one weekday where we had no plans and could just play.”
Yet she questioned if they could take part in filming “The Price is Right” on their free Wednesday during summer vacation:
* They never applied for tickets in advance. With no guarantee they even could watch filming, they began standing in line at the CBS Studio before 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Everyone, she said, was asked their name, where they were from and their occupation. Also asked afterward how she watched “The Price is Right” as a teacher, Brenna mentioned that she and her husband taped the show daily to watch later.Within 90 minutes, they learned they would be part of a studio audience.
* When ushered to a front row, Brenna’s heart again sank. She said, “Now I really knew we’d never be called, that we had absolutely no chance. Because you cannot exactly ‘Come on down,’ run down the stairs, from the front row. I was literally just a few steps from the stage.”
Never say never.
Brenna said it was very loud in the studio audience and she could not hear her name called. But there also was a sign with each contestant’s name on it, and Austin made her aware of her name on the sign.
“The Price is Right” debuted in 1956 as a television game show hosted by Bill Cullen. It was revamped in 1972 with host Bob Barker; Drew Carey has hosted the program since 2007.
Brenna said she never practiced playing home games before visiting Los Angeles. “My three little sisters and I grew up watching it, competing with one another. Of course, when I was little, if I was at home sick from school, and during summers, my mom let me watch it.”
The game Brenna played was called “Five Price Tags.”
Game rules described online: “The contestant is shown five price tags. One is the correct choice of a car. The contestant is shown four small prizes and must choose whether a price displayed for each one is the accurate price of the item, signifying their guess with True or False. After pricing four small items, the contestant wins the car by correctly selecting its price from among the five price tags, using choices they earned.”
Brenna said she got three true-false answers correct, giving her three guesses to win the 2017 Nissa Sentra S. She didn’t need them all.
Upon later moving to the “showcase,” officials advised her not to attempt to add numbers in her head “because my face would get scrunched up. They advised me instead to listen to advice from the audience. So I did. I went with what the audience was shouting.”
She added, “It truly was surreal. I did not remember a lot of what happened until I watched my show air. I recall they asked me if I wanted to say hi to friends, and I could not remember if I did. I just focused on trying to follow the rules.”
Brenna said she expected actitivity to come to a standstill durng commercial breaks. “But there was not a dull or awkward moment,” she recalled. “Drew Carrey was hilarious; he and an announcer named George (Gray) did stand-up comedy routines for the audience. I didn’t expect it to be so full of energy.”
Taping was in the morning. Meetings with accountants took up her afternoon.
She was told the value of her prizes and given the option of paying California state taxes within a six-month period, or turning down her prizes. She and her husband were able to pay taxes, and keep all her prizes.
Brenna was told she could lose her prizes if show results were revealed before the Nov. 3 air date.She told her mother and sisters, swearing them to secrecy. But when she and Austin stopped to eat at a restaurant next door to the studio, other contestants were there and began shouting out what she won. She begged them to stop, saying, “I could lose it all. I can’t say anything.”
Brenna took a day off work on Friday, Nov. 3, to watch “The Price is Right” with family and friends, and the next Monday drove her new powder white Nissan Sentra to school.
Her students were allowed to write about her experience, and one young girl followed Lunney through the halls at school, telling everyone, “My teacher won a car!”
Lunney said, “Everyone has been no nice, congratulating me.”
It is, she said, “the most exhilarating thing that has happened to me since my marriage.”
But she added, “It looks pretty dumb to have three cars in our driveway.”
Yet they are unsure which car to sell. “Austin and I both have cars, but the new one gets better mileage,” she said.
A repeat won’t happen soon. Lunney explained, “I cannot be on any other game show for 10 years. My name would be red-flagged. But who knows, maybe in 10 years.”