By Sean Walker
Loud crowds cheered as they voiced their desires to “come on down.” A 77-year-old Orem woman stood in the back with her two daughters, hoping and praying she would get the chance to participate in her favorite show.
Finally, the voice came.
“Joyce Whipple, come on down,” said the announcer over the loudspeaker.
Whipple”s immediate reaction was uncertainty, as she worked to capture what was said.
“When they said ”Joyce Whipple, come on down,” my kids heard it better than I did,” Whipple said. “At first, I was just excited to be there; but immediately, you have to be ready to play, so I was always looking at my kids. Many times, I didn”t even know what I was bidding on, because you have to be ready to bid when the camera is on you, so I would look at them to get the price that I should bid, and I didn”t want my back to be to the camera.”
Whipple had a long-time wish fulfilled Jan. 9, as she was selected to play “The Price is Right,” the CBS daytime game show made famous by Bob Barker and his host of supermodel prize presenters. Even though she wasn”t able to meet Barker, Whipple says that she was equally excited to shake the hand of current host Drew Carey.
“We had more fun with Drew than what we would have had if Bob Barker had been there,” Whipple said.
Whipple”s two daughters, Kolleen Howe of Pleasant Grove and Kayelynne Terris of Lindon, accompanied her. Howe”s husband, Ed, was also among the fans gathered to cheer on the Utah native. She proudly sported her blue BYU shirt for Carey and the excited audience represented one of the best parts of the experience.
“I”m so glad I got to represent BYU,” Whipple said.
Although Whipple narrowly missed receiving an extra $500 for bidding an exact amount, she was able to make it up on stage in time to play a game for a brand new Pontiac G6.
After losing the chance for the car, Whipple made up for it by winning the Showcase Showdown against a Salt Lake City resident.
The day ended as she came home with an $8,000 bedroom set, a new kitchen rack, a set of traveler”s books and a trip for two to Bangkok.
Whipple said she doesn”t have a need for the king-size bed or the set, since she is 77 and a widow. After speaking with another daughter, representatives at Ashley Furniture in Salt Lake City traded her $8,000 worth of living room furniture for the bedroom set, something she says she desperately needed.
“That”s $20,000 dollars worth of stuff – that”s not bad,” Terris said. “If she had won the car, or even the $500 and had played a different game, she probably wouldn”t have been able to spin the wheel last [and win the challenge]. Maybe she wouldn”t have made it into the showdown, so it all worked out.”
Whipple”s fan club included her family members and a small throng of students from UCLA who, although disappointed at the Bruin”s recent loss in the Las Vegas Bowl, were still proud to cheer on their Mountain West friend. Many fans even referred to her as their “cute little grandma contestant.”
Back home, Whipple”s real life grandchildren were equally excited when they found out grandma had won. After keeping the secret from the rest of the family for six weeks, they formally unveiled the winnings at a party last Wednesday. Each of Whipple”s 23 grandchildren, and even some of her 11 great-grandchildren, took a turn hugging grandma after successively discovering her winnings on the show.
“I can”t believe it; I have a rich grandma,” 8-year-old grandson Derek Howe said.