USC student is big winner on game show

Freshman Alex Banayan won more than $30,000 worth of prizes on The Price is Right thanks to “pure luck.”

“It’s totally a funny story,” he said. “On the Monday of finals week two days before my finals, USC Hillel sent out a Facebook message saying they had some tickets for The Price is Right. So I said, ‘What the heck? I’ll go, I’ll get the tickets.’”

Jackpot · Freshman Alex Banayan decided to attend The Price is Right on a whim after receiving a Facebook messaged from USC Hillel. - Photo courtesy of Alex Banayan

In an episode that aired Monday, Banayan won a billiard table, a VIP trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain, a five-day trip to Florida that includes a zero-gravity flight and an 18-foot sailboat — collectively worth $32,288.

Banayan said that when he was called down, he did not even know how to play the game.

“I had to ask people in the audience, ‘How do you play?’ I had to ask Drew Carey during the commercial break how to play the Showcase,” Banayan said. “The audience would laugh at me and yell at me because I was the 18-year-old kid who didn’t know how to play The Price is Right. I was winning each round by pure luck.”

In the One Bid first round, he guessed that a billiard table priced at $1,100 was worth $800. He didn’t win in the pricing game, but was entered in the Showcase Showdown, the final round, with a lucky spin.

“I was way under, but everyone just guessed a little over, so they all got out. So I was the only guy that made it on,” he said. “When I was spinning the wheel [to be in the Showcase round], the girl before me got an 80 and I got an 85.”

Banayan narrowly won the Showcase prize — the Six Flags and Florida trips and the boat — guessing they were collectively valued at $30,000.

The woman he was competing against guessed that her $30,332 package was $28,999: a $1,333 difference. Banayan’s package, however, was worth $31,188, a $1,188 difference, which Carey called “very close.”

“During my finals I was sitting there thinking, ‘Why am I taking a final? I just won a boat.’ My brain was all over the place,” Banayan said. “It totally screwed me up for finals, but it was totally worth it.”

The episode featuring Banayan aired Monday and can be watched on the CBS website.

“After I won, all my friends from USC stormed the stage,” Banayan said. “It was a really fun experience.”

6 replies
  1. Rich D
    Rich D says:

    You have a great party boat now. Use it while you can. Girls love being on the water if you know what I mean! You can pack at least 2 or 3 on a 20ft boat. ohhh memories

  2. Sam B
    Sam B says:

    Alex. Congrats on your win. What are you gonna do with your sail boat? When are you gonna get a bigger boat? When will you find time to study when out on the open ocean?
    Just remember the true defenition of luck: When opportunity meets preparedness!!!

  3. Book Smarts
    Book Smarts says:

    I wanna see SC students win college Jeopardy. I watched the one in ’07 filmed at the Galeen Center, but SC, the UCs, and the oh-so “academically prestigious” Ivies got their butts kicked. I just remember the guy from Stanford and the premed girl from UNC Chapel Hill dominated.

  4. J.W.
    J.W. says:

    Seems like every year, there’s a USC student who wins big on The Price is Right. I won big last year (video linked in my name), and now Alex. Congratulations on the big win!

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