In a twist of fate that has sparked an outpouring of sympathy for Graham, the Marshfield resident walked away from her game show appearance with an all-expenses-paid journey up Interstate 93 to the faraway land of … New Hampshire. At least she won’t have to worry about the hassle at the airport.
“I have been to New Hampshire a billion times,” said Graham, laughing about the odds of winning a vacation to somewhere so close to home. “It’s a beautiful state — I love it — but I would really like to have gone on a cruise around the world, or someplace exotic.”
In November, while visiting her daughter, Elizabeth, in California, Graham applied to be an audience member on “The Price Is Right,” something that’s been on her bucket list since she was a kid. Shortly after submitting her application, Graham had an interview online with representatives from the game show, she said.
In December, she got the call she had been hoping for; she had been chosen to come to the studio. Graham flew to California from Boston with her husband, Paul, and took part in a Dec. 12 taping that aired earlier this month.
“I was so excited that day,” said Graham, 61. “I couldn’t stop jumping around and smiling.”
Just because Graham had been selected to attend the taping didn’t guarantee that she would get on stage with longtime comedian and host Drew Carey, much less walk away with cash or prizes.
But luck seemed to be on Graham’s side that day — at least until it wasn’t.
Graham was selected to come up to Contestants Row, where players have to guess closest to the actual retail price of a specific item without going over. If they win, they advance to the next round, where they play one of the show’s many quirky pricing games.
After a few rounds, Graham emerged victorious (winning an outdoor firepit and loveseat in the process) and got to take her shot at winning big.
“I was the very last contestant to be called on stage, I was giving up hope,” she said. “But I finally made it. I got up there.”
Standing next to Carey and his slim microphone, Graham learned she would be playing “Side By Side,” where contestants are given a set of double-digit numbers and must guess what order best reflects the price of the prize they’re awarding for.
Then, Carey enthusiastically revealed what was on the line: a five-day trip to beautiful New Hampshire.
“It was so funny. My face says it all,” said Graham, who for a brief moment on camera looked like someone who had just been pranked. “I just laughed. [I was thinking] ‘Great. It couldn’t have been Tahiti, or Hawaii?’”
Graham said when the cameras were off, Carey said to her, “Wow! It’s so beautiful. New Hampshire is so beautiful.”
She replied, “’Drew! I live in Boston.‘ And he just laughed.”
Graham’s numbers for “Side By Side” were 76 and 96, so she had to decide if the trip would cost $7,696 or $9,676. Since the prize package included a flight from Los Angeles to the airport in Manchester, a rental car, a five-night stay, and vouchers for food, Graham guessed the former, and she was right.
As Graham’s story pinged around the Internet this week, people cracked jokes about her destination’s close proximity.
“You’ve waited your whole life in Marshfield, Massachusetts for the chance to be on the Price is Right. You make it to Cali and into the studio audience … They call your name … You guess the price … They show you what you’re playing for…,” one person tweeted. “… a trip to Concord, New Hampshire.”
“Omg bless her heart,” another person said.
Despite the not-so-tropical climate of Massachusetts’ neighbor to the North, Graham said she is excited to take the free trip, which she will do sometime in September.
“I love New Hampshire,” Graham said. “We will definitely go there.”
However, since flying from Los Angeles to Manchester wouldn’t make much sense, she will forfeit the airfare and the car rental and just drive to her vacation destination on her own.
Through it all, Graham, who also won a $1,000 prize, has remained upbeat. She said she’s grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime experience and the chance to meet Carey, who she said was “fun” and “entertaining.”
“It’s just so, so funny,” she said. “You’ve got to laugh.”
Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear†