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Pomona Student Wins More Than $5,000 in Cash and Prizes on "The Price is Right"

For Nichole Runge ’09, it’s always been a dream to be on "The Price is Right." "I remember watching it in grade school,” she says, “and thinking, 'I want to do this…I could be so much better than these people!'"

At the beginning of the summer she was invited to help organize off-campus events for the Summer Activities Committee, and signed up almost exclusively for the opportunity to plan a Pomona-sponsored trip to the famed LA game show. Little did she know that just a few months later she would be gracing the stage with host Drew Carey, ultimately leaving with $3,000 in cash and over $2,000 in prizes. Her episode, No. 4451, airs on December 5.

On July 23, Runge made the trek to Los Angeles with about 20 students to attend a taping of the program. Runge says that she was “so excited and insane” during the interviewing process that she figured she had pretty good odds to be called down to the stage.

Proudly displaying their Pomona roots on the program, Runge and several other students wore home-made shirts that said “PC (hearts)© DC” (Pomona College loves Drew Carey) on the front and “Sagehens 47” on the back. Runge was called down during the second half of the show and eventually placed a $1,847 bid on a $2,000 marble-top cabinet that earned her an opportunity to take part in the ever-popular “Plinko” game.

One of the few chance games on “The Price is Right,” and the only one that shells out cold cash, “Plinko” involves contestants dropping coins down a pegboard with various denominations ranging from $0 to $10,000. “It didn’t used to be, but now it’s my favorite game on the show,” Runge says. She ended up winning $3,000, as well as a series of appliances that included an ice cream machine, a hot dog maker, a model car and what she describes, with puzzlement, as a “drum-machine mouse pad.”

A Latin-American Studies major, Runge plans to use the money to help fund post-college travels around the world, including an intercontinental adventure from Alaska to Chile via bus. More recently, she also celebrated the occasion by purchasing a white dwarf hamster that she named “Plinko.”

The price of the hamster? “It came free with the cage.”