For Jared Steingraber, 1995 was a landmark year.
He and his wife, Teena, had their first child, a son, Tanner.
Unfortunately, it also was the year Steingraber got laid off from his job at a mortgage company.
Fortunately, he was able to land a part-time job at the Orange PD in the Records department.
Still, money was tight.
Which explains why Steingraber, who had ample time to watch daytime TV as he sought full-time employment, got the idea to get tickets to “The Price is Right” and take a stab and winning some big bucks.
He got on the show, and was selected to play the game “Plinko” after making the winning guess on the price of a computer, but he only walked away with $600.
The money helped, but Steingraber felt he had let his family down.
Flash forward to the present.
Steingraber and his wife now have five kids, ages 11 to 23, and he’s worked in the OPD Records department for 23 years – 21 of them full time. Since 2004, he’s served as one of the unit’s supervisors.
In December 2017, Steingraber once again landed tickets to “The Price is Right,” the venerable game show created in 1956 in which contestants compete to win cash and prizes by guessing the pricing of merchandise.
He had one thing in mind when he, his wife, his son, Tanner, now 23, and Tanner’s wife, Karin, went to Studio 33 in CBS Television City in Hollywood:
BACK ON STAGE
Steingraber isn’t some game show freak.
Even if he wanted to be, he doesn’t have time to watch much TV.
But he always wanted to get back on stage during a taping of “The Price is Right” and qualify for the showcase, the showdown between two contestants vying to take home merchandise typically valued in the mid-$20,000 range per showcase.
For the uninitiated, contestants on the “The Price is Right” showcase guess what the showcase they choose to bid on is worth. Whoever guesses closest to the price without going over it wins. If a contestant guesses within $250 under the value of the showcase, he or she wins both showcases.
For the December 2017 taping, Steingraber’s wife made him a T-shirt that read:
In 1995 I only won $600 on Plinko I’m back for redemption
On the shirt was an image of Steingraber from that 1995 show with host Bob Barker (since 2007, comedian Drew Carey has been the host).
Steingraber knew the drill: cheer wildly while the cameras rolled, and hope the producer selects you so you can try your chance at winning the right to play for money.
Only 10 or so people make it to the stage out of 250 per episode.
Steingraber didn’t get picked for the taping of the first show.
He and his family decided to stay for the second one.
“Heck, we were already there,” Steingraber reasoned.
Sitting in the deepest corner of the studio, Steingraber didn’t think he was going to get picked.
He was the last one selected.
After successfully bidding on several pair of women’s shoes, Steingraber made it to the stage.
But he lost his game.
“I’m thinking, it’s 1995 all over again,” Steingraber said.
But so, too, did the other five contestants, which in a fluke allowed Steingraber to spin to qualify for the showcase.
Steingraber made it on the last of two spins.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I was in disbelief, I was nervous. I was thinking, ‘ I can’t screw this up again.’”
He bid first on a showcase: a laptop, a six-day trip to New York, and a new Honda Fit.
In perhaps an omen, Steingraber and his wife recently had talked about visiting the Big Apple. Both have never been there.
Cameras in face, with audience members screaming, Steingraber heard someone yell “23,000” repeatedly, and he made his bid:
He said he has no idea why he decided to add the extra $275.
Steingraber’s opponent mulled her showcase: a home theater including leather recliners and a 75-inch flat TV, plus a Jeep Renegade Sport.
The woman’s bid was $3,908 short of the actual value, $27,773.
Carey then turned to Steingraber and looked at the actual price.
“Oh, hey,” Carey said.
Steingraber knew that was a good sign.
Carey announced the actual value:
Steingraber’s bid was only off by $128, which earned him both showcases worth a combined value of $51,176.
“I was stunned,” Steingraber recalled.
For nearly four months, Steingraber had to be quiet about his winnings.
The show aired April 30, 2018.
Steingraber, who had the day off, watched the show with his wife and 16-year-old daughter, Lindsey.
His cell phone blew up with messages, many from his colleagues at the OPD who were watching the show from the station.
They gave Steingraber a new nickname:
Steingraber, who grew up in Anaheim and turns 51 in July, recently received the last of his prizes. He said he may sell the Honda Fit to pay for all the taxes he will owe from his winnings.
Steingraber and his wife have booked a trip to New York for the end of September.
“You talk about redemption,” Steingraber said with a laugh. “To be honest, it’s still somewhat surreal.”