West Seattle-residing firefighter scores big on TV game show

(Clip of Ben Dyer’s TPIR appearance, provided to WSB by CBS)

By Randall Hauk
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

When Ben and Heather Dyer decided to travel to southern California around the time of Heather’s mid-January birthday, the idea was to get away from their normal day-to-day routine, enjoy time with family members in the area, and return to Seattle with batteries fully charged from time spent soaking in the famous California sun.

When they returned to their West Seattle home and their regular day-to-day lives, Ben probably shared the typical return-to-work stories of vacation with his fellow firefighters at Seattle Fire Station 26 in South Park. Heather almost certainly told friends about celebrating her birthday while out of town with her husband.

And now that their January 12 visit to the Bob Barker Studio has been aired by CBS, all those friends, family, and coworkers who heard tales of the Dyers’ Southern California trip are learning that a fairly significant event was omitted from those early recountings:

Ben was a contestant on “The Price is Right” – TV’s longest-running game show – but he and Heather were unable to tell anyone that until it aired this past Wednesday, much less could they have revealed he went on a winning streak that ran from contestant’s row all the way through the “Showcase” finale. We didn’t hear about it until one of Ben’s coworkers sent us the tip.

“We were just gobsmacked,” an audibly still-elated Ben told WSB on Thursday, the day after his episode (which can be watched here) aired, allowing him to finally let go of the big secret he’s been keeping for two weeks.

The couple hadn’t planned to attend a taping of the game show as part of their vacation, but once down there decided it might be a fun option for the day before Heather’s birthday.

“We watch ‘The Price is Right’ a fair bit and we thought, ‘Why not? We might as well go for it!” Ben explained.

As fans of the show, they were aware of the tradition of studio-audience members making t-shirts to wear while in attendance. Though they were aware of show host Drew Carey’s ties to the Seattle Sounders, their trip to CBS Television City came just two days after the Seahawks’ last-gasp playoff win over the Minnesota Vikings. Hence, they opted to celebrate the team that was playing in high-stakes competitions; you’ll see Ben in the clip wearing a shirt declaring #GoHawks.

His was the second name of the four called to initially populate “Contestants’ Row” at the start of the show, but he had to stand and watch as each of the other three landed successful bids to join Carey in one of the show’s famous games. Though Dyer had been excited enough to even have been called, he’d been down there long enough to know he wanted to get more from his good fortune.

“I started to realize that it was not just about getting up there,” says Dyer. “I wanted to get up on stage.”

On his fourth attempt, he had the advantageous position of being the final bidder and went one dollar higher than the highest existing bid, a strategy well-known to viewers of the show for its high rate of success.

Of course, it worked.

Once on stage, Ben was faced with a game called “Pass the Buck,” which presented him with panels numbered one through six. He had two chances to win a prize by avoiding choosing the two that would reveal a message of “Lose Everything.” Otherwise, he had a chance to win cash prizes of $1,000, $3,000, or $5000, or a brand new car.

“With it being Heather’s birthday, I knew I had to pick 1 and 3,” recounts Dyer. “You can see me signaling the numbers to her.”

Ben went with the “3” first and got $1,000. The “1” got him the new Scion iM. And though he was up there delivering the picks, Dyer says he couldn’t have done it without his collaborator in the audience.

“It was a total team effort,” says Dyer. “I’m so glad she was there. It was hard to concentrate!”

Even if the story ended there, the Dyers would have had an amazing tale to tell, but unlike his beloved Seahawks a few days later, Ben had another victory coming.

At the “Showcase Showdown,” Ben was to be the third to spin the big wheel with 20 different money values in five-cent increments. Each contestant gets two spins to get as close to one dollar total without going over. After the first contestant did just that, Dyer’s odds of getting to the show’s final grand-prize game doubled, but only temporarily.

Rhonda, the woman spinning before Dyer, started with a spin of 20 cents, too low a value on which to comfortably sit. Her second spin, though, was not as unfortunate as that of Floyd before her, instead slowly creeping to the “.80” that put her at the unbeatable one-dollar total.

“When she spun the dollar, I thought it was all over,” says Dyer.

But Dyer put together a comeback of which Pete Carroll would be proud, posting a combination of “.45” and “.55” to send the matter into the showdown’s version of overtime: a single bonus higher-number-wins spin-off.

Rhonda opened with “.25,” leaving the path clear for Dyer to sneak into the finale with his 75-cent spin.

“It was ridiculous,” recounts Dyer.

In the final game, the Showcase, Dyer passed on bidding for a prize package that included a vacation to Madrid in favor of seeing what the second prize package offered, knowing that a car was usually among the prizes in one of the two “Showcase” offerings.

Because his opponent’s guess was over the total estimated value of the aforementioned package, Dyer won a pair of high-fashion earrings, a vacation to Las Vegas, and that second car he’d assumed would be available, this one a Ford Escape.

As Ben and Heather reunited on stage in the wake of his victory, host Carey approached to visit with the couple and acknowledged Dyer’s 12th Man tribute, saying, “You must be a Seahawks fan; that was a last-minute win if I ever saw one!”

Though the Dyers do not yet have any of their prizes, the production team did send them home with two license-plate holders that read “I won this car on ‘The Price is Right’.” So when you see a blue Escape with those holders making its way around the neighborhood, you’ll know the story behind it.

8 Replies to "West Seattle-residing firefighter scores big on TV game show"

  • Sheila G January 29, 2016 (5:10 pm)

    Cool! What a fun experience.

  • susandennis January 29, 2016 (6:09 pm)

    I love this story. What fun. But, even more I love that the West Seattle Blog continues to bring such detail to this kind of story as well as all the stories on government, development, neighborhoods… We are very lucky to have this resource. Thanks!

  • mrsjonesb January 29, 2016 (7:18 pm)

    Congrats to the Big Winners!!!! What a fun story, both in content and the style of the story telling as well!!! I’ve always wanted to know if the contestants that had won cars, got to drive them home that very day, or not! I had NO idea that you actually had to keep the mouth shut about the fun time experienced, for THAT long!!! Wow! That to me, would be the hardest thing EVER!!!  Great job!! Can’t wait to see the cars driving around the neighborhoods!! Just remember that this story was written, so you’ll know why everyone’s honking and waving at you!! ha

  • Eileen January 29, 2016 (8:19 pm)

    Love this story – thanks for sharing!

  • Nw mama January 29, 2016 (10:08 pm)

    Ditto to SusanDennis!

  • heather January 29, 2016 (10:44 pm)

    Awesome! How cool is that?

  • DF January 29, 2016 (11:15 pm)

    Congrats, and thank you for your service to our community!

  • Elle Nell January 31, 2016 (11:20 pm)

    Woohooo!!!!! Awesome!!! 

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