Come. On. Down!
You are the next contestant on the Price is Right.”
It is the phrase that everyone in the studio yearns to hear, and Ms. Perez was no different. When her bid on an item was the closest to what it actually cost, she confidently arrived on stage in her wheelchair and gushed to Drew Carey about how excited she was to be there.
On the episode of the show that aired May 5th, she was asked to play a game where she was given the price tag of one of two items, a treadmill, and a sauna. She had to choose which item actually cost the price she was given. She guessed correctly and won both the sauna and the treadmill.
There was one problem. Ms. Perez has no feet.
Living my whole life with my disability, I have come to understand that many things can happen as a result of it. Some are annoying. Some are incredible. Some make me livid. Some make me laugh.
When I heard this story, I felt kind of the same way as I did the first time I heard the story about a Russian cross-country skier who competed as a visually impaired athlete at the Turin Paralympics in 2006. After she had reached the finish line with her escort, she turned her head to the display panel, which showed that she had won a medal. The allegedly blind athlete then threw her arms up into the air and cheered. Really, she did. Talk about “blind arrogance…”
Simply classic. You just can’t make this stuff up. But I digress. Back to The Price Is Right.
The video of that segment of the game show is interesting to watch. When she won the prizes, it was pretty obvious that both she and the host, Drew Carey, didn’t quite know what to do. Therefore; they simply ignored the elephant in the room. Ms. Perez was very gracious and appreciative of the prizes, and she said so.
Most of the America, on the other hand, was probably sitting in their living rooms watching the show verbalizing what was on their minds.
“What the heck is a woman who has no feet supposed to do with a freakin’ treadmill? Can anyone say AWKWARD?”
It’s okay. Let go of the embarrassment. Get over it. Being politically correct in this situation is not required. Go ahead and laugh. No judgment here. I promise. Personally, I thought the whole thing was hysterical.
There was some backlash after the show on social media. Many people criticized the show’s producers for not coming up with a more appropriate prize. Ms. Perez, a comedian, took the whole thing in stride, quickly pointing out that the prizes on the show are chosen randomly, and after the show aired, she got a tweet from her best friend, saying “Well, at least we know the show isn’t rigged!”
The next night Ms. Perez landed an interview with Jimmy Fallon, and I was impressed with how that went from the beginning. After he welcomed her to his show, Mr. Fallon pulled out a folding chair to sit at her level. “Just so this is not weird.” He said.
“By the way, a treadmill is kind of a terrible prize no matter what the situation.” He said in the middle of the interview.
Ms. Perez said that people keep asking her what she is going to do with it. “I guess I will just do what everyone else does,” is her response, “and just use it as a piece of furniture. I was going to sell it on Craigslist,” she continued, “but after all that has happened, I can’t do that, I am going to cast it in bronze as a tribute to my network television debut.”
Toward the end of the interview, Mr. Fallon said that he had one final question for Ms. Perez. Holding a jar of peanut butter, he asked her to guess the price within a dollar. She jokingly said that was difficult given that she was a “Nutella girl.”
When she ventured a guess, Jimmy Fallon told her she was close enough, and told her they had a gift for her. He had an announcer tell Ms. Perez “[she] and a guest will sail the Caribbean on an international cruise with wheelchair accessible entertainment, wheelchair accessible fine dining, wheelchair accessible pools and wheelchair accessible state rooms. All for you and all expenses paid.”
Kudos to you, Jimmy Fallon. Giving Ms. Perez a gift that she could actually use, given her circumstances, was a pretty stand up thing to do.
I still think the whole thing is pretty funny.