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Engineering student wins big on ‘The Price Is Right’

Since 1972, contestants on “The Price Is Right” have “come on down” for the chance to appear on television and win prizes. Jacob Mattoni, a UT student majoring in electrical engineering, never thought one day he would be among them.

Mattoni was on a trip to California with his girlfriend and fellow UT student, Kendall Bialecki, who is majoring in biology/pre-med, during spring break while taping of the show took place.

Jacob Mattoni celebrated as “The Price Is Right” host Drew Carey announced his 95 cents qualified him to advance to the Showcase Showdown.

“Her sister-in-law was looking into getting tickets for a show in Los Angeles because we would be traveling there for a few days to visit. The day of the taping, we showed up and stood in line waiting to get into the registration area. The registration process took about three hours,” Mattoni explained. “Part of this process was the interview, which is when they take about 20 people at a time and ask them a simple question just to see how they respond.”

When asked by the interviewer what he does, Mattoni responded enthusiastically, telling him about going to The University of Toledo and studying electrical engineering.

Drew Carey reached out to shake hands with Jacob Mattoni who won the Showcase Showdown.

“He then responded with, ‘I bet you could use a new computer,’ which is when I said, ‘I could, but I’d rather win a new car,’” Mattoni said.

Luck appeared to be on Mattoni’s side when he was called on to participate in the game show, after putting on a performance in the audience to act “as obnoxious as possible” in an attempt to gain the attention of those running the program.

“I thought I heard my last name, but with everyone cheering in the audience, I couldn’t hear a thing. I then look on stage and see a man holding up a poster board with my name on it. At that point, I basically blacked out and couldn’t remember anything,” Mattoni recalled. “Out of 300 people in the audience, I never would have imagined getting my name called.

Jacob Mattoni, second from right, posed for a photo with the Bialecki family, from left, Ken, Dawn, Jayne and Kendall.

“Participating in the show is all a blur, to be honest. With dozens of cameras in your face and people screaming and cheering for you, there wasn’t much focus on the actual objective of the show,” he continued.

Mattoni did express thanks to his girlfriend and her family for their help from the audience throughout the show, which aired May 25.

After a brief setback during one of his prize games, Mattoni won a chance to compete for a showcase prize after spinning 95 cents on “the Big Wheel,” the closest amount to $1 that was spun without going over.

He then bested his opponent with his bid on a showcase prize that included a roundtrip to Yosemite National Park, a Mongoose ATV and a 2017 Honda Fit, which he said he traded for a more “age appropriate” 2017 Honda Civic, which has plenty of room for his golf clubs.