The Phone Home Game

The Phone Home Game

The Phone Home Game was a pricing game on the American television game show, "The Price Is Right". Played from the Season 12 premiere on September 12, 1983 to November 3, 1989, it was played for a cash prize of up to $15,000, and used grocery items. Its name came from an event in the feature film "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial".


During much of the 1980s, "The Price is Right" had a feature called "Play Along," where viewers were invited to send postcards to the show for a chance to receive the same prizes won by the in-studio contestants. The Phone Home Game took this concept to another level, having the person whose postcard was drawn participate by telephone in a cooperative effort with the in-studio contestant to split a cash prize of up to $15,000. The home player communicated by way of a telephone receiver as part of the game's prop.

The in-studio contestant was shown a game board listing seven grocery items, each having an amount of money concealed beside it. The home player had been prepared with a list of the products and their actual prices. The home player gave the in-studio contestant three prices, one at a time. The in-studio contestant had to match the price to the correct product on the board. If they were correct, the two contestants earned the amount of money concealed next to that product on the board, which was not revealed until the end of the game. If the pick was wrong, no money was earned, and both the wrongly guessed product and the product which actually matched the price were taken out of play (since the price of the incorrect choice was revealed).

Once all three prices were played, the money concealed beside any correctly guessed products was revealed, and the two players split the winnings evenly.

The home player was only supposed to give a price to the in-studio contestant; if the home viewer read out the name of an item, the team would lose a turn.

Prize Money

The seven products concealed the following prize amounts: $200 and $1,000 were each on the board twice, and the top three prizes of $2,000; $3,000; and $10,000 each appeared once, for a top prize of $15,000 split between the contestants.

History and behind the scenes

For the week of August 22-26, 1983, "The Price is Right" aired a special week of new shows simply to advertise the debut of The Phone Home Game.

At least two teams split the $15,000 top prize (on April 17, 1986 and June 30, 1988); there were also teams who won nothing - including one in which the home player named a product instead of a price on all three turns and completely wasted the game.

The home viewer was called before the taping of the show began and was put on hold until the game was played. The staff reasoned that keeping someone on hold for over 20 minutes would be impolite, so the game was always played in the first half of a show.

Until the set was revamped in 2007, there was still a jack for The Phone Home Game's telephone to be plugged into on the frame of one of the show's Big Doors.

The at-home participants in this pricing game forfeited their eligibility to become an in-studio contestant on "The Price Is Right"; however, this rule was eliminated as of November 13, 2007, when a new rule permitted past contestants to appear on the show again after ten years.


The Phone Home Game was retired because the staff thought the game took too long to play and didn't draw enough interest.

Foreign versions

At least one country has had a foreign version of this game-- Germany, where the game was called "Heisser Draht" (Hot Phone), but with similar gameplay and a DM15,000 top prize.

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