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Senior wins the ‘Showcase Showdown’

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What do Los Angeles, a camper, Bob Barker and the Notre Dame Glee Club all have in common?

They were all part of “The Price is Right” on March 16.

Senior Kevin Keller, tour manager for the Notre Dame Glee Club, was called from the crowd of the popular game show and went on to win the Showcase Showdown and the show’s grand prize – valued at almost $20,000.

Fifty-four members of the Glee Club went to California over spring break to perform, and Keller managed to get 25 tickets to “The Price is Right.” He took a group of seniors, juniors and several sophomores to the taping of the show, while the other members of the Glee Club explored Los Angeles. The show will air April 3 on CBS.

“I decided that I wanted to take the guys to do something cool and different that we don’t normally get to do,” Keller said.

The taping started in the afternoon as producers talked to audience members in groups of 12, a process Keller described as a “personality-type screening.”

During one of the breaks, show host Bob Barker asked the Glee Club to sing.

“We got to go up there on contestants row and sang the end of the ‘[Notre Dame] Fight Song’ on TV,” Keller said.

However, it was not until the words “Kevin Keller, come on down!” boomed over the audience that the 25 members of the Glee Club became thoroughly gleeful.

“When they yelled it, it was the greatest party,” Keller said. “We just went crazy – everyone was running around and jumping all over each other.”

Keller said the celebration was especially unique.

“When they normally call people down they’re in their rows so they get to celebrate, but not nearly as much,” he said. “We were in the aisle so we were just jumping around and running – it was a free-for-all.”

Keller won $880 worth of camping equipment through his accurate guessing in the initial bidding round. But he said he did use some form of strategy.

“The lady next to me guessed $800 on the bidding and I said $801,” he said. “I was ‘that guy’ for a round.”

After failing to win a golf cart in a game called “Coming or Going,” Keller moved on to the “Big Wheel.” As the wheel spun, Keller and the 24 other Glee Club members circled their fingers in the air for the “Go Irish” chant.

The object of the “Big Wheel” is to get as close as possible to one dollar. Keller ended up with 95 cents, landing him a spot in the Showcase Showdown.

In the Showdown, Keller found himself guessing at the price of a camping set.

“When you actually see the stuff and the cameras are on you and everybody’s yelling out prices and stuff I couldn’t think of anything,” he said. “I was just sitting there like ‘Whatever, I can’t believe I’m up here right now.'”

Keller bid $18,500 on the package that included a camper, a dirt bike, an oven, a refrigerator and a dishwasher.

“I just tried to think about when I watched the show – usually the big showcases were like $23,000 and the smaller ones were like $17,000 so I tried to pick in the middle of that,” he said. “My mind was everywhere.”

When he made it to the Showdown and was asked if he wanted anyone on stage to celebrate with him if he won, Keller’s answer was simple.

“Yeah, the Glee Club,” Keller said. “When I won, all 25 guys got to run up and we were just jumping around and had the greatest party.”

The celebration will likely continue on April 3 when the show airs, Keller said.

And while the Glee Club had every afternoon off during the week – most of which Keller said were spent relaxing at beaches – only one of the spring break days included meeting iconic “The Price is Right” host Bob Barker.

“He’s a witty guy,” Keller said. “He’s talking about a five-year contract extension that he’s thinking about, which would put him at 87 years old when he’s done.”

Despite his age, Barker knows how to have fun, Keller said. During one of the breaks in filming, someone from the audience asked Barker to recite a line from his role in “Happy Gilmore.”

“He was just like, ‘Well let me ask my personal assistant if it’s okay, I don’t want to do anything bad’ … so he walked over to his assistant with his microphone still on and he’s like ‘They want me to say, ‘The price is right, b****!” and the whole place just started cracking up laughing,” Keller said.

Keller said his time on “The Price is Right” was a wild experience he’ll never forget.

“It was so quick. We were in and out – they were like ‘Sign this, sign this and you’re done,'” he said. “At the end I had my arms around two of Barker’s Beauties and I was just like, ‘This is unreal.’ I’m never gonna have this opportunity again.”