Skip to main content

Price is Right fans fondly remember the most famous words uttered by host Bob Baker: “It’s a new car!” He always gave this statement the necessary excitement on the show, ensuring a spectacle on the stage during the game. What happens when you win a game show car? Do winners actually get to keep the cars they win in the show?

A greyscale image of a new roadster being driven onto the set of The Price is Right gameshow in 1960
The Price is Right showcases a new car prize in 1960 | Hulton Archive via Getty Images

Do contestants get to drive the game show car on the stage home after the show?

The hoopla surrounding anyone winning a new car on a game show is hard to miss. Many kids staying home sick from school have watched people win cars on The Price is Right and other game shows. But most of us are unaware of how this process works after the show. Many times, game shows end with the prize winners surrounded by their prizes. When one of those prizes is a car, the final credits often roll over a camera shot of the contestant in the car. What you don’t see comes next.


Unfortunately, game show contestants don’t get to drive the cars from the stage to their homes. Instead, as reports from one woman who won a car on the Price is Right, documentation and legality come into play. The game show car is subject to taxes. Winners are told they will receive a letter from accounting showing the amount of taxes owed. Once these taxes are paid, the show contacts a local car dealership where the winner can pick up the car.

Is it a good idea to accept non-cash prizes on game shows?

If the prices were tax-exempt, the simple answer would be “yes” you should take all the prizes and enjoy them. Unfortunately, all prizes are taxable. NerdWallet points out that if the cumulative value of the prizes won exceeds $600, winners will receive a 1099-MISC. This form must be filed with the winner’s tax return.

Game show prizes are taxable, which makes winning a vacation or car difficult to accept. The value of these prizes becomes part of the winner’s annual taxable income. This could send some people into a higher tax bracket than before.

Unless you have enough saved to pay the tax bill on a game show car, you might want to search for other ways to accept your game show prizes.

Can you take cash instead?

If you can’t afford to pay the taxes on a game show car, vacation, or other non-cash prize, what should you do? Thankfully, you don’t have to forfeit the prize, although that is an option. Instead, you can ask for the value of the prize in cash.

While boring, taking the cash instead of the prize makes a lot of sense. You could pay the taxes of the prize and buy a less expensive new car or shop for a used model. For vacation prizes, the smart move is to pay the taxes and go on a less expensive vacation.

Unless you’ve got the money to pay the taxes for the prizes won on a game show, taking the cash is a much better option than the game show car or vacation. Game shows are fun to watch and participate in, but there’s always that nagging thing called taxes waiting to take part of the fun away.