An Ohio State student might be cruising High Street in a new car, but he’s not telling.
Participants of ‘The Price is Right’ are required to accurately identify the price of various products in order to win cash and prizes, including new cars. Ever since Ronald Lechner Jr., a fourth-year in chemical engineering and a university ambassador was a young boy, he wanted his chance on the game show.
“I used to watch it with my nana and my parents. I love the show,” Lechner said. “I have a list of life goals and one of them was to be on ‘The Price is Right.’ I figured it was worth a shot and I was out there during the summer so I might as well go, right?”
However, Lechner has kept his participation on the show and the majority of the information relating to it a secret. Friends and family are excited to tune in to the show when it airs because the airdate was the only information Lechner was willing to provide.
Aubry Vonck, a first-year graduate student in English education, has known Lechner since their involvement in the First Year Leadership Initiative as student leaders their first year, but Lechner remained adamant about keeping it a surprise.
“He is so tight-lipped, even his sister didn’t have a clue,” Vonck said. “It’s very hush-hush, but you can tell from the grin on his face that whatever capacity he is on the show is pretty cool.”
Britain Wetzel, a third-year in biology and neuroscience and fellow university ambassador, agreed.
“Everyone tried asking but he’s not budging,” Wetzel said. “Whether or not he won something, I’m not sure, but I feel like he was actually on the show.”
Joseph Jones, a third-year in Spanish and economics and another fellow university ambassador, recalled conversations with Lechner whenever Jones would attempt to dig out some information on the show.
“I’ll ask him, ‘Hey Buddy, did you go on ‘The Price Is Right?’’ and he’ll say, ‘Oh, I cannot confirm or deny that, but I highly recommend that you watch it on Nov. 15.’” Jones said. “He’ll be really vague. I asked him, ‘Well, did you win a car? Did you win a car?’ and he’ll say, ‘I can’t confirm or deny that I won a car.’”
Lechner’s friends are organizing a watch party for everyone to get together and tune in to the game show.
The road to appearing on the show was a cross-country one. Lechner was interning in the research and development department of Niagara Bottling in California last summer. He woke up before the break of dawn Aug. 6 to be the first in line at 4 a.m. and anxiously waited to enter the CBS Television City studios in Los Angeles.
“I definitely wanted to try to get on it while I was in California because I figured I’ll be coming back to Ohio and I’d miss my chance,” Lechner said. “I asked the other interns but they didn’t want to go, so I just ended up going by myself.”
The producers of the show interview potential contestants once they manage to get into the studio. The potential candidates are then judged and selected based on the level of excitement they possess and their personal demeanor when answering the questions.
Lechner said he made an “absolute fool” of himself trying to be the most upbeat he possibly could to impress the producers.
“Being a university ambassador, you get good at talking in front of audiences and stuff, and being energetic about the school,” Lechner said. “I applied that when I was talking to the producers. I was standing up and dancing, trying to start the wave. I was doing anything I could to try to get them to pick me.”
OSU University Ambassadors lead campus tours and “represent the university in other capacities,” according to the University Ambassadors’ website.
Lechner’s dedication to the show was also apparent in the T-shirt he made and wore specifically for the day.
“On the front, it says, ‘I drove here from Ohio, Drew,’ and on the back it says, ‘To putt a hole in one or two,’ because one of the games in the show that I wanted to play was a miniature golf game,” Lechner said.
Lechner is set to graduate in December and relocate to White Plains, N.Y., to work with Dannon in its research and development division, but his next “crazy” goal he said he would like achieve is to be a part of “The Amazing Race.”
“The Price is Right,” featuring Lechner as a contestant, is scheduled to air Friday at 11 a.m. on CBS.
An earlier version of this story stated that Lechner and Vonck have known each other since their involvement in the First Year Leadership Collaborative. In fact, the two have known each other since their involvement in the First Year Leadership Initiative.