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How Do Contestants Collect Prizes on The Price is Right?

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If you’ve ever waded deep into the waters of daytime television, you’ve probably seen some very excitable contestants win some very expensive prizes on The Price is Right, the popular CBS game show that’s been airing nonstop since 1972. (Earlier versions aired from 1956 to 1965.) Winners of individual games and the climactic Showcase Showdown can take home everything from camping tents to vacation packages to a $120,000 Aston Martin car.

Collecting those prizes, however, is another story.

Since The Price is Right did not respond to multiple requests for comment, we reached out to Aurora De Lucia, a Los Angeles native who appeared on a March 2013 episode and wound up scoring a 2013 Chevy Cruze LS. “I viewed [winning] as a great way to make money,” she tells mental_floss. “But I was still excited to win a car because that seems like such a Price is Right thing that I'd dreamed of since I was a little girl.”

After making it on stage by coming closest to guessing the retail price of a set of four DXG camcorders (valued at $1260), De Lucia played the Money Game and nailed the correct cost of the Chevy: $19,652.

After commenting on the win (“Aieeee! Ahhhh!” “Oh, My Gah-weeee!”), De Lucia was hustled backstage. “There’s a little winners’ room where we sign all our paperwork,” she says. In addition to committing to paying sales tax on the car, De Lucia agreed that if she disclosed the results of the show prior to airtime, she would forfeit any prizes owed.

Not Aurora. Price is Right

As with most non-motorized prizes, the camcorders were shipped directly to De Lucia's home from the vendor; the car was picked up from a local dealership a few weeks after taping, though contestants from out of state typically need to wait while producers contact a dealer close to them. (The show’s paperwork, De Lucia says, stipulates they have 90 days to make arrangements, with the winner given 10 days to collect the vehicle once they’ve been notified it’s available.)

Before she could drive the Chevy off the lot, she paid the dealership $2067 in sales tax. All winners on the show are expected to pay the tax amount owed prior to taking possession of their prize. Because game show loot is considered income, De Lucia also had to pay federal tax, which fluctuates anywhere from 10 to 39.6 percent, depending on your income bracket; California also took their 8 percent cut for income tax (which also varies).

Long math equation short: De Lucia forked over in the neighborhood of $9000 in federal, state, and sales tax for a car worth roughly $20,000. Since she viewed it as more of a cash prize and had no intention of keeping it, she quickly sold it for roughly $14,800, leaving her with close to $6000 in actual winnings, not accounting for any end-of-year deductions. (She was taxed on the retail, not resale, value of the Chevy.)

Was it still worthwhile? “I think it's slightly silly to complain about netting many thousands of dollars for one day of work, which is ultimately super crazy fun,” she says. “But I also think that sometimes people can be a little in the face of game show winners if the winners mention taxes at all. And it's like, well, this is kind of a legit problem that you do have to think about, especially if you want to keep the car.”

The camcorders, however, were free of any tax burden. “I donated those to charity,” she says.

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Big Questions
Where Does the Phrase '… And the Horse You Rode In On' Come From?
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Horses may no longer be the dominant form of transportation in the U.S., but the legacy of our horseback-riding history lives on in language. When telling people off, we still use the phrase “... and the horse you rode in on.” These days, it’s rare for anyone you're telling to go screw themselves to actually be an equestrian, so where did “and the horse you rode in on” come from, anyway?

Well, let’s start with the basics. The phrase is, essentially, an intensifier, one typically appended to the phrase “F*** you.” As the public radio show "A Way With Words" puts it, it’s usually aimed at “someone who’s full of himself and unwelcome to boot.” As co-host and lexicographer Grant Barrett explains, “instead of just insulting you, they want to insult your whole circumstance.”

The phrase can be traced back to at least the 1950s, but it may be even older than that, since, as Barrett notes, plenty of crude language didn’t make it into print in the early 20th century. He suggests that it could have been in wide use even prior to World War II.

In 1998, William Safire of The New York Times tracked down several novels that employed the term, including The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1972) and No Bugles, No Drums (1976). The literary editor of the latter book, Michael Seidman, told Safire that he heard the term growing up in the Bronx just after the Korean War, leading the journalist to peg the origin of the phrase to at least the late 1950s.

The phrase has had some pretty die-hard fans over the years, too. Donald Regan, who was Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan from 1981 through 1984, worked it into his official Treasury Department portrait. You can see a title along the spine of a book in the background of the painting. It reads: “And the Horse You Rode In On,” apparently one of Regan’s favorite sayings. (The book in the painting didn't refer to a real book, but there have since been a few published that bear similar names, like Clinton strategist James Carville’s book …and the Horse He Rode In On: The People V. Kenneth Starr and Dakota McFadzean’s 2013 book of comics Other Stories And the Horse You Rode In On.)

It seems that even in a world where almost no one rides in on a horse, insulting a man’s steed is a timeless burn.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Big Questions
What Could the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean for Internet Users?
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What could the repeal of net neutrality mean for the average American internet user?

Zouhair Belkoura:

The imminent repeal of net neutrality could have implications for Americans beyond the Internet’s stratification, increased costs to consumers, and hindered access to content for all. Net neutrality’s repeal is a threat to the Internet’s democracy—the greatest information equalizer of our time.

With net neutrality’s repeal, ISPs could be selective about the content and pricing packages they make available. Portugal is a good example of what a country looks like without net neutrality

What people may not realize is that a repeal of net neutrality would also give ISPs the ability to throttle people’s Internet traffic. Customers won’t likely have visibility into what traffic is being throttled, and it could substantially slow down people’s Internet connections.

What happens when this type of friction is introduced to the system? The Internet—the greatest collective trove of information in the world—could gradually be starved. People who experience slower Internet speeds may get frustrated and stop seeking out their favorite sites. People may also lose the ability to make choices about the content they want to see and the knowledge they seek.

Inflated pricing, less access to knowledge, and slower connections aren’t the only impact a net neutrality repeal might have. People’s personal privacy and corporations’ security may suffer, too. Many people use virtual private networks to protect their privacy. VPNs keep people’s Internet browsing activities invisible to their ISPs and others who may track them. They also help them obscure their location and encrypt online transactions to keep personal data secure. When people have the privacy that VPNs afford, they can access information freely without worrying about being watched, judged, or having their browsing activity bought and sold by third-party advertisers.

Virtual private networks are also a vital tool for businesses that want to keep their company data private and secure. Employees are often required by their employers to connect to a VPN whenever they are offsite and working remotely.

Even the best VPNs can slow down individuals' Internet connections, because they create an encrypted tunnel to protect and secure personal data. If people want to protect their personal privacy or company’s security with a VPN [they] also must contend with ISP throttling; it’s conceivable that net neutrality’s repeal could undermine people’s freedom to protect their online safety. It could also render the protection a VPN offers to individuals and companies obsolete.

Speed has always been a defining characteristic of the Internet’s accessibility and its power. Net neutrality’s repeal promises to subvert this trait. It would compromise both people's and companies’ ability to secure their personal data and keep their browsing and purchasing activities private. When people don’t have privacy, they can’t feel safe. When they don’t feel safe, they can’t live freely. That’s not a world anyone, let alone Americans, want to live in.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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