Here's What Really Happens When You Win A New Car On The Price Is Right

There's something about winning a car. It's the prize of prizes. Remember when Oprah gave everyone in her entire audience — 276 people in all — brand-new Pontiac G6s, exclaiming "You get a car ... And you get a car" to celebrate her 19th season? Well, that was in 2004, and the memes still exist, as does the video on YouTube

While The Oprah Winfrey Show paid for sales tax and registration for the cars, audience members needed to pay the gift tax — for some of them, up to $7,000, reports Motor1. The show did give those who couldn't afford the fee the option to collect a cash prize instead of the vehicle. 

While a car is coveted, the prize isn't always what it seems. This is true of the show The Price Is Right. Winning such a big price is thrilling; recipients jump up and down, scream, and then race down to jump behind the wheel of their new ride. But once the lights dim, that dream can become a bit of a nightmare.

First of all, according to The List, before any prize comes into your home, taxes must be paid.  Debra Field knows this well. She won a car on the iconic game show and cried on national television. She told App, "after the show is over and you see your prizes, you fill out a form and it explains exactly what you won and that you have to pay California income tax on your prizes."

Paying to collect your winnings

Once the show aired, Field paid her fees, the show contacted a local car dealership, and she got her car. The show insists you pay all taxes before you even see your prize.

Some winners would rather not pay state and federal taxes and say no to the prize. But that doesn't mean they get cash instead. According to a post on ABC News, cash is substituted only in certain instances. Said one winner, "We won an Apple computer, and Apple doesn't ship their items, so we got the money." He took the green and paid the taxes on his other winnings. 

Often big prize recipients pay top value, too. ABC News pointed out that winners pay full retail value — no discounts. If you win a big enough prize, "the income might be enough to lift you into a higher tax bracket."

All these factors played into one contestant's decision to take $1,500 rather than an opportunity to win a car. SBNation reported that during the game "Let 'Em Roll," Kevin got four car symbols, something so difficult it only happens 6.25 percent of the time. All he needed to get was one other car ... and he had two chances to do so: a 50/50 chance of winning the car during each roll. Instead, Kevin opted for the moolah while the top cash prize was available. Best of all? His winnings paid any taxes. Said SBNation: "Good move, Kevin, you're the real MVP."