What Being A Price Is Right Model Is Really Like

The following references sexual misconduct allegations. 

"The Price Is Right" has given pop culture so much over the years. There's the legendary Bob Barker telling the audience at the end of each episode, "This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population — have your pets spayed or neutered." Nowadays, there's Drew Carey, hosting the game in his iconic thick-rimmed glasses. There's that iconic Plinko board. There's that magical invitation for audience members to "Come on down!"

The show has another ingredient that makes it work, however, one that doesn't always get the attention it deserves: the presence of the models. Called "Barker's Beauties" back in the day and now referred to by their names, the models are the ones who show off the products and prizes up for grabs in each episode. After all, as the old ad adage goes, "sex sells," so it's great to have a pretty face to draw the eye. The models on "The Price Is Right" aren't just pretty faces, however; they have important roles on and off the show. This is what being a "Price Is Right" model is really like.

The show finds models in many ways

Throughout the many decades that "The Price Is Right" has been on the air, models have won spots on the show in a number of ways. For example, Rachel Reynolds, who has modeled for "The Price Is Right" since 2003, was urged to audition by an agent shortly after she moved to Los Angeles. He asked if she'd ever seen "The Price Is Right," meaning, had she ever tried out, but she misunderstood. In a backstage interview posted by the series' Facebook account, she recalled, "I'm thinking, 'You can get me tickets to the show? How great is that!'" Once he clarified that he meant a meeting with producers to talk about being a model, she said, "Then I really flipped out."

Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, on the other hand, was scouted by "The Price Is Right" producers. The show taped next door to "The Bold And The Beautiful," where Osborne-Smith had a small role one day. She told Fox News, "It just so happened that there was a beach scene so I wasn't wearing very much ... Apparently, I was spotted working and the rest is history!"

The audition process seems to be different depending on the model. Alexis Gaube, who was cast in 2021, revealed in an introduction video that she actually had to tape an episode of the show before she officially got the job. She explained, "I came and did my first show, and they called me back, and now I'm here!"

Drew Carey stopped using nicknames for the models

In 2007, Drew Carey took over "The Price Is Right," assuming hosting duties from longtime showman Bob Barker upon his retirement. While Carey kept much of the show the same, he made a few changes aimed at bringing the game show into the 21st century. Among other things, Carey changed the way models were referred to on the show. Under Barker's tenure, the models were frequently called "Barker's Beauties." Carey didn't want an equivalent nickname for his own employees, telling Time that he wasn't interested in "Carey's Cuties" or anything along those lines. "We are going to call them by their names," he said. "I think they are individual women and I want them to stand on their own."

USA Today spoke with Barker about the change, noting that the show had been accused of sexual harassment in the past. The former host didn't comment on the allegations, but he acknowledged that they might indicate a need to change the show's approach to the models. "If they wish to discontinue that, that's fine, because they're not Barker's Beauties anymore," he said. Carey jumped in, elaborating on what he'd told Time. "I'd hope they could use this as a springboard to get famous for other things," he said. Syd Vinnedge, a producer on the show, praised Carey's treatment of the women on his version of the show: "He really is very respectful of them."

The models have mics now

As part of new host Drew Carey's initiative to allow the "Price Is Right" models to be more of an active participant on the show, he gave them microphones. Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, a model for many years, told Fox News that the change helped her feel less like she had to play a character while she appeared on the show. "They were just looking at [us] like models who were objectified," she explained. "[We] weren't looked [at] like personalities. But when Drew Carey stepped in, he was so very happy to make changes." Osborne-Smith admitted that the change took some getting used to. "There was some bumps in the road because some people talk a little too much," she laughed. "Some people were told 'not to talk too much,' so we had to find a happy medium with that."

Nowadays, the "Price Is Right" models are given more free rein, able to participate in the show's fun atmosphere. Accordingly, they have been responsible for some of the show's most viral moments. In October 2023, video of Manuela Arbeláez went viral after she killed a fly with her stiletto during the show, halting gameplay. "She's a fly killer!" model Rachel Reynolds exclaimed. On Instagram, the show's upload of the clip passed 42,000 Likes in its first few days; on TikTok, the video flew past 668K views. "She just casually took off her shoe and delivered death before putting it back on," one fan commented.

They get to help choose their ensembles

In many cases, models are told what to wear and how to walk. On "The Price Is Right," though, the models are given some say over the looks they wear as they show off the pricey products showcased on the game show. Model Rachel Reynolds told People that getting to work with the glam squad is one of the best things about being a model for the show. "I come into work with no makeup, wet hair, and I can come in joggers and in my tennis shoes," she said. By the time she's ready to get dressed, wardrobe presents her with potential ensembles. "I have the best hair and makeup, then they'll give me 30 to 40 different dresses or outfits, options to wear. I love it all," she said. "And I'm so, so fortunate!"

The models do a great job picking out eye-catching looks that don't distract from, ya know, the prizes. Their pretty, yet sensible looks are cataloged by fans, and there are entire websites devoted to helping fans emulate the outfits they see on the game show. WornOnTV.net has a whole "Price Is Right" section, where fans have noticed, for example, that Manuela Arbeláez wore the same $440 Saks Fifth Avenue black palm leaf print maxi dress on both May 6, 2022 and October 24, 2023.

In 2012, the show brought on its first male model

While the models on "The Price Is Right" were historically women, the show made a major change in 2012. They conducted a national search to find the show's first male model, ultimately landing on "Days Of Our Lives" star Rob Wilson. The job search, he told TV Line, was unconventional. They had to design t-shirts and act out what they would do if they were a contestant chosen from the audience to "come on down!" Wilson suspected that it's something else, though, that gave him a leg up on the competition. "We did this crazy karaoke thing which I guess got me a bit further along, because I just let go, and the judges really liked that," he said. "I freestyled a rap over the 'Price Is Right' anthem."

Two years later, the show added an Australian model named James O'Halloran. His audition process was different from Wilson's. "I had to model a bass guitar," O'Halloran recalled to Gold Derby. He joked, "Somehow I got through, paid off the right people, and here I am!"

In 2018, former Baltimore Ravens player Devin Goda joined the cast. He told People (via The New York Post) that modeling wasn't too far from his former job. "You have to know camera angles, you have to know lines. It's just kinda like the playbook in football," he reflected. "You have to know what you're doing, where you're doing, you have to know where you're looking at

The show's handling of pregnancy has gotten better

Things aren't always great on the set of "The Price Is Right." In 2010, model Brandi Cochran sued the show for unfair dismissal. She was pregnant in both 2007 and 2008, and she found that producers treated her differently after her pregnancies. When her first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, a producer allegedly told her it was "nature's way of getting rid of a bad baby," according to TMZ. When she was pregnant with twins the following year, a producer said "wide load coming through" as she walked past. Complications from the pregnancy led to her going out on disability, and she alleged that the situation is what led to her firing. Cochran was initially awarded over $8 million in damages, but according to Patch, that amount was eventually overturned. The parties settled out of court.

Thankfully, there is evidence that the show is improving. Model Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith became pregnant in 2012, and she was initially nervous to tell the show. Osborne-Smith recalled to Fox News, "Being a woman in this industry, especially as a model where you're recognized for your body and face — it was really scary." However, she ultimately didn't have to worry, as Drew Carey supported her behind the scenes. "He was over the moon," she recalled. Osborne-Smith noted what a change this was. "He was very happy to have the opportunity, through me, to prove the type of man he was and how different he was than Bob Barker's era."

There have been accidents on the set

"The Price Is Right" has pumped out nearly 10,000 episodes over its run, and at this point it runs like a well-oiled machine. However, over the years, things on set have occasionally gone awry, leading to accidents. In 1988, original model Janice Pennington was hit by a camera and knocked unconscious, and fell in the audience. According to the Los Angeles Times, she needed multiple surgeries, and ultimately one of her shoulders ended up shorter than the other. The situation prompted an outpouring of fan support, and when Pennington returned to the show, she got choked up. "I want to thank all of you out there that sent so many beautiful cards and letters that were very touching and very special to me," she said. She ultimately won a $1.3 million settlement against the show.

In early 2015, announcer George Gray decided to model a treadmill. He was jogging backwards when he lost his balance and fell, sliding to the end. When he got back up and delivered the treadmill's specs, he joked, "Aspirin not included." Model Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith told Fox News that the incident was funny, but also frightening. "I thought we were going to stop taping, but we kept going," she said. "I was in shock and, thankfully, he was OK."

Also in 2015, model Amber Lancaster tripped and took out a stage light. Thankfully, she was fine. "Just going to die of embarrassment real quick," she joked (via TheWrap).

Models can feel pressure to look a certain way

Especially in the early years of "The Price Is Right," the show's models faced intense pressure to maintain a youthful look. A model named Holly Hallstrom sued the show in 1996, alleging that she was fired for gaining weight. She was on pre-menopausal hormones, which caused her to gain an extra 14 pounds. Incredibly, that was enough for the show to put her on leave until she slimmed back down, but she was let go instead. According to The New York Times, Bob Barker told "Entertainment Tonight" that her weight gain wasn't why she was fired. "If the company were going to terminate her for a weight problem, Holly would have been gone years and years ago," he said, surely not helping the case.

Other models testified on her behalf and subsequently parted ways with the show. In a Los Angeles Times interview about being let go, model Janice Pennington detailed her plastic surgery and beauty regimen, what she called "self-preservation." She said she'd had the bags under her eyes worked on, adding, "I've had little sections done — a little brow lift or a little something lipoed from under my chin. When I had a real hard time losing weight, I had some lipo on my body. I'll go in every week for facials. And I go to the dermatologist and get light peels." Hopefully, under the show's new regime, producers are less strict.

The set has allegedly been a toxic workplace

Over the years, a number of models on "The Price Is Right" have accused the show of being quite the toxic workplace. In the 1990s, model Dian Parkinson sued Bob Barker, alleging that she was forced into a sexual relationship with the host in order to keep her job. He insisted the relationship was consensual, but she alleged that it was not, and that favors were offered in exchange for sex. Ultimately, she dropped the lawsuit. In a statement to UPI, she said, "Bob Barker has beaten me into submission. My doctor has advised that I am not strong enough to see this thing through."

In 2011, model Lanisha Cole sued the show after two producers treated her unfairly. She alleged that they showed other models favoritism, including one producer spending an entire year only communicating with Cole via notes and intermediaries. During one incident, a producer berated her in her dressing room, in front of colleagues, while she wore only underwear. According to ABC News, the lawsuit alleged that Cole had "a severe physical reaction to the stress and anxiety created by her employer's refusal to address her complaints and their failure to treat her the same way as every other 'Price Is Right' model." The lawsuit was settled in 2013, according to Patch; details of the settlement were not made public.

They're allowed to make mistakes

In 2015, "The Price Is Right" taped an episode where a contestant had three guesses to identify the price of a brand new car. After the first incorrect guess, Manuela Arbeláez seemingly went on autopilot. Before the contestant could give another guess, Arbeláez pulled the second price on the list and revealed it was a winner, thereby accidentally giving away the grand prize. "Hey, congratulations!" Drew Carey told the contestant. "Manuela just gave you a car! Way to go, Manuela."

"I just zoned out. I literally did not see that coming." Arbeláez told the AP (via The Florida-Times Union). "My body took over and reacted before my brain had a chance to stop it." When the show went to commercial break, she spoke with producers, convinced she was going to be fired for the mistake. Thankfully, the producers were understanding. "They started laughing and told me of course I wouldn't be fired," she recalled.

She also noted that she wasn't the first to accidentally give away a prize on "The Price Is Right," pointing to a former model who once accidentally let a contestant have a trip to Disneyland. "There have been small things like that over the years," she said, "but I think my mistake was the most expensive in the history of the show." Making television history for the low, low price of $21,960? That price sounds right to us.

They're free to pursue other passions

One good aspect of being a model on "The Price Is Right" is that they don't have an exclusivity contract, meaning they are free to pursue other passions. James O'Halloran, for example, is also an actor. He's been on shows like "The Mindy Project" and "Superstore," and in 2023, he led the cast of the Hallmark Channel original film "When Love Springs." Speaking with the "Love and Lattes Podcast," O'Halloran explained that he sees his work with Hallmark as not all that different from what he does on "The Price Is Right." He said, "It feels like what we need right now is just, like, simple storylines that are uplifting and can sort of make people feel happy and, you know, make people feel good ... which is what 'The Price Is Right' is about, really, as well."

Another model with an extensive off-show resume is Amber Lancaster, who has a thriving following as an Instagram influencer. She led a single-season HGTV show called "Bought At First Site," where she worked as an interior designer, and she even runs a retail company called Broken Hearts Club. She told The Skinny Confidential that the clothing line was inspired by her son's medical needs. "I'm so proud of it," she said. "It's in one part to help promote and spread awareness for congenital heart defects."

They make a pretty good salary

In the early days of "The Price Is Right," the models complained about their low salaries. Kathleen Bradley told the Los Angeles Times that she made about $2,000 to film a week's worth of shows, which was significantly less than other, similar modeling gigs. "We were so underpaid for what we did on that show. People think we have so much money," she said.

Things have since changed. In 2021, Distractify reported "Price is Right" models earn about $800 per day of filming, which can mean multiple episodes shot at once. Not every model appears on every episode, so they don't all show up to each day of filming. Regardless, based on how many episodes most of the models film per year, we can estimate their yearly salaries at around $100K per year. 

The longer they stay with the show, the more money models might take home. Distractify reports that longtime model Rachel Reynolds is believed to have a net worth somewhere around $4 million, thanks to a reported $600,000 a year salary. Not too shabby.

Most of them seem to love their jobs

Original "The Price Is Right" model Janice Pennington contested her firing, leaving the show in 2000 under circumstances that had her wondering if her testimony against producers was being held against her. Still, she told ET that she holds great memories from her time on the show. "It was like a party every day," she said, giving particular kudos to the contestants who made everything exciting. "We actually laughed so much of the day and we had lunches together and it was fantastic to work there. Really, you looked forward to going in to work every day."

Current model Rachel Reynolds says pretty much the same thing. In 2021, she spoke with People about what her daily life is like on the show. She, too, draws inspiration from the contestants who compete on "The Price Is Right." "I still feel their excitement," she said, noting that the show's constantly-changing format and cast make each day feel new. "We have new contestants, different personalities," she said. "So, it's the last thing from being boring at all."

Reynolds also likes working for "The Price Is Right" because the show's flexibility has allowed her to have a family. She told Nola.com, "I have a dream job and a dream employer, who's made it simple for me to continue to be a working mom ... I love my job, and I'll stay as long as they'll have me."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).