When a The Price is Right contestant competed for a trip to New Westminster and overestimated the price by $3,000, it led to a barrage of online mocking after the episode aired last Monday.
But Tourism New Westminster didn’t hide from the jokes being made at the city’s expense. It launched an online campaign to track down the contestant, known only by Phillip on the show, and invite him to the Lower Mainland city to experience the same trip he lost on The Price is Right.
“Of course it just made sense to bring Phillip here,” said Tourism New Westminster executive director Gerardo Corro. “It was a decision within the marketing team and the executive team here at Tourism New West, we consulted with the board and they were on board, so we just went for it!”
The hashtag #SearchForPhillip was born, and on Sunday, CTV News Vancouver found that contestant, an Arizona retiree named Phillip Fitzpatrick. The 64-year-old is an admitted Price is Right junkie who went to a taping in August for his birthday, and was picked out of the audience to compete.
“I’m sort of an engineer-type person, so I was studying prices and kept a little list of things to remember,” said Fitzpatrick. “And it seemed to help a lot, except for the game that I lost!”
While Fitzpatrick has been to Canada, he had never heard of New Westminster, and guessed way too high when he was asked what the six-night stay at the Inn and the Quay would cost. “It sounded really exciting, it sounded like it was going to be a lot more expensive than what the actual price was,” he said, adding that host Drew Carey was also shocked at how low the price was.
“I ended up looking it up later, because I thought surely this trip isn’t that inexpensive,” said Fitzpatrick, whose appearance was taped in August.
He was shocked and thrilled to learn Tourism New Westminster has been trying to find him to offer him that same trip.
“Yeah, this is surreal. I mean, when my friends and family found out about this, they’re like this could only happen to you,” he said. “I’m very thrilled and honoured they would take the time; this is a once in a lifetime kind of thing.”
Corro is relieved Phillip has been found, and that he’s eager to take Tourism New West up on their offer to bring him to B.C. “We are so happy about it, because we were worried, like what if we do all this and at the end Philip is nowhere to be found,” said Corro, who is now arranging details of Fitzpatrick’s all-expenses-paid trip to B.C.’s former capital.
“I was asking him, are you eager to be in the spotlight?” said Corro. “Because you are a local celebrity right now, so everybody is going to want to meet you.”
Local businesses and dignitaries are lining up for a chance to host Fitzpatrick during his stay in New West, including mayor Patrick Johnstone, who wants to buy him lunch.
“There are a bunch of good restaurants in downtown, I’d love to take a walk on the boardwalk, we have an award winning brewery at the end of the boardwalk that we can go down to if he’s into beer,” said Johnstone. “There is just a lot to see, a lot to do.”
“I jokingly said to one of my friends maybe I will get the key to the city,” said Fitzpatrick. “It will be exciting to say the least.”
The Price is Right fanatic says the upcoming trip has more than made up for not winning on the show
“This is so much better,” said Fitzpatrick. “I took at it as winning twice. I got to meet Drew Carey, and then I get to go on the trip too. So much better all the way around.”