OCEANSIDE — Adam Riojas, a pastor from Oceanside Calvary Chapel, was almost certain he wouldn’t be chosen as a contestant on “The Price is Right” television game show, and he definitely didn’t expect to win thousands of dollars in prizes.
He had only seen the show once decades ago and thought the game was rather boring, and made the mistake of telling the contestant interviewer just that.
“There’s no way I’m going to get close to even get called,” he recalled thinking.
Not only that, but Riojas doesn’t have a history of good luck.
Nine years ago, Riojas served 13 years in California prisons for a murder he didn’t commit. He was eventually released in 2004 after the true murderer, Riojas’s father, admitted the crime on his deathbed.
He attended a taping of the show at a CBS studio in Los Angeles as a staff event with about 30 other members from Calvary Chapel in late January.
Riojas and his coworkers agreed that he blew the interview and set their hopes on someone else from their group getting the chance to win big.
“The excitement in there is way beyond anything I can even describe,” Riojas said about the filming.
During the first half of the show, the food minister from Riojas’s church, Vickii Ceballos, was called to compete and walked away with $20,000 in cash, a weight machine, refrigerator, television and a camera.
Riojas said that the staff was thrilled for Ceballos, who he said works hard feeding more than 3,000 people per month and doesn’t make a lot of money.
But the thrill wasn’t over for the Calvary Chapel crew.
“The second part of the show starts, and I’m the first person called and we all go crazy,” said Riojas.
He was given the chance to compete for prizes after besting other contestants by coming up with the closest guess on six pairs of women’s shoes.
Riojas eventually won his way into competing in the grand finale showcase.
“Then I just literally lost it, yelling and screaming like I never have,” he said.
With a lucky guess, he won a Jeep Patriot, new computer, and a four-night trip to Washington D.C.
He plans on taking the trip with his wife and young daughter in late April and selling the Jeep to fund further renovations on his mother’s house.
“It’s like money came down from heaven for me,” he said.