Let's Make A Deal
(TV Hit Game Show Series

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Let's Make a Deal is a television game show which originated in the United States and has since been produced in many countries throughout the world. The show is based around deals offered to members of the audience by the host. The traders usually have to weigh the possibility of an offer for valuable prizes, or undesirable items, referred to as "Zonks". Let's Make a Deal is also known for the various unusual and crazy costumes worn by audience members, who dressed up that way in order to increase their chances of being selected as a trader.  The show was hosted for many years by Monty Hall, who co-created and co-produced the show with Stefan Hatos. The current version is hosted by Wayne Brady, with Jonathan Mangum (announcer), Tiffany Coyne (model), and Cat Gray (live musician) assisting.

Game Play

Each episode of Let's Make a Deal consists of several "deals" between the host and a member or members of the audience as traders. Audience members are picked at the host's whim as the show moves along, and couples are often selected to play together as traders. The deals are mini-games within the show that take several formats.

In the simplest format, a trader is given a prize of medium value (such as a television set), and the host offers them the opportunity to trade for another prize. However, the offered prize is unknown. It might be concealed on the stage behind one of three curtains, or behind "boxes" onstage (large panels painted to look like boxes), within smaller boxes brought out to the audience, or occasionally in other formats. The initial prize given to the trader may also be concealed, such as in a box, wallet or purse, or the trader might be initially given a box, envelope or curtain. The format varies widely.

Technically, traders are supposed to bring something to trade in, but this rule has seldom been enforced. On several occasions, a trader is actually asked to trade in an item such as their shoes or purse, only to receive the item back at the end of the deal as a "prize". On at least one occasion, the purse was taken backstage and a high-valued prize was placed inside of it.

Prizes generally are either a legitimate prize, cash, or a "Zonk". Legitimate prizes run the gamut of what is typically given away on game shows, including trips, electronics, furniture, appliances, and cars. Zonks are unwanted booby prizes (e.g., live animals, large amounts of food, fake money, fake trips or something outlandish such as a giant article of clothing, a room full of junked furniture, etc.). Sometimes Zonks are legitimate prizes but of a low value (e.g., Matchbox cars, wheelbarrows, T-shirts, grocery prizes, etc.). On rare occasions, a trader appears to get Zonked, but the Zonk is a cover-up for a legitimate prize.

Though usually considered joke prizes, traders legally win the Zonks. However, after the taping of the show, any trader who had been Zonked is offered a consolation prize (currently $100) instead of having to take home the actual Zonk. This is partly because some of the Zonks are intrinsically or physically impossible to receive or deliver to the traders (such as live animals or the guy in an animal costume), or the props/employees are owned by the studio. A disclaimer at the end of the credits of later 1970s episodes read "Some traders accept reasonable duplicates of Zonk prizes." Starting in the 2012–13 season, CBS invited viewers to provide Zonk ideas to producers. At the end of the season, the Zonk declared the most creative was worth $2,500 to the winner, and other viewers' Zonk ideas were also used. For every viewer-developed Zonk, the host announced the viewer who provided the Zonk. The contest has been renewed for its second season in 2013.

Quickie Deals

As the end credits of the show roll, it is typical for the host to ask random members of the studio audience to participate in fast deals. In the current Wayne Brady version, these are often referred on the CBS version as "quickie deals", and are conducted by the host, announcer, and model each. CBS will post information on the show's Twitter address (@LetsMakeDealCBS) days before taping to encourage audience members to carry and win additional cash for carrying such items. The deals are usually in the form of the following:

  • Offering cash to one person in the audience who had a certain item on them.
  • Offering a small cash amount for each item of a certain quantity.
  • Offering cash for each instance of a particular digit as it occurred in the serial number on a dollar bill, driver's license, etc.
  • Offering to pay the last check in the person's checkbook, if they had one, up to a certain limit (usually $500 or $1,000

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