Veteran scores big with the right price

For the first time in his discouraging life, the price was finally right for San Mateo resident Michael Resendez in December.

The army veteran, now 36, suffered a fall in 1993 off a 5-ton truck in Fort Lewis, Wash., while in military training, sending him into a 10-day coma. Resendez fractured his lower back, broke six bones in his right leg and hemorrhaged his brain in six different places, causing severe amnesia.

His Veterans Affairs and Social Security checks since then have failed to keep up with his bills and child-support payments for his two kids. PG&E was also preparing to shut off his power. So with $100 in his pocket, Resendez borrowed hiswife’s car and journeyed in early December with his friend to Los Angeles with one goal: to appear on the CBS game show, “The Price is Right.”

Resendez and his friend, 25-year-old Daly City resident James Pappas, attended two episode tapings on Dec. 6. During the morning taping, Resendez was one of the show’s winners and advanced to the final “Showcase Showdown,” where he beat his opponent to earn the show’s grand prize. He took home a total of $35,000, including a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid.

The winnings could not have come at a better time for Resendez, who managed to keep his electricity on after winning. He is selling his prizes on eBay.

“I’m just trying to survive on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s tough times.”

Landlords kicked Resendez out from four other Peninsula homes for growing medical marijuana, which he considers his job because he is disabled. He smokes to ease the pain he still feels from his accident.

“Life’s been tough on him,” said his wife, Vera. “This is a little ray of sunshine and happiness and he definitely deserves it. It happened at the right moment.”

During the Dec. 6 morning taping, Pappas jumped up and down in celebration with Resendez, game show host Drew Carey and the models while the show’s signature music played. But Pappas’ day of fun was not yet over.

In the afternoon taping, Pappas was also told to “come on down.” After winning a few rounds of price-guessing games, he spun a perfect $1 on the “big wheel” and captured the afternoon episode’s grand prize — $35,000, including a 2008 Dodge Caliber.

“We took ‘The Price is Right’ for 70 grand in one day,” said Pappas, who works full time and said he will sell the car while keeping his other prizes.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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