LONG BEACH — With a big smile, Department of Licensing clerk, Millora Westerlund, stood behind the counter at the Pacific County Annex office recently and recalled the most fun experience of her life (so far.) It was the day she stood on stage with game-show host Drew Carey after hearing the magic words, “Come on down!”
Westerlund was living in Seabeck at the time, but had grown up and lived for 40 years in Forks.
“Our friends in Forks had been married for 50 years and she’d always wanted to go to ‘The Price Is Right.’ So, 23 of us got together, all wearing Forks T-shirts,” Westerlund said.
The show aired in January 2011, about a month after its Dec. 7 taping. But even though it’s been a few years, the experience is still clear and exciting in Westerlund’s mind.
Getting on the show in the first place was quite a process.
Contestants aren’t randomly chosen. They basically have to work for the opportunity with patience and interviews by the show’s producers.
Westerlund said, “You stand in line for about four hours. You move a little bit. They interview you. You move a little more and they interview you again. The questions are just real quick, like how’d you get here and what do you expect to get.”
Her name also brought an interesting response. “I remember that one of the guys said, ‘Millora – is that how you say it?’ And I said, ‘You say it however you want, as long as you call me down.” And that, they did.
Westerlund’s nickname is Lori, but she said, “They’ve got to go with whatever is on your driver’s license.”
Smiling at the memory, Westerlund spoke about how calm the members of her entourage remained as the group of “quiet folks” from Forks sat in the audience. But with a combination of her naturally exuberant personality and the producers’ directions to act excited, she couldn’t help herself. “They played music you want to dance to and just keep going, so I was up there dancing in my seat.”
It wasn’t long before she heard, “Come on down!”
Once she was on the stage with host Carey, she was put to the golf test.
“I won golf clubs and I’d never golfed in my life.” And to add to the challenge, she had to hit a ball into a hole. She sunk it on one try! And that move led to win the big prize, a new Chevrolet Aveo.
So, when you win a car, do you just drive it home? No.
Since she lived in Washington state, “The Price Is Right” arranged for her to pick out a new car at a dealership just 15 miles from her home. She had to choose the same make and model, “But I could pick the color.”
Did she keep the car? Not for long.
“Not for even a week,” she admitted. “My husband is a big guy and we’ve got big trucks, so I traded it right back into the Chevy dealer and bought my husband a new truck.”
After leaving the show and returning home, she was still in awe of what had happened. “The Price Is Right” had such a history.
The show started in September 1972 with host Bob Barker, who stayed with it for 35 years. Westerlund had watched it growing up and was a big Bob Barker fan.
She lost a little interest when Carey took over the hosting duties in 2007, but soon became a Carey fan.
She was a contestant the year a newly svelte Carey revealed the secrets to his near 100-pound weight loss. In just 10 months, his zero-carb, zero-sugar plan not only took off the weight, but also reversed his Type 2 diabetes.
Westerlund’s quick wit and naturally bubbly personality undoubtedly gave her the edge to be picked as a contestant. Those traits still serve her well as she works behind the DOL counters. She’s a people-person with a great enthusiasm for life in general and it shows.
These days, she lives in Naselle and works for Pacific County DOL three days a week, one at the Annex on Sandridge and the other two in South Bend, where she said she “fills in.” She said she’s been working for the county “going on two years.”
Being on The Price Is Right is definitely the highlight of her life.
“I’ve had fun most of my life – a lot of fun.”
But, she said, nothing tops being on a stage with Drew Carey and winning a car.