Q: Do contestants on "Let's Make a Deal" get to keep Zonk prizes, or are they just for display?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Technically, neither.

Zonks are pitfalls built into the game — comically bad prizes contestants get when they're hoping for good ones. They're items like goats, trips to places that don't exist, or cars that have gone through trash compactors. But even if the contestant wants what they "won," they can't have it. This is generally for practical purposes. For example, it would be more expensive to ship a goat to someone than it would be to give them a real, flashy prize.

Sometimes the Zonk is a "Let's Make a Deal" crew member dressed up as a boxing kangaroo — that would be another expensive shipment and, also, they presumably need the crew member for filming the next day.

That said, Zonks aren't just a joke. Contestants get a check for $100 instead.

Interestingly, the Zonks pretty much always cost more than $100 to make, as noted when Parade magazine interviewed Timothy Feimster, the person in charge of producing the Zonks for each episode.

Feimster said he leads a team with three builders and two assistants, and a shop equipped with 3D printing equipment and a whole range of other tools. Their labor alone is worth hundreds of dollars a day, without even considering the cost of acquiring the raw materials such as rusted-out old boats and trashed classic cars.


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