Monica Stinson

The realization that winning a jackpot on a television game show is, on balance, not really as lucky as it is just and deserved, seems odd, but that is the case with Monica Stinson, who won a car, a trip to Europe and a guitar recently on The Price is Right.

The wife of E.B. Morse K4 teacher Dexter Stinson has gone through a painful amount of adversity, always with her eyes on the prize.

Dexter and Monica Stinson are both from families with Southern roots. Both grew up in Philadelphia. Both came from families that had migrated from South Carolina. Both came back and graduated from Newberry College.

Monica’s first marriage was to an abusive husband. Dexter, whom she has known for most of her life, became her charm, but life was never easy. She spent years disabled by job-related stress and serious medical and physical issues.

By her account, Monica almost died three times. For three years, she received treatment at Jefferson Hospital in Pennsylvania. She went through three cycles of iron infusions. Doctors could not determine the cause of her inability to build up a healthy amount of iron in her blood. Eventually, they found a 3.5-pound benign tumor that had wrapped itself around a major blood vessel, and the blood was flowing directly into the tumor. A laser hysterectomy took 6-1/2 hours to complete. Medication caused her to lose control of her balance.

Dexter cared for her and, at times, she was unable to drink water.

While disabled, Monica researched her genealogy and watched The Price Is Right. Much to her amazement, she found via DNA testing that she represents nine different ethnicities, including Aztec, Central American, American Indian, Asian Indian, Italian, Sierra Leon and Jewish. Her great-great grandfather fought as an Indian scout in the Civil War. When she says she’d like to travel around the world, she has ancestors who have been there.

Monica was born on the day, April 4, 1968, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated.

“I came in on the day Dr. King went out,” she said.

On her birthday, Monica and Dexter flew to Los Angeles, where they attended The Steve Harvey Show and The Price Is Right.

“My entire life has been chaotic,” Monica said, but when she became the last person in the studio audience to “go onstage” – to “come on down!” – to the Showcase Showdown, advance to the Showdown, and then win status as Ultimate Fan and the loaded Subaru Impreza hatchback that comes with it, all the stress, all the tension and all the anxiety of suffering left her body, she said.                                                                           

She also won a trip to Venice and a custom-made guitar. After a lifetime of curses, she was suddenly blessed. A woman who spent so much of her life with odds aligned against her, suddenly came across a pot of gold at the end of an unexpected rainbow.

Monica has always watched game shows, in part to occupy her mind while fighting her illnesses. She was on Wheel of Fortune in 2005 … and won over $12,000.

Monica has four sons, ages 32, 31, 26 and 14. The 26-year-old, Steve, works for an airline. He gave her a gift of being able to fly free around the world. Instead, she chose to fly to Los Angeles to go on her favorite game show for her 50th birthday. Australia, she decided, would have to wait.

She and the other finalist had to bid on a kayak, of all things. Monica had no experience with kayaks, but, strangely, she had been drawn to the kayaks she saw hanging at Walmart and stared at them every time she went there. At the time, she didn’t know why, but when she had to bid on one, she knew what it cost.

Then she went conservative on the car … and missed it by $9,000. The other finalist missed it by $2,000, but he missed it on the high end, and that a contestant cannot do.

She won. She won!

“Oh, my God,” Monica said. “It has everything. It has that safety feature that stops you so you don’t wreck.”

Monica is going to make it her car for now, but when 14-year-old Dexter Stinson Jr. (“D.J.” for short) goes off to college, she said, he’s taking it with him.