From Carnegie to reality TV: Pomona professor John Seery strikes a deal with game show appearance

An older man wears a jazz band costume and holds a saxophone.
Seery appeared on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ in a marching band uniform, brandishing a baritone saxophone. (Courtesy: John Seery)

For Pomona College politics professor John Seery, a mission to provide students with a learning opportunity turned into the experience of a lifetime: a star appearance on the popular game show “Let’s Make A Deal.”

To win the game show, contestants, known as traders, must decide whether to keep the objects they are given or exchange them for an unseen item of potentially greater value.

The episode — season 13, episode 128 — aired April 1 and showcased Seery clad in a marching band uniform and brandishing a baritone saxophone, seemingly having the time of his life as he won a Southern California coastal yacht trip. Currently hosted by comedian Wayne Brady, the game show is known for contestants attempting to increase their chances of getting selected by wearing outrageous costumes.

When asked how he got the opportunity, however, Seery made one thing very clear: “I want to say it was an existential test to see whether there’s any bottom to my general lack of self-respect,” he said in an interview.

Seery taught a first-year seminar called “The Idea of Money” for the third time last semester, a class whose course description boasts the opportunity to attend a taping of “The Price is Right.” The first attempt to go to the show was foiled by Los Angeles traffic a few years ago, and COVID-19 eliminated any chance at attending in fall 2020. This year, Seery was hopeful he could make it happen, but COVID-19 complicated things once again when “The Price is Right” suspended Hollywood tapings.

But then, Seery said, “out of the blue last semester, I got an email seeking Southern California educators to audition for ‘Let’s Make A Deal.’ So I thought, hmm, maybe I could swap out ‘The Price is Right’ with ‘Let’s Make A Deal.’”

At the time, the casting producer told Seery there would be an in-studio audience, so he thought he would be able to bring his students with him. However, Seery discovered after he was selected that there wouldn’t be an audience after all.

The producers also asked Seery what his “bit” would be, since contestants are required to come in costume this season: “I said, ‘well, uh, I play the saxophone. Maybe I could come up with a marching band uniform.’ They said, ‘great, that’s it!’”

On the verge of backing out multiple times, Seery cited the discovery of an incredible marching band uniform owned by his wife’s aunt, as well as sheer curiosity and the fact he’d made it that far, as reasons to continue.

“I pursue truth wherever it leads me,” he joked.

Despite proclaimed efforts to hide his television debut from the 5C community, Seery couldn’t resist sending his students a clip of him playing the saxophone on the show.

“I was thoroughly impressed both in his saxophone prowess and ability to look so dapper in the band uniform,” Liam Lynch PO ’25 said.

Seery’s steller cameo can be viewed on Paramount Plus. For broke college students, the service offers a weeklong free trial.

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