British Columbia

Prince George trying to prove it's worthy of being the prize on The Price Is Right

Show producers also mistakenly used an image of Lake Louise to market the northern B.C. city, fueling social media mockery of the prize destination.

Haters took to social media to mock the B.C. destination when the contestant won

When Drew Carey, host of The Price Is Right, awarded contestant Stephen Witka a trip for two to Prince George, B.C., people were quick to take to social media and share what they thought of the central Interior city. (Twitter/The Price Is Right)

Stephen Witka seemed pretty thrilled when host Drew Carey told him he'd won a trip to Prince George, B.C., on The Price Is Right last month — but if he had checked social media after the show, his excitement may have waned.

When the California contestant appeared on the game show in mid-November, he won a six-night stay for two at the Treasure Cove Hotel in the central Interior city, as well as a $500 credit for the Grand Trunk Tavern and a limousine tour of the city.

But after the segment aired, social media users — many of them Prince George residents — began airing their negative thoughts about the city. Some expressed their sympathy to the winner, some warned Witka about the crime rates in the city, others just simply lol'd.

But now business owners in the city have rallied to prove the haters wrong and are ready to show Witka the time of his life.

One business is even prepared to make right a big hiccup broadcast to the millions of viewers of the show — when Witka learned of his prize, Prince George was illustrated with a picture of Lake Louise, Alta.

"That kind of sucked," said Amanda Chandler, marketing manager at The Treasure Cove Casino, which is adjacent to the prize hotel but actually a different company despite the name.

"Obviously, Prince George doesn't have those peaked mountains with the blue lake in between them," she said. 

But the casino has decided to foot the bill for a helicopter tour for Witka to Lake Louise, which is about 600 kilometres away.

"I was actually pretty appalled by the reaction online," Chandler added. "I thought it was really upsetting to see people's reactions that live here. We want to take that negative stigma and reaction this caused and turn it around."

But the chopper ride won't be the only highlight of Witka's win.

"When we were offering the prize, it was a no-brainer, it's beautiful here," said Connor Bull, general manager of the Treasure Cove Hotel, on CBC's Daybreak North.

Bull said people have already reached out to him, offering race-car track tours, winery tours and guided nature walks. 

"We are going to make sure they are entertained from the get-go," said Bull, who is confident that a trip for two to the province's northern capital is worth jumping up and down for.

Bull said he found the online mockery funny but was a little shocked, especially when the shade was thrown by locals. 

"I think they just forget to see the beauty in their backyard," he said.

Chandler has a plan for those local naysayers.

She said casino owners want to find something they can pay for them to do in the city that they may never have done before or don't realize exists, and then talk to them on camera afterwards to see if they have changed their tune.

The date when Witka will cash in his trip cannot be disclosed, but Bull said he has been in contact with him and the California resident is excited about all the additional goodies being added to his prize.

To hear the complete interview with Connor Bull on CBC's Daybreak North, tap the audio link below:

With files from Daybreak North and Andrew Kurjata