Can You Really Win A Wii As A Carnival Prize?

You're looking at the summer street carnival in my home stomping grounds of Spanish Harlem, New York, as seen from the top of a great big ferris wheel. I've written before about how many here face challenging economic circumstances, but during the summer, the neighborhood is quite a lovely community, especially when this carnival is in town. It becomes a favorite hangout, people set up outdoor barbecues nearby, and it's warm, fun times.

There's also a thriving gamer community here, as I've said before - as with the informal "subway survey" that Stephen Totilo shared here during his stint as guest editor, I see a lot of PSPs, primarily. Lots of people are interested in the Wii, though - and it isn't any easier to get one here than it is to score one anyplace else. When I got mine, my local game store had exactly one, and sold it at an especially high price.

So imagine my surprise when I found six Wiis in the wilds of Spanish Harlem - as prizes in one of the carnival games.

Can You Really Win A Wii As A Carnival Prize?

I asked the game's operator if anyone has ever won one of the Wiis, and he said that in fact, people do occasionally win video game consoles from his game stand. As you can see from the picture, there were PS3s and Xbox 360s, too - these are all empty boxes, but they correspond to actual prizes, which surprised me a little.

Interestingly, the carnival employee told me that usually, when people win a PS3 or a 360, they sell it back to him for its value in cash. When someone wins a Wii, though, they always, always keep it.

"People are always trying to buy them from me straight out," the game operator said.

And does he sell them? Never, he told me - even when people have offered him $600 or $700 for one. In case you've forgotten, we're talking about a console that retails for $249. Carnivals just want to make money, right? So why wouldn't the operator sell a Wii for $700 if someone offered?

"They're just too hard to get," he said.