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In the game show of life, some people win trips to Hawaii and others...well, they get a lovely set of luggage. Not everyone gets to win the top prize in a contest or game show, but this fact is not always easy to swallow. This is usually when a consolation prize makes its welcomed appearance. This is generally a parting gift offered to contestants who either did not win their competition or failed to appear onstage at all. It is intended to console the contestants who can only watch the winner walk away with the big prize money or the luxury automobile.
What constitutes a consolation prize varies from contest to contest. Some game shows may use donated items from sponsors as parting gifts to losing contestants, while others may have a prize for placing in second or third place. In the spirit of offering actual consolation, this type of prize is often something of fairly substantial value, such as a new computer or set of high-quality luggage. While it may not be as valuable as a new car or trip to an island paradise, the item could prove to be very useful or satisfying to the contestant who receives it.
Sometimes a consolation prize is connected thematically to the grand prize. While the winner may be traveling to Rome, Italy, the runner-up might receive an elaborate dinner at an expensive Italian restaurant. The winner of a contest might drive away in a sports car, but the second place winner may receive NASCAR-related clothing and memorabilia.
Not all contests or game shows offer consolation prizes to the losing contestants, or they may allow the players to keep whatever winnings they accrued during the game. A consolation prize may only consist of the experience of being in a television studio or meeting a favorite celebrity or two.
Offering some sort of consolation prize to finalists of a contest is generally considered to be good form, since it does create a sense of goodwill towards the sponsors of the event. This can be very important if the contest is held on a regular basis or the game show needs to attract a fresh supply of contestants.