‘Cash Cab’ host Ben Bailey recalls his most memorable passengers

Posing as a cabbie in New York City, it’s not surprising Ben Bailey has picked up some pretty interesting passengers during his seven years as host of “Cash Cab.”

“We had people, especially in the beginning before they knew what the show was, who thought I was just some crazy cabbie,” he said. “They literally would just open the door and get out without saying one word.”

Once the show gained popularity, people began seeking out the host’s minivan cab for the chance to win thousands. The game show returns to Discovery Channel Monday with a new and improved reboot after being canceled in 2012.

Before its return, we asked Bailey about the passengers that are still stuck in his mind, more than a decade after the show’s 2005 premiere.

“We had a family come all the way from Kansas to New York with the sole purpose to find me in the Cash Cab and they did,” Bailey said. While the host drives around the city, he admitted he filmed many scenes in midtown.

The family achieved their goal out of pure luck. Bailey said they just so happened to see him while crossing the street in Times Square between 47th Street and Seventh Avenue.

“I was just waiting to see if they were going to hail because I was open, but when they finally did, they got in and couldn’t speak because they were so nervous,” he said. You didn’t see the family on the show, though — they didn’t answer any questions at all.

Most of the other passengers Bailey remembered best were ones that didn’t make it into episodes either.

Take this man who was convinced he was a part of a “Cash Cab” scam, for example: “There was one guy, we pulled over for him to do a street shout out and he thought the people on the corner were working for us, like we had planted them there. We had driven like 20 blocks from where we picked him up. I’m like, ‘uh, it’s a cable show, dude. We don’t have, a budget to plant people on corners all over the city.’ He ended up just getting up and leaving. It was funny later, it wasn’t funny when it was happening.”

And, of course, he’s dealt with his fair share of inebriated passengers.

“One guy was really drunk and he got in, moved to the middle of the seat and put both seat buckle straps around him and refused to get out of the cab,” he recalled.

But to date, the most memorable passenger remains a man who became the highest-winner in “Cash Cab” history in 2011, nabbing $6,200 on his own.

Will he be dethroned as the shows reigning champ? The series returns at 10 p.m. Dec. 4.

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