Bob Barker retired in 2007 after 35 years on the long-running game show, which is now hosted by Drew Carey

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bob barker
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The Price Is Right is gearing up for its 50th season next month, and beloved former host Bob Barker can't help but get nostalgic over the monumental fete. 

"I'm often asked what I loved most about my years with Price, and the first thing that pops to mind is ... the money, of course!" Barker, 97, jokes in this week's issue of PEOPLE.

"All kidding aside, there was much to love. I had the pleasure of working with a dedicated and talented cast and crew for 35 great years. Particularly close to my heart was the ability our vast popularity gave me to remind our entire audience daily about the importance of spaying and neutering your pets," says Barker.

For more from Bob Barker and Drew Carey, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

Beginning in 1979, Barker signed off every episode with a message reminding people to "help control the pet population." It became synonymous with his name and helped normalize the practice in the United States. He retired in 2007 after 35 years.

When Drew Carey took over hosting duties from Barker, he says emulating the game show legend wasn't an option.

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Drew Carey
| Credit: Ella DeGea/CBS

"I knew I could never be Bob, and I wasn't going to try to be Bob," says the 63-year-old star of the 1995-2004 sitcom The Drew Carey Show. "We went out to lunch, and his advice was, 'Don't try to copy me. Just make it your own show.'"

Now as Carey begins his 15th season on Sept. 15, he says it's hard to believe how much time has passed.

"There's so many things that have happened in my personal life while I've been on this show. My son Connor is 16 now, and I've watched him grow up. In a lot of ways I feel like I've been here my whole life," he says.

The Price Is Right returns Sept. 15 on CBS.