IAmA Wheel of Fortune champion! My episode aired on March 17, 2020 during College Week Spring Break. I was the one that repped Ball State and won $65,930 including a trip to Barbados!
Being on Wheel of Fortune was everything that I dreamed of. I felt like I was experiencing Heaven, literally. I solved “MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS” and “WAVY OCEAN” in the bonus round!
Feel free to AMA, I’m an open book!
It’s very strange to peak this early in my life lol, but nonetheless, it’s a great feeling to peak this early and I’m grateful for all of the support and to have had the opportunity to appear on my favorite show.
Did you freeze up any? I’ve always been really great at WoF, but I know that if I were actually to go on television, I’d panic!
Surprisingly, I didn’t freeze up. My legs shook before getting onto my podium to play and during commercial breaks when we’d step down from our spots briefly and they would tell us what round would be next.
I felt like I was at home when I was at the set!
Hi Christian! I was watching when you won and you brought so much joy in that thirty minutes! Thank you for that! Are you usually this happy? How are you and your parents doing during this time?
Of course! Yes, I am usually this happy. I am always smiling even during bad times. I’m just grateful and happy to be a part of life and I’m grateful for people like you!
My parents and I are doing good during this time, we are staying home, safe, and healthy! I hope you’re doing well!
Thank you and I hope you never lose that Love for life! What do you plan to do after graduating from college?
Of course and thank you!! I plan to hopefully work for a local news station and be a news reporter/anchor, but my dream job is to work for Wheel of Fortune once I graduate! I would want to be one of the contestant coordinators that help choose the contestants and travel across the U.S.
I’m guessing that trip to Barbados isn’t happening anytime soon?
You have a year from your air date to take the trip. I’m planning on taking the trip next year in 2021 hopefully.
Let’s hope so. Is it all inclusive?
Yes, it is all inclusive. The trip is all paid for (airfare, hotel, etc.)
I don't know Where you live, but you have to fly out of LA though, correct?
I can fly out from Indiana (where I live)
Do they give you a cash option on trips?
Yes, they do give you a cash option on trips. You can trade in the trip for a cash equivalent
Did you see how much they would give you?
Correction: I just found out that there is NO cash option replacement for trips.
No, I did not unfortunately.
Nice, a buddy of mine lives in Barbados and says it’s absolutely beautiful. The weather is apparently the best between December and March. So you should be safe to travel by then!
Awesome!! Thank you for that vital info!
What are your top 3 go to letters that aren’t R S T L N E?
Outside of R S T L N E, I usually do C, D, and sometimes M.
What’s your go to vowel?
Go to vowel outside of E would definitely be I
Congratulations on your win. What are some behind-the-scenes rules that most people don't know about?
Thank you! Can you clarify behind-the scenes rules?
I've heard in between takes you're not allowed to look at the audience or anything like that. I've heard that they are strick about some rules. It's all from people who know a guy, who had a friend who was on the show. In other words, all secondhand information. Was there anything strange that they were strict about? Any rules that suprised you?
-For some reason, you can’t reveal your air date to the public until 2 weeks before your episode airs
-You couldn’t communicate with guests that you brought with you until after your episode taped. This was to prevent cheating
-You can’t take any notes during taping (also to prevent cheating)
-This one surprised me, but you can’t reveal your tape date until after your episode airs. I’m not sure why that exactly is.
-Cell phones must be completely turned off
-You can’t yell out the puzzle or else they’ll throw it out for a new one and that they’d have to stop tape to replace it with a new puzzle.
My friend was on Jeopardy! a few years back and Wheel tapes right across. The rules they gave us were very serious. We weren't allowed to look at her or talk at all. When they gave us a bathroom break, we were taken by someone that worked on the crew. He was super nice and tried to get us to meet people on the Goldbergs. The show walkied and yelled at us to get our asses back to the set. So cool you got to do this and congrats on your win!
Oh wow! That’s awesome! And thank you so much!
Happy cake day!
How is the banter with Pat and Vanna and the contestants? Are they genuinely interested in the chit chat, or are they going through the motions after thousands of episodes?
Pat and Vanna are very interested in the chit chat. Vanna told me that I made the game look so easy. I don’t really remember what else we talked about during the end, it was a blur sadly😢
That’s so sweet that Vanna said that to you. I totally get that everything is a blur thing. You want to remember every little moment and then it’s just over. Lol
Exactly! I wanted to remember everything, but it’s just a blur lol it went by so fast but I soaked it all in as much as I could while being in the present every moment I could.
How hard is it to spin the wheel?
It wasn’t as hard as I thought. The wheel weighs 2400 pounds and I didn’t have as hard of a time spinning as I thought.
2400 pounds! So it is big in real life.
It is!! The puzzle board is also bigger than it looks on TV. It takes up the far right half of your field of vision while playing.
2400 lbs? It looks huge, you can tell it’s heavy, the force people have to use to spin it. Did you only need one spin or two? How close to $1.00 did you get?
Wheel of Fortune, not Price is Right.
Is that the game with the yodeling man that falls off the cliff?
That would be Cliffhanger.
What's your first memory of Wheel of Fortune and what was the spark that made you a huge fan?
My first memory of Wheel was when I was around 5 or 6 years old. I’ve been watching the show since I was 9 months old, but my earliest memories with the show was when I was around 6 years old and I would just chant along with the show’s chant when it would come on. The video game versions with Vanna that I played is what I remember the most. Just seeing her on the screen made me a huge fan of not only her, but the show.
I take it was a big moment meeting her in person.
It really was! After the closing credits, I asked her for a hug and she gave me one. I almost wanted to faint at that moment. She told me, “You made it [the game] look so easy!” With a bright smile.
Is there a board or something to keep track of what letters have already been called, or do you have to do it all in your head?
Yes, there is a board (off-camera) that helps you to keep track of the category and what letters have been called.
What color is your toothbrush?
The color of my toothbrush is black. It’s a Gleam spinbrush.
Oki, thx! Oh, and also, happy cake day!
Of course! And thank you! It’s very fitting to have my Reddit cake day fall on Easter Sunday 😂
Hey, is vanna actually touching the boxes as they appear or is it really just a big green screen?
She touches the black bar on the side of each tile, and she actually touches it.
Did you visit Frog Baby before you left for your taping?
Unfortunately I didn’t, but I should’ve though!!😭
You can see Benny instead when you get back. Seems fitting. Congrats!
Thank you so much!!
How much did you pay on taxes? Did you receive it as a lump sum or over the years? Did you invest/put some away or hire a financial advisor? Thanks!!
I received my winnings as a lump sum. I paid about 17,000 in taxes.
So you netted around 35,000!?
Yeah something like that
I’ve seen people spin over and over again when it is obvious what the answer to the puzzle is. Is that a recommended strategy or would you advise solving the puzzle as soon as you know it?
I would advise to solve it as soon as you know it. I know people have a gambling side to them and would want to spin for more money, unless if you don’t genuinely know the puzzle, but I would solve it while you’re still in control of the round. I also would advise that you have at least $1000 or more in your possession before solving to make sure you don’t get the house minimum.
How did you prepare? Also I’ve always wondered, before the show are you given any idea of the type of questions/ categories that will be given?
I prepared by playing the video game versions of Wheel beforehand. We are given a category overview packet and we go over the categories before we tape. They tape 6 shows in one day and we have lots of time rehearsing (spinning the wheel, calling letters, playing practice rounds, etc.) they also give us tips like to buy vowels, focusing on the category, etc.
When you say "category overview packet", do you just mean a packet explaining the categories in case you've never watched the show? Or does it give you an idea in advance of what might be in your specific taping?
A combination of both. It’s a packet that explains the categories in case you aren’t familiar with the show and gives you an idea of what the categories could be during our specific taping.
Omg, I am so obsessed with the mobile game right now. Taking my mind of this stressful time. Maybe I'll get to stand where you stood someday! Your smile is also very infectious. Great job, Christian!
Yes!! I haven’t played Wheel of Fortune Free Play in a while but I may get back to playing it for sure! I play the PlayStation 4 version of Wheel and it’s so much fun! I play online against other players and it’s so intense! Thank you so much!!! I hope you get on the show one day!
Wow, apparently there are a lot of comments about this "Chad" dude. Was he controversial on the show or something?
Also, do you get "paid" to be on the show for the day? (Even if you win nothing do you still get at least a salary for being on)?
If you win nothing on the show, you do get a $1,000 consolation prize just for being on the show. The $1,000 is NOT taxed, but if you do win more than $1,500, the money gets taxed.
About Chad though, I’m not sure what’s going on with him but I heard Dave spilled a lot of tea on him!😂
You do have to put yourself up in a hotel and book your flight to and from California though. Wheel is not responsible for covering travel expenses.
I thought all the contestants keep winnings from the rounds that they win. And the overall winner gets the bonus round.
How much do you have to pay in taxes on your winnings?
Depends on how much you win. In my case, I have to pay somewhere around 17 and 22% in taxes so I’ll get to walk away with a little over 40K after they’re done taking their share.
So that tax covers the cash prize you won and also the taxes on the trip as well?
I believe so.
What was the coolest off-camera moment(s) you experienced?
I’ll never forget when after my show was over I asked Vanna for a hug and she gave me one. I almost wanted to faint! Seeing Vanna in the video game versions of Wheel that I’d play as a little boy to seeing her up close was a dream come true. Another good off-camera moment was after the bonus round win and Pat came over and told me he wanted to mic me up and explain my bonus round strategy to him and Vanna at the end of the show, I was mind blown when he had said that.
Don't leave us hanging, what was your bonus round strategy??
My bonus round strategy:
So, the category was “PLACE” and when the E and the N was given to me from the R S T L N E, I immediately knew the second part of the puzzle was “OCEAN”. For the first word, I was thinking of things that were associated with the ocean and I was thinking of the waves. Thinking of waves led me to think of an adjective closely related to the waves and I thought of “WAVY”. I did know the puzzle before I called my letters C, W, V, and A.
Wheel likes to add really weird adjectives with letters that are least commonly called to try to throw players off. Especially in the bonus round. So my biggest tip is to study your adjectives.
Did you have to pay taxes on your winnings? We watched the episode!! Congrats on your big win!
Thank you so much! Yes, I had to pay taxes on my winnings.
Congrats on your win! How are you handling online classes now?
Thank you!! Online classes — I’m so ready for the year to be over lol I’m over online classes. Wish I can take a real rest without having to worry about online classes 😂
Yep Im in the same boat best of luck less than 3 weeks to go
Thanks man! Best of luck to you too! We can push through
Congrats! I’ve done some reality TV and sometimes when they interview you, they ask you to re-state certain things, to condense a phrase etc. Were you asked to re-do any personal questions or any banter?
Thankfully, I wasn’t asked to re-do any personal banter/questions. And thank you so much!!
I know someone probably already asked this but how did you get on?
I applied online on Wheel’s website, and then about a couple weeks later I got invited to an in-person audition and then in January they called me and told me I got selected for the show! The episode was filmed on February 6th.
I'll ask you what I asked the last one.
Did you watch a lot of show to prepare? Do you have a weird brain?
I played the PS4 version of Wheel. I played online against online players. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2, but I have savant abilities. I also played the several video game versions where Vanna was the host and I play on their Twitter Toss up challenges a lot to help improve my puzzle solving agility
Thanks for repping BSU so well! My wife and I are both alums and it was great to watch. What was the selection process to get on the show?
Of course! I’m so glad to have repped Ball State! I applied online for the show in May 2019 and 10 days later I got invited to audition and auditioned on June 4. 7 months later in January I got a call from Wheel asking me if I wanted to rep Ball State on College Week and I said yes!
I’m not sure if I missed it, but what was the process like in order to get on the show?:)
On May 12, 2019, I decided to give Wheel another try by applying again, but this time around as a college student. I was near the end of my senior year of high school and I was going to be attending Ball State in the fall and I thought to myself, “Why not apply as a college student?” So, I did. 10 days later, I open up and checked my Ball State email and see a message from Wheel Watchers Club with the subject line saying, “WE WANT YOU TO AUDITION”. I couldn’t believe it, they want me to audition!! I almost didn’t make it to my final audition because my dad was skeptical about taking me to Detroit to audition for the show, but thankfully my mother came in and played devil’s advocate and he ended up taking me to that audition (thanks mom lol)
On June 4th, my dad and I took the trip to Detroit for my audition at the Atheneum Suite Hotel on the 8th floor. Shannon, Jackie, and Teddy were at my audition, however, Alex was not at my audition. The audition was at 3pm and I was very nervous. I auditioned with about 50-60 other people and it was an amazing experience! I was excited the whole time and I even solved a puzzle during the several mock puzzles we played. The contestant exam was tough. 5 minutes to solve 16 puzzles, each with a couple of letters given to help. I ended up getting 11/16 right, which surprised me. The contestant coordinators then went away to grade everyone’s exams and while we were waiting we got to watch Wheel’s 4000th episode (aired November 10, 2003). I ended up making the cut as the contestant coordinators wanted to see me play more because of my high score on the exam and since I only got to guess one letter and solve during the several mock puzzles we played.
The hardest part was waiting for the letter, which unfortunately I did not get the letter, I was looking at my mailbox every day for the next 2-3 weeks but no letter came. However, on January 22nd, I got an email and call from Jackie and she had asked me if I was a college student at Ball State now (keep in mind, I auditioned when I was 3 days away from graduating high school) and I said yes and she told me that they had a tape date for me and asked me if I wanted to rep Ball State on College Week and I said “Yes” without any hesitation. The first person I told was my parents and they were floored and excited to hear about the news. Thankfully my parents were able to pay for the flight to and from California! Everyone at Ball State was excited when they heard about me being selected for the show as I’m the first person from Ball State to ever rep them on any College Week as Wheel has been doing College Week since 1988.
On February 6th, I woke up very bright and early in the morning to get ready for the big day. I was excited and nervous and couldn’t sleep well because of how excited I was. Arriving to the lot, I was greeted by Teddy outside the door and Alex greeted me with the warmest smile and gave me a side hug as she proceeded me into the backstage area where we all sat and I saw Jackie and Shannon. It felt like a family reunion seeing the contestant coordinators again lol. For the next 4 1/2 hours, we went over paperwork and signed it, practiced letter calling, went over the category overview packet, shot our hometown howdy promos, and played rehearsal rounds with Gary O’Brien as the host during our rehearsal games. Then at 12pm PST, it was time to tape. They also picked who we played against, as I played against Emily and Tallie (who by the way are so wonderful) and the coordinators picked me to be the captain of our group as I got to randomly draw what show we would be on and I picked #2 at random. I also randomly picked the Yellow position.
How much of that is going towards college tuition?
Small world. Also from Fort Wayne and went to BSU. We also both know Scrilla King lol. So, what happens if you don't claim the vacation in time? Does it just fade off into the void? Also, given the pandemic, are they going to tack on extra time for how ever long ubtil the CDC gives the all clear?
Stay safe and eat some Coney Island or Shigs n Pit for me (I miss the restaurants dearly).
That’s awesome man!! Believe it or not, Scrilla King is my cousin! Yes, they will tack on extra time until the CDC gives the all clear for everything again. I think it does fade into the void if you don’t claim it.
You stay safe as well!!
Hot damn! He's doing pretty well for himself from what I can see. Good for him. CJ was in my grade at Dwenger. Looks like your family has all the celebrities in the Fort lol.
Oh that’s awesome!!! Yes we do! Lol I’m so glad and honored to be the newest to join them😂😂 and yes CJ is doing so well
Super impressed by your crazy skills, solving so many hard puzzles with onlyfew letters appearing, especially in bonus round. Definitely an all-time impressive contestant!
Do you feel it was good strategy to solve puzzles immediately vs spinning more to win more overall cash?
Thank you so much!!
I think it was a good strategy to solve puzzles immediately vs spinning more to win more money. I did think about spinning for more cash but I wanted to solve the puzzle as soon as I knew it and while I was still in control of the round.
What are you planing on doing with you're money? I hear that more often then not people who get rich quick can waste they're money really really quickly and become broke.
Putting a majority of it towards tuition and then the rest gets invested into Bitcoin.
the rest gets invested into Bitcoin
No! Why? That's crazy.
Well, not the rest of it but some of it will go towards bitcoin and some towards savings
When are you planning to taking the trip?
Sometime in 2021
Who was the first Betty Boop?
I honestly have no idea 😂
What you gonna do with all your winnings?
College tuition and then leftovers will go towards savings.
Awesome decision, any particular school your favorite?
Ball State of course! Lol
What's your favorite movie?
Fast & Furious series. I’m a huge car junkie and play lots of racing games.
Cool. Mine is the LOTR series. But my favorite movie that isn't in a series is The Artist.
I like 2 Fast 2 Furious more specifically as my favorite.
What is Pat Sajak like?
Pat Sajak is so hilarious and such a humble person! He was so fun to interact with and be around.
How was the audition you attended?
My Detroit audition was so fun!! I surprised myself with how confident I was. The energy was amazing and everyone was cheering each other on.
What's it like to peak so early?
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