‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestant Explains How He Felt Overcoming Serious Illness Helped His Chances of Getting on Show

by Josh Lanier
(Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Chris Newman is a lifelong lover of Wheel of Fortune. His entire family consists of super fans of the game show. They competed against each other growing up to see who could solve the puzzle first. But after Chris applied twice to be on the game show and failed the audition both times, he’d given up hope of spinning the Wheel himself.

To add injury to insult, shortly after his second rejection in 2018, Newman’s doctors called with some horrific news. He had stage-IV melanoma. He was only 29. Doctors started him on a rapid response to immunotherapy, the Republican Eagle reported. His body took well to the treatment.

Ever the true believer in fate or maybe just that much of a fan, his thoughts drifted to Wheel of Fortune. A cancer survivor who had tried twice to get on the show makes for a great story.

“I was like ‘OK, if this doesn’t sell then nothing will work,” he joked to The Post Bulletin.

So, after some prodding from his friend who was astonished at Newman’s prowess for puzzle solving, Newman sent in another audition tape to Wheel of Fortune. After a few agonizing weeks of waiting, he got the call for his third audition.

This time, though, things were a little different because of the coronavirus pandemic. The audition was held over Zoom. Previously, he’d played practice rounds of the game with other presumptive candidates. And both times, he feels he made a small mistake that kept him out of the show. The first time he thinks he didn’t smile enough, and the second, he believes, was because he accidentally called out a letter that had already been called.

He nailed the audition, and made it onto the show last month.

Chris Has His ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Dreams Come True

Chris Newman appeared on the May 16th episode of the show. And of course, his now spread out across the country held Wheel of Fortune viewing parties to watch his performance. There were watch parties in Minnesota, Boston, Milwaukee, among other places.

This was Chris’ big moment and none of them were going to miss it.

One of the hardest parts of the process was he filmed his Wheel of Fortune episode in early March. But it didn’t air until late May. So, he couldn’t tell his family how he did for more than two months. They tried repeatedly to wheedle it out of him, but he could only reply that “he thought he did pretty well,” The Post Bulletin said.

And he did. Newman won more than $20,000 on the show, even after landing on the bankruptcy wedge twice. He said he plans to use that money to fix the roof on his Southern California house he shares with his wife of four years and their dog.