Surely you’ve watched Wheel of Fortune before and wondered what it’s like to win big on the game show. In some cases, contestants win free trips and brand new cars. However, most don’t realize there’s a bit of a catch when it comes to those grand prizes.
Last year in January 2020, Motor1.com interviewed a former contestant who won big on the game show. Winner John Dean opened up about his experience on Wheel of Fortune back in the ’80s when he won a 1986 Mazda SE-5 pickup truck. Although it sounds amazing to win a new truck at first, according to Dean it also came with a few headaches.
During the interview, Dean did make sure to say that Wheel of Fortune went over the details of winning the grand prizes. He knew beforehand that if he won he’d be responsible for paying the taxes on any winnings.
“The car itself was valued by the game show people at around $7,800, which was close to the full MSRP for that model in 1986, believe it or not,” Dean said to Motor1.com.
The contestant shared that his earnings on the game show bumped him up to a different tax bracket. Considering he had just graduated from college, that came with its own set of issues. He went on to break down the details of his winnings.
“I then had to itemize the entire list with the prices I was given by the retailers. This lowered my overall total winnings to around $15,000, fair market value,” Dean explained.
The Internal Revenue Service even got involved, but the contestant said it was easily sorted out. Not long after the show, he received a call from a local Mazda dealership. All he had to do is sign the dealership’s paperwork and drive his new truck home.
“The pickup truck lasted until 2002. Not bad!” he added in the interview.
‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestant Ends Season 38 on a High Note
Speaking of competitors taking home cars, one contestant lucked out with his grand prize yesterday. On Friday night, the Season 38 finale of Wheel of Fortune aired, and one contestant hit the jackpot in the Bonus Round.
Yesterday’s episode was the last of the season before the game show goes on hiatus. Wheel of Fortune had a temporary break on the way, but it definitely ended on a high note. During the finale, Mark Anselmo from Temecula, California dominated as he won six of the nine puzzles last night. In addition, he had already pocketed $18,000 previous to moving on to the Bonus Round.
As per usual, Vanna White went ahead and turned over every “R,S,T,L,N, and E” in the final puzzle. Mark needed to guess a two-word answer in the “PEOPLE” category. The contestant picked “M, K, and D” as the three consonants, and added an “O” as his vowel. As White turned over the rest of his letters, Mark had a full board except three blank letters.
“FORMER JOCK,” Mark called out almost immediately.
“That’s it, you got it,” host Pat Sajak replied to Mark as he celebrated.
Sajak then opened Mark’s grand prize and informed him that he had just won a new Mercedes-Benz sedan. The luxury car brought Mark’s grand total to $71,400 on the day. The contestant sent Wheel of Fortune to the break with a huge win, and gave fans a great outing on the last episode before Season 39 begins.