The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Dr. Ruggieri spins for a chance to win big on Wheel of Fortune

Photo by Zoe Frantzeskakis
Screen grab of Dr. Edward Ruggieri appearing on Wheel of Fortune on Jan. 4

Have you ever wondered what it is like to spin the wheel on Wheel of Fortune? Feel the joy of answering a puzzle correctly? Meet Pat Sajak and Vanna White? This dream became a reality for WHS Art Teacher Dr. Edward Ruggieri.

Dr. Ruggieri’s love for game shows started at a young age. He grew up watching shows like Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and The Price is Right with his family. Being on a game show was always a dream, sort of a bucket list item for him.

A few years ago he started a tradition of applying to at least one game show a year. Most shows allow would be contestants to go online, fill out an application and send in a video explaining why they want to be on the show. And that is exactly what Dr. Ruggieri has been doing for the past few years. Other shows he has applied to include Press your Luck, $100,000 Pyramid, Password and Lingo.

Wheel of Fortune was the first show he was actually picked to be on. To him, Wheel of Fortune represents “being around family, trying to answer puzzles and play games together.” That love always stayed with him.

After being selected to go on the show, Dr. Ruggieri was filled with joy. While filming the episode, which aired on Jan. 4, he was relaxed and comfortable. He said, “I’ve been preparing for years. A lot of other people expressed how nervous they were. But because I knew how to play the game and I have played it all my life from watching it at home; I was super relaxed and it was very fun.” Other than tuning in to his favorite show, Dr. Ruggieri said that he did nothing else to prepare.

Prior to filming the show, Dr. Ruggieri and the other contestants went over key aspects of the game to make sure everything looked smooth and consistent on television. Everyone got to practice spinning the wheel to get an idea of how it worked.

Each contestant had to fly out to Los Angeles this past summer, where the filming took place. The company did not pay for any of the transportation or expenses, but everyone was paid $1,000 for being on the show, which helped to offset the costs. Contestants were also given tickets to bring their friends and family to the audience. Ruggieri brought his mother and older brother, the people that helped develop his love for game shows.

Despite ending in second place, Dr. Ruggieri was thrilled with the experience. He explained, “I just wanted to meet Pat before he retired. And I wanted to meet Vanna White. And I got to do that. And I just wanted to be able to spin the wheel and solve one puzzle. And I told myself going into it, anything past that, and I’d be even happier.” After taxes, he even got to take home money he won during the game.

Dr. Ruggieri is going to continue his tradition of applying to at least one game show a year. His love for them will always hold a special place in his heart and he would gladly do another one “in a heartbeat.”

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