Pitt sophomore Noah Stockwell hits jackpot on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

By Julia DiPietro, Staff Writer

This past Thanksgiving, turkey wasn’t the only star of the day. 

The game show “Wheel of Fortune” showcased Noah Stockwell, a sophomore nursing major, on Nov. 24. The show consists of solving puzzles using a giant wheel to win cash and prizes. Stockwell took home $69,440, along with a trip to Hawaii and a $1,000 Tower Records gift card. 

Stockwell said he began his television show journey back in high school when he filled out an application to compete on “Wheel of Fortune.” He waited months for a response from the show before getting accepted.

This was Stockwell’s first time being on TV. He said he enjoyed learning about television production, as well as bonding with the other contestants. He added that his grandma inspired him to go on the show and he wanted to make her proud. 

“I wanted [my grandma] to see me up on the TV, as we always watched ‘Wheel of Fortune’ together,” Stockwell said. “This was my first time being on TV, and it was so strange. Seeing the actual process behind getting the show ready and everything that goes into the production is really incredible.” 

The process for getting on “Wheel of Fortune” was extensive, according to Stockwell. It took about a year for him to pass the audition process and film the episode. 

“When I was still in high school, I submitted a short video of me introducing myself on the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ website. A couple of months later, they contacted me saying they wanted to talk to me in a callback interview,” Stockwell said. “A few days after this callback interview, I was told I was in the contestant pool. After waiting a couple of months, I was invited to film, and the episode aired three months later.”

According to Stockwell, “Wheel of Fortune” selecting him for the show was an uplifting experience, from filming in August in Culver City, California to the show airing on Thanksgiving Day.

“It felt really reassuring to be selected. Sometimes I feel like I’m the last person that should go on a show like ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ so being selected really made me feel confident in my own skill and abilities,” Stockwell said. 

Stockwell said he lowered his expectations to not let the pressure of winning the show overwhelm him, but he ended up exceeding his expectations by solving the final puzzle. 

“I was expecting to just get a few thousand dollars and leave satisfied. I didn’t want to get my hopes up because, obviously, there’s already a lot of pressure to be on the show,” Stockwell said. “I did not expect to win a trip from the show. There is one prize puzzle every episode and the prize is a trip of varying destinations. I won the prize puzzle, which was a trip to Maui, Hawaii on a beautiful resort.” 

Stockwell was happy with the turnout and his winnings. He said the luck of the wheel played a part in his good fortune, as he did not lose any of his money or go “bankrupt” while playing. He recommends everyone to try out if they can.

“The puzzles were tricky, but one thing about the wheel that I like is that so much of it is dependent on luck and chance,” Stockwell said. “The other contestants, who I got along with quite well, hit ‘bankrupt’ a few times, and I never hit bankrupt. I would absolutely recommend the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ experience to anyone else, as there really is nothing to lose and everything to gain.” 

Stockwell had lots of support from his friends when auditioning for the show. Danielle Gruenke, a sophomore psychology major, said she knew Stockwell would be a perfect fit for “Wheel of Fortune.” She helped him prepare for his episode every night. 

“Freshman year, our whole friend group lived in Tower B so we would go there every night to hang out. When Noah was preparing for the show, we would watch the new episode every night so I became an expert on the rules of the show,” Gruenke said. “Noah is an amazing choice of a contestant for ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ because of his outgoing nature. He is very personable, so I think that also makes him a great contestant.” 

Gruenke said she was surprised about how long the process was for applying to “Wheel of Fortune” and getting on the show. It took a year from his interview during the beginning of his first year at Pitt to the filming in August of this year. 

“Something I didn’t expect about the process for ‘Wheel of Fortune’ was how they tell you the date of your episode. Noah was kind of in the dark as to when he was going to be on the show, and he was always waiting for an email giving him the date,” Grunke said. 

Stockwell also had assistance from his friend Carissa Canzona, a sophomore public and professional writing major. She said she was confident Stockwell would do well on “Wheel of Fortune” due to his lucky and personable nature, as demonstrated by him winning first-year games such as Tower B Assassin in their dorms. 

“In terms of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ being a game show, Noah has always been super lucky, but also competitive. He won Tower B Assassin last year out of pure determination. He also isn’t afraid to showcase his personality which makes him likable for TV,” Canzona said.  

As far as future game show appearances go, Stockwell cannot apply for sister shows such as “Jeopardy!” due to an ineligibility rule. Stockwell also said he has already had enough experiences and is content with what he won. 

“I would say I’ve had my fair share of game shows. I can’t apply to ‘Jeopardy!’ anymore, so I guess that already rules out one of the game shows. I do not have any plans for future game shows,” Stockwell said. “I correctly solved my final puzzle, which was ‘Waiting around.’ I won about as much money as I could have and would call myself perfectly satisfied with the outcomes.”