When Chris Scholz got the call to appear on “Wheel of Fortune” last January, he said no.
The Coleytown Elementary School physical education teacher had already used his 2 personal days that year — for his honeymoon.
Fortunately, Chris got called again. This time it was for “Teacher Week” — in July.
He and his wife flew to California — at their expense — for the taping.
Chris’s fascination with “Fortune” dates back to his childhood. He always watched before bedtime.
“I love word games,” he says. So every time he got the chance, he filled out an application to be a contestant.
Last December, he was invited to audition in Brooklyn. There were hundreds of candidates, but the atmosphere was great. Everyone rooted for each other.
“It was nerve-wracking,” he recalls. “You had to talk in front of people. Fortunately, I’m a teacher. I can talk.”
The producers liked what they saw. They called twice. The 2nd time was the charm.
The California taping was “surreal,” Chris says. The day began at 7:30 a.m., with “the legal spiel.”
Names were pulled from a hat. Chris was chosen for show #4 — to be aired on a Thursday. Able to watch the 1st 3 shows being taped, he felt calm when his time came.
Of course, playing on TV is far different from watching on his couch. “With no pressure, I’m spot on,” Chris laughs. “When we were taping, I realized there would be people at home yelling at me for not knowing the answer.”
It took 45 minutes to tape the half-hour show. During commercial breaks, technicians worked on the wheel. Meanwhile, Vanna White and Pat Sajak — “very funny people” — bantered with the audience.
The bonus round was worth $30,000. Chris answered, “A whole honeydew?” “It was like a question, not an answer,” he says.
But the answer was right. He won — a total of $56,850.
The show aired last night. Chris was not allowed to tell anyone ahead of time how he’d done. Today, Coleytown El is buzzing with excitement.
Chris is excited too. He and his wife have been renting in Fairfield. Now — with the money for a down payment — they’ll start looking for a house.
On weekends, of course. Unless he has a personal day or 2 left this year.