The Northern Westchester Examiner

Yorktown Resident to Appear on Wheel of Fortune Friday

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Robert Santoli spinning the wheel on Wheel of Fortune.
Robert Santoli spinning the wheel on Wheel of Fortune.

As a young child, Robert Santoli can vividly recall watching the game show Wheel of Fortune with his mom.

“It’s how I used to start learning my letters and numbers,” Santoli said. “The wheel itself is full of so many colors. As I grew older I used to be able to figure out what the puzzle meant. Now I can even get puzzles without a letter coming up.”

A 2011 graduate of Soundview Preparatory School in Yorktown and a 2015 graduate of Fordham University, Santoli, 23, first applied to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune in 2012 but wasn’t chosen. However, in June 2015, the Yorktown resident’s persistence paid off after he made a video and was invited to an audition in New York City.

He later received a letter in the mail that he had made it to the contestant pool, and in January, he was notified about appearing on the show on January 22 in Los Angeles.

“I was jumping and screaming since I was alone in the house,” Santoli said of receiving the good news. “It was very amazing. It was very exciting.”

Santoli flew to California with his parents for the taping with longtime hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who have been with Wheel of Fortune since its debut in syndication in 1983. The show is scheduled to air on Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 7.

“They treat you like family. They’re really good people,” Santoli said of the show’s stars and staff. “They’re there to cheer you on. They were very nice. Vanna said, ‘Robert you’re amazing.’ Pat did a great job giving people pep talks during the break.”

Santoli, who works as an IT Assistant at Soundview Preparatory School, appeared during Spin and Sail Week, sponsored by Carnival Cruise, so several cruises were included as prizes. Santoli is prohibited from publicly disclosing how he fared on the show until after it airs, but he is still dancing on cloud nine two months after fulfilling a lifetime goal.

“It was amazing. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for anybody,” he said. “It was great. I’m glad everything worked out for me. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Contestants are only permitted to be on Wheel of Fortune once and must wait a year to apply to be a contestant on any other game show. Any prize money is handed out four months after the show airs on television.

Santoli, who noted he often plays the Wheel of Fortune slot machines at Empire City Casino in Yonkers with family members, said he would like to try out to be contestant on the new Pyramid game show, which will tape in New York City.

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