Pleasanton resident Rodman Martin earned nearly $30,000 in cash and prizes and narrowly missed out on solving the final puzzle for the night's big prize on a recent episode of "Wheel of Fortune."
A local attorney and longtime fan of the television game show, as well as a frequent player of the mobile app version since the pandemic hit, Martin told the Weekly that the experience in studio was "fun and challenging" -- and a lot different than playing at home.
"The time you are up there flies by and you do a lot more up there as a contestant than I really appreciated before going on," he said.
"You have to interact with the host, actually do the spinning of the wheel, make decisions quickly, and keep track of the used letter board. At home you have the luxury of just getting to focus on the puzzle and don't have to worry about the other stuff, including calling the actual letters. It's a very fun experience to play the game," Martin continued, adding:
"As the producers and crew would remind us before the show if they sensed any nervousness, 'It's Wheel of Fortune, not wheel of root canal!'"
Martin's episode, which was recorded earlier this spring, was broadcast nationwide including on ABC7 in the Bay Area on May 18. If he had any nerves on the set, his game play didn't suffer.
The Pleasanton man correctly solved five puzzles during regular game play to earn a total of $28,050 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Cozumel, Mexico.
His biggest puzzles were "A first-time snorkeler" (category: person) in which he won $4,300 plus the vacation, and "That hits the spot" for $11,550 (in the last tossup).
Martin advanced to the final round but just missed solving the puzzle with what turned out to be $39,000 more at stake. With 10 seconds to solve the puzzle, he couldn't quite fill in the final letters for "_a_ _ cl_b" -- ultimately, "jazz club."
Martin said he looked back fondly at the whole experience.
"Pat Sajak and Vanna White were great," he said. "You can tell they've been doing the show together for nearly 40 years and they have a great rapport. Both went out of their way on the day of taping to make us contestants feel welcome and at ease on the set of the show. The entire production staff and crew were great."
Sajak said to a smiling Martin, during the on-air contestant introductions, "Rodman Martin, from Pleasanton, California. And you seem like a pleasant fellow,"
Martin shared about his birding and movie-watching hobbies, including an anecdote about the rarest bird he has spotted -- a juvenile bald eagle in Pleasanton.