Dublin man takes a spin on 'Wheel of Fortune' | February 5, 2021 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 5, 2021

Dublin man takes a spin on 'Wheel of Fortune'

DUSD's Curtis Haar won over $27,000 and a trip to Iceland

by Julia Baum

Following up on the heels of Murray Elementary School's recent appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Dublin Unified School District made headlines again when director of elementary education Curtis Haar won more than $27,000 and a trip to Iceland on the Jan. 21 episode of the classic TV game show "Wheel of Fortune."

Being a contestant was "something that has been on my bucket list for quite some time," Haar told the Weekly. "'Wheel of Fortune' has always been a show that growing up I watched it with my mom."

It was the day after Election Day when Haar filmed the show in Los Angeles. After passing a COVID-19 test the day before, he arrived at the studio at 7:30 a.m. and did several rehearsals, during which contestants practiced projecting their voices and spinning the wheel before filming the actual show.

"Solving the puzzles and participating from the comfort of my living room is so different from when you're there in the studio and there's (host) Pat (Sajak), there's (co-host) Vanna (White)," Haar said.

"I was surprised at how much smaller the wheel was in person than it looks on TV," Haar added. "The puzzle board itself is very large, that's actually larger than what it looks like on TV. The studio itself wasn't enormous -- except for the big board, everything was more compacted than it looks on TV."

Haar occupied prime real estate during filming and "was right there in the red space, which is right next to Pat."

"(Sajak) was very personable, very funny, very engaging with all of us," Haar added. "One of the surprising things to me was how much in real time the whole experience was."

Due to COVID restrictions, no audience was present but Haar said the contestants were clapping and "you could feel the energy of the other contestants cheering each other on."

Haar was off to a slow start when he incorrectly guessed the first puzzle, but didn't despair.

"It definitely is really easy to get defeated when things aren't going well initially," Haar said. "For me, watching this show enough, I know that it really often comes down to that third puzzle, which is the prize puzzle, because there's the opportunity for winning cash and getting a trip. That one almost always determines who goes to the final round."

Haar finally got his opportunity to shine when he guessed the answer to another puzzle: "Come fly with me, come fly." From there, Haar continued to guess the correct consonants and buy all the right vowels before finding himself in the final round and, ultimately, winner of the show.

Six shows were done by the time filming wrapped around six o'clock that evening. "It was a very long day but it was a blast," Haar said.

Haar originally auditioned for the show in San Francisco about 20 years ago. Nothing happened at the time but he said "any time there were opportunities to apply, I always would."

In August, a contestant coordinator reached out and asked if he was interested in auditioning via Zoom.

"They made it so much fun," Haar said, comparing his more "intense" in-person audition decades earlier that included "hundreds of people in a conference room" to the modern virtual process.

Haar made the cut that time and was asked to appear but he originally declined due to a scheduling conflict.

"I thought I had thrown away my shot," Haar said, but show organizers reached out a month later and asked about taping in November.

The whole experience was "a nice reprieve with everything going on in the world" for Haar, but he said "it was something to look forward to" for other people as well. Since being on the show, Haar has been surprised by how many have reached out with their own stories.

"That part for me was surprising but also at the same time very rewarding," Haar said. "It was just an experience I'll never forget. It was a dream come true to participate in it."

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