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Wheel of Fortune dream becomes reality for GHC student Sam Philliber



It isn’t every day that one of your childhood dreams comes true. But today is the day for Cartersville native Sam Philliber as his Wheel of Fortune dream becomes a reality.

The 20-year-old Georgia Highlands’ student will be a contestant on tonight’s episode ofWheel of Fortune airing on 11Alive/NBC affiliate at 7 p.m.

“I grew up watching it with my grandmother and have just always watched the show and wanted to be on it. I am a puzzle person and love solving things. One night I saw an ad on the T.V. about applying to be a contestant, so I applied,” says Philliber, who also works at Cartersville’s Chick-fil-A along with his Business Management studies at Georgia Highlands.

In early August, Philliber was contacted to appear at a closed audition at the Omni Hotelin Atlanta.

“We had to do some mock puzzles and see if we could call letters logically and with enthusiasm. There was also a written exam,” he says. “Then they ask all but 12 people to leave and then only about four make it to the show. They told us we’d get a letter in the mail within two weeks if we made it. It was so nerve-racking to wait.”

Two weeks passed and Philliber didn’t receive a letter but the mail may have just been slow because his letter did arrive just two days later.

“I just thought I didn’t make it but my mom sent me a picture of the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ envelope after she got the mail. I knew exactly what it was,” he says.

He was contacted via email with a tape date of Sept. 11 in Los Angeles just two weeks later.

“So we fly out there on Sept. 10, filmed on Sept. 11 and came back on Sept. 12,” he says. “It was a quick trip but an experience I will never forget.  It was an all around fun day … they even made signing all the legal paperwork for the game show fun.”

Philliber, who traveled to LA with his parents and girlfriend, were shuttled over to the Sony Studios early that morning for taping.

“I hung out in the contestant room and let’s just say that I was fed,” he laughed. “They had folks do my hair, make-up and go over all the legal paperwork and specific rules of the game. At one point, I saw this lady with sweats on eating yogurt … it was Vanna White. It was odd to see her not wearing a gown.”

Philliber’s show was the first one filmed; five shows were filmed on that particular day, he says.

“I was in the first show of the day. But I got to stay for the next show after and be in the live audience. I would most definitely go back without hesitation,” he says.

So what’s Pat Sajak really like in person?

“He was a really nice guy. He talked to me a lot during the game. Even though he does the show every night, he tries to make it special for every person because that’s our one and only time on the show,” says Philliber.

The show is filmed for 23 minutes just like air time and it “goes by just as quick as the TV show,” he says.

“Very few times do they have to start and stop a taping. After the puzzle was solved, Pat would say commercial break and we’d get water while they loaded the next puzzle…which is just like a giant touch screen TV,” he says.

All Wheel of Fortune contestants are guaranteed to win at least $1,000 in cash for appearing on the show. Philliber says even though he had to pay his travel expenses out to California, the prize money would cover it.

“I can’t reveal the outcome of my game … so all my family and friends have to tune in to see how I did,” he says. “I will get my winnings in 100 to 180 days after the air date, so by April 2016. The reason for that is so folks won’t get any clues about our winnings beforehand.”

Aside from cash, Philliber also has the chance to win trips, shopping sprees, gift cards or a car. And each contestant only appears on the show for one night, it is not a continuous winning game like Jeopardy.

“It just happened that the theme week I am on is the Sears Secret Santa week and they happened to put me in an ad for the week. The premise is that whatever each contestant wins, they are matched up with someone at home with a Spin I.D. number and that person wins whatever the contestant wins,” he says.

“I really love that they put in an ad…it immortalizes me in Wheel of Fortune history. I’ve actually been on the commercial every night since mid-October.” You can see Philliber’s ad below.

Tune in to 11Alive/NBC tonight at 7 p.m. to watch Philliber in action.

FULL STORY: http://johndruckenmiller.com/blog/2015/12/07/wheel-of-fortune-dream-becomes-reality-tonight-for-cartersvilles-sam-philliber-a-georgia-highlands-student/

UPDATE: Cartersville’s Sam Philliber wins $18,065 in cash and prizes on Wheel of Fortune

Georgia Highlands’ student Sam Philliber had a successful run on Monday night’sWheel of Fortune game show. The Cartersville native won $18,065 in cash and prizes, including a 2015 Ford Fiesta. Even with the his success, it wasn’t quite enough to be win first place.

“It feels amazing. Even though I got second place, in the words of Pat (Sajak), ‘Second place isn’t always so bad.’” Thanks to everyone for tuning in to watch and support me,” he says.


Philliber expects to receive his cash winnings and car by April.

Page last updated: December 9, 2015