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“Wheel” appearance for Hyatt

Al and Kathy Hyatt are planning to be glued to ABC affiliate KOMO at 7 p.m. Friday watching their son Eric appear as a contestant on the popular game show Wheel of Fortune.

Although the Enumclaw residents haven’t worked out the details as to where they will be watching, they wouldn’t miss it.

“It’s really cool,” Al Hyatt said.

“It’s my big television debut,” said Eric, who now lives in Puyallup, “in HD (high definition).”

Eric is a 1999 Enumclaw High graduate and former substitute teacher and football coach at his alma mater. He still coaches Hornet track and field.

After a lengthy selection process, Eric taped Friday night’s show in November.

“I know the outcome, but I can’t tell,” he said.

Plateau residents may also catch a glimpse of him during the week on promotional commercials.

“I wanted to do Jeopardy!,” he said, but threw his name into the hat for Wheel of Fortune online and two weeks later his name was randomly selected to tryout with about 200 others in Seattle. He went through a mock game as a kind of personality test, he said, and then took a written test.

“They said they’d call or send a letter in three weeks,” he said. “If you haven’t heard from them in three weeks you weren’t on the show.”

Eric never received a letter and assumed he wasn’t contestant material, but then he got a call from a Wheel of Fortune representative who wanted him to make arrangements to travel to California.

Wheel of Fortune first wanted him for a teachers’ week promotion, but he’s now working in construction. They also wanted him for Oct. 30, but he told them his wife was due to give birth that week. He finally taped in mid-November. For Wheel-whatching fans, it’s Dream Vacation Week.

“They tape six shows in one day, so we were there from like 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” he said.

He paid his own way to California, but said no matter how he does on the show he receives $1,000.

“I will tell you I did better than that,” he said.

Eric met host Pat Sajack and letter-turner Vanna White.

And for those in the area who grew up with him and are afraid they won’t recognize him – he’s the only male on Friday’s show.

Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

Wheel Fun Facts

• Wheel of Fortune has awarded more than $180 million in cash and prizes to its contestants in its 25 years in syndication.

• In the 2007-08 season, Wheel of Fortune became the longest-running syndicated television program celebrating 25 seasons.

• Approximately 3,200 people try out each year, and fewer than 500 lucky Wheel Watchers are selected to appear on the show.

• The Wheel Watchers Club, Wheel of Fortune’s online viewer loyalty program, has gained 5 million members since its inception in 2003.

• Wheel of Fortune receives more than 3,000 pieces of viewer mail per week. Remarkably, all letters receive a response.

• In 1992, the “Guinness Book of World Records” listed Vanna White as the world’s most frequent clapper. Vanna puts her hands together for contestants some 28,080 times a season - an average of 720 times per show.

• The first letter Vanna ever turned on the Wheel of Fortune puzzleboard was a “T.”

• The Wheel weighs 4,000 pounds.

Fun facts are found on the Wheel of Fortune Web site at www.wheeloffortune.com.

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