Arts & Entertainment

F.C. Man Spins ‘Wheel’ to Win, Takes Home $1,300 in Prizes

WheelChrisKentFormer Marine Corps captain, 31-year-old Chris Kent of Falls Church, made his television debut last week on the popular ABC-TV game show “Wheel of Fortune,” where he pocketed a $1,000 gift certificate to a Hawaiian gift store and $300.

Former Marine Corps captain, 31-year-old Chris Kent of Falls Church, made his television debut last week on the popular ABC-TV game show “Wheel of Fortune,” where he pocketed a $1,000 gift certificate to a Hawaiian gift store and $300.

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Chris Kent on “Wheel of Fortune.” (Photo: Carol Kaelson)

Kent secured a spot on the decades-old show more than a year ago at a “Wheelmobile” event in New York, N.Y., but wound up deployed to Iraq for most of 2009. The Wheelmobile is a 32-foot-long Winnebago that tours the U.S. in search of contestants for the show.

But the show’s producers held out for Kent, telling him to let them know when he returned to the U.S.

Kent recently left the Marines after six years to go back to graduate school, telecommuting to entrepreneurial-focused Babson College outside of Boston.

“The people at the show were extremely accommodating. It was very nice of them to hold a spot for me, especially since I’ve been told over a million people try out a year,” Kent told the News-Press this week.

While Kent called the outcome of his appearance “a little disappointing,” he said he had fun and went into the taping with confidence that he’d do really well.

Kent started off hot, solving the first puzzle, but followed up with a spin that landed on a “bankruptcy” card.

“The two other contestants were really sharp,” he said, adding “there wasn’t too much of an opportunity for him to recover.”

Behind the scenes, Kent said his first shock was the how small the set was in California.

“When you watch the show on TV, you assume it’s this large cavernous studio,” he said, adding the second surprise came with the amount of make-up he had to put on, which his fiancée got a kick out of. “She was really thrilled by the amount of face powder they’d used on me.”

Kent’s fiancée, Vaishali Trivedi, was the one who’d originally encouraged Kent to try out for the show.

“We watch ‘Wheel of Fortune’ all the time and Chris is always able to solve the puzzles before the contestants,” said Trivedi.

But Kent’s Marine friends weren’t as certain.

“My friends thought it was hilarious I made it on the show. Marines can be pretty ruthless, so they couldn’t wait for me to make a fool of myself on national TV,” said Kent, who did, however, manage not to stutter, and prided himself on remembering his fiancée Trivedi’s name on the air.

“And then, more for my buddies’ entertainment, I announced that I was ‘happily unemployed.’ They all got a kick out of that,” said Kent.

Kent’s not the only Falls Church resident to compete on “Wheel.” Deborah Koenig of Falls Church appeared on the show in August 2008, winning nearly $14,000.

As far as the $1,000 shopping spree to Hawaiian gift store, Hilo Hattie, that awaits Kent, Trivedi said she has a sneaky suspicion everyone will be “getting Hawaiian shirts for Christmas this year.”