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Ohio State student spins spur-of-the-moment idea into ‘Wheel of Fortune’ debut

Courtesy of Matt Timm

Not many people have the chance to spin the Wheel of Fortune.

But Thursday, viewers will get to see Ohio State student Matt Timm have his chance.

Timm, a third-year in psychology, will appear on Thursday’s episode of “Wheel of Fortune,” which is scheduled to air at 7:30 p.m. on WBNS-10TV, a CBS affiliate in Columbus.

Originally attempting to be on “Jeopardy,” Timm said he opted for “Wheel of Fortune” after “failing miserably on the ‘Jeopardy’ test.” Although it was a spur-of-the-moment idea to go on a game show, Timm said, “I have been a fan of the show for a long time, watching since I was about six years old with my grandma.”

Timm’s girlfriend, Brittany Anderson, who lives in St. Paul, Minn., said she’s seen Timm watch the show regularly.

“He loves to solve the puzzles before the contestants do,” she said.

Timm drove to Charleston, W. Va., in mid-June for the show auditions, which consisted of a mock version of the game. Timm said he was judged “not only (on) charisma, but also (on) ability to solve puzzles and whether or not we had logical letter calling.”

Out of 1 million applicants, 10,000 were chosen for auditions, then 600 as contestants, according to “Wheel of Fortune’s” website.

“We knew it would be a long shot,” said Chrysanne Timm, Matt Timm’s mom. But she did think her son was “the kind of person game show producers look for.”

“He is bright, an effective communicator and comfortable in performance-type settings,” she said.

Two weeks after auditioning, Matt Timm found out he made the show.

“There was overall excitement and disbelief from everyone when I told them I made the show,” Matt Timm said.

Doug Shelnutt, Matt Timm’s manager at Barnes and Noble’s High Street location, was no exception.

“All of us at the OSU bookstore were very excited to learn Matt was flying to (Los Angeles) to compete on ‘Wheel of Fortune,'” Shelnutt said. “He is always positive and has a smile on his face. Being an OSU student, he has the intelligence to do very well on this game show.”

Shelnutt also said the bookstore is planning to host a viewing party Thursday for Matt Timm’s TV debut.

Having the wheel land on the “bankrupt” space was certainly a fear, he said, but win or lose, every contestant leaves with at least $1,000.

His episode was taped July 12.

And Vanna White, the show’s hostess, still looks good with her flashy, intricate dresses, Matt Timm said.

“HDTV doesn’t do them justice,” Matt Timm said. “For being in the business for as long as she has, she still looks really good.”  

Chrysanne Timm and Anderson also traveled to LA for the recording.

“While he was on stage, I had to hold my hand over my mouth to keep me from cheering too loudly,” Chrysanne Timm said.

She said she hoped her son was able to enjoy the experience as it unfolded.

Matt Timm said he appreciated the support in what he called a “once in a lifetime experience.”

“It is great to have someone you know cheering you on from the stands,” Matt Timm said. “I am nervous to see myself on TV, but I think others will be excited for me.”

Viewers will see him donning a scarlet and gray tie when the show airs Thursday.

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