Chaplain's assistant spins the "Wheel of Fortune"

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
For one 161st Air Refueling Wing member, an appearance on the Halloween edition of Wheel of Fortune was a "spooktacular" experience.

Staff Sgt. Johnny Baltz, 161st Air Refueling Wing chaplain's assistance, appeared on the Oct. 31, 2011, show taking home more than $8,000 in cash and prizes.

"The whole experience of being on Wheel of Fortune -- from the audition in Phoenix, taping the show in California, and watching the episode on Halloween with my family -- was spooktacular," Sergeant Baltz said.

Sergeant Baltz isn't the only one in his family to make a game show television appearance. His sister was on the Price is Right in 2007.

"I've always liked Wheel of Fortune," Sergeant Baltz said. "I watched it growing up and recently decided to try to get on the show."

In January, Sergeant Baltz went onto the Wheel of Fortune Web site to register as a contestant. Sergeant Baltz received an email in February inviting him to audition in Phoenix. After several rounds of puzzle solving and auditions in enthusiasm and introductions, Sergeant Baltz continued to proceed until there were 12 people left of the original 60 of contestants.

Two weeks later, Sergeant Baltz received a letter in the mail notifying him he had been selected as a participant. Early in the morning July 14, 2011, Sergeant Baltz reported to Sony Pictures Studios for a series of show tapings.

Contestants were told what to expect and given clues on how to solve puzzles. They were each given an opportunity to practice spinning the infamous "Wheel," which, according to Sergeant Baltz, was the biggest surprise.

"(The wheel) is really much smaller than what you see on TV," he said. "Also, an interesting fact I learned is that there is only one wheel and they disassemble it and take it on road shows. It's the same wheel each time."

Appearing on the show in his service dress, Sergeant Baltz was introduced as a member of the Arizona Air National Guard. The show's host, Pat Sajak, also asked about Sergeant Baltz's hobby as a "scorpion hunter."

Sergeant Baltz said he often goes to his mother's house with a black light to hunt for scorpions with a putter from his golf bag. Mr. Sajak then asked, "What do you do with the scorpion once you find it?"

"I exterminate it," said Sergeant Baltz, followed by laughter from the studio audience.

Before going to commercial break, Mr. Sajak gave a Halloween message to viewers. "You kids going to Johnny's house for trick or treating, don't dress as a scorpion!"

Wheel of Fortune first premiered in 1975 and is viewed by more than 26 million viewers per week.