By Carla Kolbe
NORTHVILLE — “Finally I can talk about it, it was so exciting” said 27 year old Northville resident Joe Spano about his experience on the TV game show “Wheel of Fortune.”
Spano was a contestant on the show which aired last Thursday, but was taped at Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, Calif., on Oct. 11.
“It was so hard having to keep quiet all this time,” said Spano. He said he did not even tell his mother, Broadalbin resident Joanne Muscari.
Spano proved to be the evening’s big winner, netting close to $30,000 in cash and prizes. He could only discuss his 30 minutes of fame and fortune with his three friends who accompanied him to the show and were in the audience.
Since he was a child, Spano said he has watched the show, he would talk on the phone with friends and figure out the puzzles.
“I have always wanted to be on ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ I knew I could do this,” he said.
Spano, who recently moved to Northville from New York City, was spending time in California last spring when he decided to put his name in as a show contestant, a lifelong goal for him. Not initially hearing back from the show, he was in New York City, on his was to Europe in August when he received an email asking him to audition back in California.
“It was a Tuesday, I was leaving for Europe on Thursday,” said Spano. He checked flights and times and knew it was possible to get out there, try out and return for his trip abroad, but unfortunately it was going to be too costly at the last minute.
“That’s when my good friend Marcie said, ‘This is a lifetime goal of yours, I know it means so much’ and she got me an airline ticket with her own frequent flyer miles,” Spano said.
The audition consisted of a written exam, actually saying your name and clapping, and after passing both of those tests, he moved on to a simulated game.
“I have a big personality, so this came easy to me,” said Spano.
Spano managed to avoid the “bankrupt” spin, solve puzzles, win a trip to Curacao, a Chevy Sonic, and additional cash that evening.
Paying it forward, Spano is taking his dear friend Marcie with him on his sunny, seven-day, six-night Caribbean vacation to Curacao, just off the Venezuelan coast. He can plan the trip this year between May and December.
A car dealer will soon be contacting him about the Chevy Sonic he won, to find out preferences for color or options Spano may want.
Spano traveled back to New York City, to a favorite pub with his friends to watch the show last Thursday. The establishment had every television tuned on to “Wheel of Fortune,” and Spano with close to 30 friends watched the show for the first time.
“It was like the Super Bowl. People were cheering and jeering,” Spano said.
To his surprise, Spano’s big personality got him some attention in a few celebrity blogs, and even some haters on Twitter.
“I didn’t expect all that, it’s only a game,” he said.
Spano, after achieving one of his many lifetime goals, is still beaming from the experience, and can now openly share his excitement with all his friends and family.
He remains close with his fellow contestants from the show, and is even discussing trying out for the “Amazing Race” with one of them.