Patrick Mehler ’23 spins and wins on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

By holding a sizzling hot hand toward the end of the show, Patrick Mehler ’23 won about $40,000 in cash and trip to Barbados (worth $11,000) to win “Wheel of Fortune” on March 21.

Mehler, a student in the ILR School who is also a member of the Ithaca Common Council, solved two non-toss-up puzzles: He found most of the letters for the phrase “EXCELLENT ACCOMMODATIONS” prize puzzle, which also earned a trip to Barbados, and for the phrase “SORORITY RUSH” in the final, regular round.

Patrick Mehler on the set of Wheel of Fortune.

The experience may have been a blur. “While playing Wheel of Fortune, there is a crazy amount of adrenaline running through you,” he said. “After the first puzzle, you get zoned in. You’re playing. You’re focused. You don’t hear anything. It’s a little surreal to look at the puzzle board – not from your couch.”

One surprise for Mehler: the size of the wheel. “The wheel is large and heavier than it looks,” he said. “It’s 2,400 pounds. It’s heavy. It’s hard to spin. There is a lot more muscle work than you were expecting. You’re sweating, it’s a workout.”

Mehler spent three months preparing for the game show’s infinite possible clauses, idioms and turns-of-phrase. He worked on becoming wordy and practiced with a 2010 version of “Wheel of Fortune” on an old Nintendo Wii. The New York Times’ Mini Crossword? Yes, every day. The “Wheel of Fortune” app on his smart phone? Any chance he got. Wordle and the tougher Quordle? Check and check.

“Even ILR has me reading a lot,” he said. “I looked at a lot of words.”

When he’s not competing to win money, Mehler represents the 4th Ward on the Common Council, representing about 6,000 people in his Collegetown-area district. He was placed there last October to fill the remainder of a four-year term held by Steven Smith, who resigned last year for a new career opportunity.

In the one-day production of College Week’s entire run of shows last month, Mehler loved hanging around with students from all over the country, learning about other places of higher education.

Of course, Mehler met Wheel’s host Pat Sajak and hostess Vanna White, who have been with the show for four decades.

“Meeting them was fun,” he said. “Pat and Vanna are quite personable and lovely.”