Date March 30, 2023
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Brown student takes a spin on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

As part of the show's College Week showcase, senior Connor Kraska will compete against students from across the nation to solve university-themed word puzzles in an episode airing Monday, April 3.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A lifelong tradition and pandemic pastime have now resulted in a cherished memory for Connor Kraska.

In an episode airing on Monday, April 3, the Brown senior will compete on “Wheel of Fortune” as part of the show’s College Week competition, where he will go up against other students from across the nation to solve college-themed word puzzles in an experience he described as “once-in-a-lifetime, truly unforgettable.”

It’s fitting, then, that his time in college is the reason Kraska decided to audition in the first place.

“During [COVID-19] lockdown, my friends and I would walk over to the Grad Center and turn on ‘Jeopardy!’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’ together,” he said.  “So that became this event that we all did during COVID just to have some bonding time with each other… and then I became a pretty religious ‘Wheel’ watcher.” 

For as long as he can remember, Kraska said he’s bonded with his aunt by solving daily word puzzles together. From yelling answers out loud to the television screen to sending Wordles and other puzzles back and forth, their shared interest helped Kraska develop critical thinking skills and build confidence.

In January, Kraska’s friend sent him an Instagram post advertising that “Wheel of Fortune” was seeking contestants for College Week. He thought, “Maybe nothing will come from it, but at least I’ll have put my foot forward,” and he sent in an audition tape.

“ It was something I never thought I’d get to experience. I’ll always remember being on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ because, how cool is that? ”

Connor Kraska Class of 2023

In addition to his double concentration in economics and international and public affairs, Kraska has a large bank of collegiate knowledge to draw from; he’s a campus tour guide, a staff writer for the Brown Undergraduate Law Review, a Meiklejohn peer advisor and one of the captains of the Bouncing Bears, Brown’s competitive jump rope team.

“I’ve always had this in me, but I think Brown helped cultivate my adventurous spirit and let me throw myself out there.” Kraska said. “In some ways, Brown prepared me to be a go-getter.”

He had a Zoom call with the show, completed several dozen tests to evaluate his puzzle-solving acumen and three weeks later, the Westlake, Texas, native was on a flight to Los Angeles to the “Wheel of Fortune” studio.

Between learning the basics — like how to spin the wheel or buy a vowel — and meeting with the game show’s iconic hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White, Kraska said his day at the studio was a blur that involved only half an hour of actual filming. But those 30 minutes got intense.

“It’s not just going on and calling letters and blind guessing,” he said. “There’s definitely a strategic element. I put some studying into it.”

Local viewers can tune in to WPRI 12 in Providence or a local CBS affiliate at 7 p.m. Eastern on Monday, April 3, to watch Kraska step up to the wheel.

“It was something I never thought I’d get to experience,” Kraska said. “I’ll always remember being on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ because, how cool is that?”

The results are under wraps until his episode airs, but Kraska was able to reveal one secret about the eponymous wheel: It’s not as heavy as it looks.   

“I feel like it wasn’t that hard to spin,” he said. “But maybe that’s because I’ve been working out recently.”