When Christian Dixie, freshman journalism major, was 9 months old, he fell in love with the game show “Wheel of Fortune.”
“My grandma and [I] sat in front of the TV, and she got me on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’” he said. “That was our thing. We would watch it together.”
Dixie’s grandma died in 2005 when he was 4 years old, he said, but he has continued to watch “Wheel of Fortune” every night since then. Dixie’s dream to compete on the show came true, as he traveled to Sony Studios in Culver City, California, in February to film an episode, which will air March 17.
Dixie participated in the game show’s College Week where he played against students from the University of Iowa and Berkeley College.
“To also be the first person to ever represent Ball State on a College Week on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ … it’s such a mind blowing moment,” Dixie said.
During the taping, Dixie was able to meet the show’s hosts, Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
“They are so down-to-earth, and they are just so amazing,” he said. “They’re so kind. They made me really at ease during the show … Vanna surprised all of us in the makeup room/greenroom area. She had no makeup on, and she was wearing sweats and a ponytail. It was just a really genuine moment. To see Vanna clapping for me — that made my entire life. She is truly an icon.”
Dixie’s journey to competing on the show began in May 2019 when he sent an online application with his audition video on “Wheel of Fortune’s” website. Ten days after he submitted his application, he received an email inviting him to audition in Detroit June 4, 2019. It wasn’t until January 2020 the producers at “Wheel of Fortune” called him and invited him to play as part of the show’s College Week.
“I was in the AJ building, [and] I was upstairs in my Journalism 103 class,” Dixie said. “I’ll never forget seeing the call. [My phone] said Culver City, California, and I was like, ‘That’s weird. Culver City?’ I was thinking, ‘“Wheel of Fortune?” Why are they calling me?’ I thought I would never hear from them because I had to literally wait seven months after my audition to hear back from them.
“But, I called them back. I had to walk out of class … They were like, ‘Are you a college student now?’ because at the time that I auditioned, I just ended my senior year [of high school], and I was three days away from graduating.”
Ball State’s College of Communication, Information and Media (CCIM) will host a watch party of Dixie’s “Wheel of Fortune” episode at 7 p.m. March 17 in the Unified Media Lab. Any Ung, CCIM’s program manager for community and digital engagement, organized the event.
“We wanted to celebrate him and his accomplishment,” Ung said. “This is the very first time that we have a Ball State student being represented at ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ and we were very excited about that.”
Ung said the event is a “bring-your-own-snack” party and is open to the entire Ball State community, as it will also be broadcasted on CCIM’s Facebook page.
“Initially, we started talking about it for alumni and people who are part of the Ball State community but who are not physically present in Muncie,” she said. “I know we have a lot of them on the West Coast. [Dixie’s] family is in Fort Wayne, and I know that he is very close to his family, so we wanted to have that component where people can still be with us.”
Dixie said he is unable to discuss his winnings or how well the other students competed prior to the episode’s air date. Ung said she asked Dixie if he wanted a small party or a large party, which would let her know if he performed well on the show.
“If he bombed it, I don’t think he would’ve wanted a bigger group,” Ung said. “He said, ‘A big group is good,’ so I think he did well.”