Since winning $65,930 in cash and prizes on “Wheel of Fortune’s” College Week last month, freshman journalism major Christian Dixie has been called a “beacon of positivity” across the game show’s Twitter audience.
“It was so heartwarming to see all of the positive responses on Twitter and to be seen as a ‘beacon of positivity’ in the midst of the virus outbreak and to give hope to not only people across the country but across the world as well,” Dixie said.
Dixie's win came after successfully solving the bonus round puzzle. The category Dixie chose was “Place,” and after being given the letters R, S, T, L, N and E, Dixie then chose the letters C, W, V and A, which helped him come up with the puzzle’s answer, “Wavy Ocean.”
“During the closing credits, as I was talking to Pat Sajak and Vanna White, I'll never forget Vanna telling me, ‘You made it look so easy,’” Dixie said. “Pat and Vanna [were] impressed with my bonus round solve that Pat wanted me to be at the end of the show explaining my strategy to him and Vanna. I felt extremely comfortable being on the set, and I felt like I was at home. Being on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ for me was like experiencing a fragment of Heaven.”
Dixie’s parents were on the “Wheel of Fortune” set to support him, and Dixie said he and his family celebrated his win afterwards in their hotel room eating chicken poppers from Papa John’s.
“To celebrate the bonus round win with [my family] and that really long hug was genuine — that was one of my favorite moments from the show,” Dixie said. “When my episode aired, I was surrounded by friends from middle school and high school, and to just see their reaction as I was solving all of those puzzles and to see them so proud of me almost made me want to cry.”
As Paaige Turner, the dean of the College of Communication, Information and Media (CCIM), watched Dixie’s “Wheel of Fortune” episode air, she said, she thought to herself how glad she was Dixie’s family was able to celebrate his win alongside him.
“So often when students go to college, the moments that are meaningful are not visible to their families,” Turner said. “The moment you get back a test with a better grade than you thought, the moment when you do something for the very first time that you were sure wasn’t possible — this one he got to share with his family.”
Turner’s initial reaction to finding out Dixie would represent Ball State and CCIM on “Wheel of Fortune,” she said, was that they could not have chosen a better representative as Dixie embodies Beneficence values and has a smile that “lights up the room.” One of her first thoughts after finding out Dixie was chosen, she said, was that Dixie also needed a great sweatshirt to wear as a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune.”
“I was off campus, so I contacted Any Ung, [the] CCIM program manager, and asked her to take Christian to the BSU Bookstore and make sure he got two sweatshirts and two t-shirts on my account,” Turner said.
Ung initially organized a watch party for the day Dixie’s episode would air, but due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Ball State’s caution against large gatherings, she said, Dixie live-streamed his episode on CCIM's Facebook page from his home instead.
Twenty people joined the live stream during the airing of the episode, Ung said, but after its airing, more than 800 people had viewed the Facebook watch party video, including viewers from Indiana and nine other states. Ung said it was “a beautiful thing to witness” as she saw viewers’ “unanimously and overwhelmingly positive” reactions to Dixie’s episode.
“Given Christian’s love for [Wheel of Fortune,] I expected him to perform well, but I did not expect him to perform to that level,” Ung said. “He made the whole thing look effortless, and what I liked the most is that he really stayed true to himself. The positivity and humility he showed on screen? This is exactly how he is in real life. I do not think we could have hoped for a better way to represent Ball State.”
Looking toward his future, Dixie said he will put a majority of the remainder of his winnings toward his college education.
“Now that I've accomplished getting on the show, and on my first try, too, I'd love to one day work for ‘Wheel of Fortune’ as a contestant producer,” Dixie said, “so I can help other contestants make their dreams come true, just like the contestant producers did for me when they selected me for the show.”