Local police officer spins to win on W-HEEL OF FORT_NE


David Vaughn always wanted to be on 'Wheel of Fortune' and there he was Friday, Oct. 13, winning at 'The Wheel.' The Horseshoe Bay police officer says the game is much harder in person than it seems watching at home.



By Richard Zowie

The Highlander

Some make visits out to Los Angeles, California to try to make it in show business. Others go because they want to visit the Pacific Ocean or go to Disneyland.

David Vaughn, a police officer with the Horseshoe Bay Police Department, went to fulfill a longtime dream of competing on the television game show “Wheel of Fortune.”

“I started watching it when I was about seven,” said Vaughn, who worked as a police officer in Houston prior to moving to the Hill Country. “I’ve always been a fan of the show and liked trying to figure out puzzles. They reminded me of the Hangman kind of games we’d play as kids. People would come over and watch with me and tell me I was good and should try to get on.”

Vaughn spent five years filling out forms online and even submitted an audition tape two years ago.

This past June, Wheel of Fortune producers called and invited Vaughn to Austin to audition for the show. They played a few mock rounds of the show and he made the first cut. A few weeks later, he received word he’d been selected to go out to Los Angeles for an Aug. 10 taping date.

The show then aired Oct. 13.

“You pay for the hotel and airfare, and they pay you $1,000 for being on the show,” Vaughn said. “If you receive gifts or prizes, you have to wait 120 days.”

He won $20,950 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Punta Cana, a town on the eastern edge of the Dominican Republic. He won the bulk of his prizes by solving the phrase, “WHAT MORE _OULD YOU ASK _OR?”

Vaughn then won the final round by solving the phrase “RESE_RC_ REPORT.”

Then in the bonus round, after “Wheel of Fortune” provided the standard R, S, T, L, N and E, it was a phrase _ _ _ _ LE/ _ _.

“Normally I would’ve picked C, D and M, but I decided to try letters I thought would be there,” he said.

He chose B, C, K and the vowel U, as he initially thought it might be “Buckle Up,” and it came down to _U _ _LE/U_.

Unable to solve the bonus round puzzle, Vaughn missed out on an additional $35,000.

At first, Vaughn thought the show might be as easy as it is from home.

“You watch from the comfort of your house and solve it, but on the show you look at rhw used letter board, watch the scoreboard on the left, deal with the pressure of [host] Pat Sajak to hurry up,” Vaughn said. “You have three seconds before you get buzzed. You also have to consider how money you need, what letter you want to pick, spinning. You can’t just concentrate on solving the puzzle.”

Vaughn met both Sajak and hostess Vanna White and described both as friendly. They encouraged him and the other contestants to relax and have fun.

Once on the show, Vaughn and the other contestants received specific rules: no interacting with families that were in the studio audience. No waiting or nodding to them.

“If you talk to anyone in the audience, you’re disqualified,” he said. “You get to see how things are done in production, such as a second take Sajak had to do when doing a bit with a contestant about something new for the show’s 35th year.”

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