A West Hurley man hit the jackpot on his favorite game show Wheel of Fortune, racking up $82,050.
In the episode that aired a couple weeks ago, Michael Desisto sailed through the hangman-style game, solving four of the word puzzles and amassing $32,050 before entering the bonus round. He then won another $50,000 as his father Tom, mother Terry, and cousin Stephen cheered.
The show was scheduled to air on WABC in New York on April 24 but was late because of the NFL Draft.
Desisto said he applied online last year to be a contestant and had to submit a one-minute video. “A couple months later I got an email from Wheel Watchers Club that I got an audition,” he said.
Desisto participated in a group audition in New York, where everyone called letters as they would in the actual game. He had a written test with puzzles. He was then chosen among others to play mock games and did a practice interview.
Shortly after, Desisto was thrilled to find out he’d been chosen to be on the show. The April 24 episode was part of a Surfin’ Safari theme week.
He flew out to Los Angeles for the taping on March 13, which turned out to be just under the wire. “It was right before the shutdown,” he said. “It was the last day of taping.”
Desisto also won a trip to Antigua, where he hopes it’s safe to go next April for Autism Awareness Month.
“My time on the show was amazing,” he said. “Pat Sajak and Vanna White were amazing.”
Desisto, a SUNY New Paltz graduate, is a music instructor for Zylofone, an organization that encourages creativity through the arts for people with special needs. “We work with seniors and other populations, too,” Desisto explained. “Besides music, we do art, theater and dancing.”
Desisto is also a delivery driver at Catskill Mountain Pizza. He is taking a break from that job to minimize his exposure to Covid 19.
At times, Desisto seemed to make Wheel of Fortune look easy, though he says it’s not easy to qualify to become a contestant. What’s his secret?
“I always picture the category and picture what would make sense,” he said. “Use the letterboard. Make sure to not call letters that were already called.”