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Bluffton man played ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ Here are some of the game show’s secrets

Wheel of Fortune watch party for Bluffton’s Ben Hoover

Ben Hoover is one popular fellow. Hundreds of his friends joined him and his wife at Fat Patties in Old Town Bluffton on May 26, 2016, to watch Hoover on "Wheel of Fortune". A Bluffton resident, Hoover taped his appearance on the world-famous show
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Ben Hoover is one popular fellow. Hundreds of his friends joined him and his wife at Fat Patties in Old Town Bluffton on May 26, 2016, to watch Hoover on "Wheel of Fortune". A Bluffton resident, Hoover taped his appearance on the world-famous show

If you’re a regular “Wheel of Fortune” watcher, keep an eye out for a Bluffton man trying his hand at the wheel on Wednesday night.

Drew Bedingfield will be on the show at 7 p.m. May 22, and the new father shared some of the secrets of the show (although he wouldn’t tell The Island Packet what the outcome of his run was).

Bedingfield moved to Bluffton in 1989 and owns a tree service called TreeWiseMen. He and his then-expectant wife, Carley, went to the Savannah Mall casting call for “Wheel of Fortune” in late 2018.

Bedingfield entered his name in a contestant raffle at the mall and was contacted for a second interview. Later, he got a call to be in Culver City, California, for taping on April 4.

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The “Wheel of Fortune” Wheelmobile. Wheel of Fortune

Once he got to California, Bedingfield said he stepped into a world of game show secrets.

“Wheel of Fortune” tapes five shows each day in Studio 11 at Sony Pictures — right next to the “Jeopardy!” studio, according to Kyle Montplaisir, senior coordinator of publicity and promotions for the show.

Here are a few things you may not know about participating in game shows:

If you’re running for public office, you can’t be on the show

Bedingfield said there were about two hours of legal rules to review before he went on camera.

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Drew Bedingfield of Bluffton will spin the “Wheel of Fortune” on Wednesday night. Carol Kaelson/Photographer

One of those rules was that the contestant couldn’t be running for public office while they’re on the show, Bedingfield said. He added that he was advised not to run for office in the next two or three years.

“They could say I had more air time,” he explained. “Then (Sony) would have to offer identical amount of air time to the opponent.”

Montplaisir confirmed Tuesday that contestants are asked before taping whether they are running for office, and the show has never run into an incident with a candidate’s air-time.

Bedingfield said he wasn’t planning to run for office, anyway.

You don’t get to be a tourist at Sony Pictures studios

The show, which is filmed at the Sony Pictures Entertainment Studios in Culver City, isn’t open for inspection by game show participants.

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YouTube screenshot Wheel of Fortune

A bus came to pick up the contestants and bring them to the studio, and Bedingfield said they were allowed to be only in certain rooms at certain times — no sightseeing allowed.

“It was like being on a fifth-grade field trip. You wanted to look around, but you were always being chaperoned,” he said.

You can’t be a serial game show contestant

Although many people have made news for winning big on several game shows, it’s the order of the shows you appear on that counts.

“There are all types of restrictions of other game shows you can’t be on,” Bedingfield said.

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Pat Sajak, right, explains to ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant Jonny Knowles, from North Carolina, he didn’t pronounce ‘flamenco’ correctly. Wheel of Fortune; YouTube screenshot

According to the terms and conditions on the “Wheel of Fortune” application, a participant can’t have been on another game show, dating-relationship show or reality show within the last year or on three such shows in the last 10 years.

So if you’re planning to make serial game show appearances, make sure you plan ahead.

You have to pay for more than you think

Most of the contestant’s journey on the show is self-financed, Bedingfield said.

He paid to fly out to Culver City and to stay there during filming.

However, Montplaisir said each contestant is guaranteed $1,000 when they appear on the show as a “consolation prize.”

“That, in theory, is to cover those expenses,” he said Tuesday.

Bedingfield will hold a “Wheel of Fortune” watch party for his appearance Wednesday night at his home in Bluffton with his new daughter, Finley. Tune in to the show at 7 p.m. on WSAV.

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Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.
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