Growing up, Ross McCurdy never missed watching a "Wheel of Fortune" episode with his mother.
When he learned he'd be a contestant on the popular game show solving word puzzles Oct. 30, he started eating alphabet soup - for good luck - and watching "Wheel of Fortune" regularly, yelling out answers before players on the television screen.
As viewers learned Dec. 17, when the episode aired, McCurdy earned second place, winning $6,000 in cash and $14,000 in trips to Chile and Sonoma, Calif.
"I went in thinking, 'If I make $3,000, I'll be happy,'" McCurdy said. "In the end, I was really excited. Who doesn't want to go on a trip?"
For those who didn't see, McCurdy solved the first toss up, solving the "show business" question with the answer "director's cut." He also solved the second toss up, answering "pine cones" when the category was "things." Other puzzle answers included "wine cellars and tasting rooms," "there's no business like show business," "magnifying glass slipper," "actor Johnny Depp," "extra virgin olive oil" and "maiden voyage."
McCurdy, a 26-year-old waiter at The Oak Table Cafe, approached "Wheel of Fortune" producers about appearing on the show while they dined at the restaurant. One month later, he received an e-mail congratulating him on being selected to participate in the second round of auditions in Seattle.
Now, McCurdy said, he has the bug for game shows, claiming, "There's no game show I couldn't do well on."
McCurdy lives in Sequim with his wife and two children.
In addition to planning to open an Oak Table franchise in Poulsbo, he's a filmmaker and comedian.
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