For as long as he can remember, Chris Newman, 32, has been watching the “Wheel of Fortune” with his family. When the show was on in their household, Chris and his siblings, along with their dad, Neal Newman, would compete to see who could solve the puzzles the fastest.
Since the Red Wing High School graduate moved to Southern California in 2012 after graduating from the University of Minnesota, these competitions have been postponed until the family is back together during the holidays.
“It’s a known fact that I can’t reach my dad between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific time because the ‘Wheel’ is on in Minnesota,” Chris said.
But this Tuesday, May 18, will be a little different. All of those years of puzzle competitions in the living room will be put to the test as Neal will turn to WCCO at 6:30 p.m. Central time to watch Chris compete on their favorite game show.
After applying and auditioning for the game show twice, “a friend of mine suggested I give it another shot because he thought I was a freak for solving puzzles so fast,” Chris said. A few weeks later, he found the invitation to audition in his junk email. Luckily, with time to spare, he responded to set up a Zoom audition.
Fast forward a few more weeks and Chris received the call: he had been selected to compete.
“I couldn’t call my dad fast enough, he was so stoked!” The show was taped on March 11 and will air this Tuesday.
One Christmas, Neal was adamant about putting on the show. His wife, Kim Newman, said not to even think about it.
“I didn't put it on,” Neal recalled “but I set the microwave timer and the oven timer bulb to go off at 6:55, right during the final puzzle. So the timers are going off while we're eating. And she goes, is there something in the oven?”
Nobody said a thing, but the kids went straight for the final puzzle.
“Left a meal just to hit the final puzzle,” Neal said. “It's so stupid, but anyway, we kind of laugh about it.”
Chris and his wife, Sophie, have been married for four and a half years. They recently bought a home in Hawthorne, Calif., after living in Hermosa Beach for eight years. The two have a 1-year-old cavapoo puppy named Prince.
In 2018, Chris was diagnosed with late-stage melanoma. After a rapid response to immunotherapy, he has been cancer-free for nearly three years. When Chris is not working as an employee benefits consultant at USI Insurance Services, he and his wife love to travel, eat good food and drink good wine.
You can watch Chris compete on "Wheel of Fortune" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 18, as it airs on WCCO Channel 4.