San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Student ‘hits the Jackpot’ on Tv Show

ByElizabeth ValenteContributor

“I’d like to solve the puzzle, please, Pat.”

These words, said by political science junior Dennis Cisterna III,won a total of $42,300 this summer which included a 19-foot sailboatand an all-expense paid fishing trip to Canada.

Cisterna was a guest on the popular game show “Wheel of Fortune”July 19.

“I was planning on winning if I got on the show,” Cisterna said.”Or at least doing something.”

Tomorrow at 8 p.m., he and the rest of California will be able towatch the taped broadcast of the show.

Last spring “Wheel of Fortune” held auditions on campus. Aftersubmitting a picture and solving a puzzle at the first audition,Cisterna was invited back to a more intense audition at the La JollaHilton. There he was selected as a contestant out of about 700 othercandidates.

“I was stoked,” Cisterna said. “Being a college student, I’m kindof poor, so I was hoping I could get money as quick as possible.”

Cisterna won the game when he was given the letters R, S, T, L, Nand E for the final puzzle. He said he then chose the letters C, K, Pand A. After that, the answer was clearly “hit the jackpot,” he said.

“I just got a big grin on my face,” Cisterna said. “My mom didn’teven believe me.”

About $10,500 of his earnings will go to taxes.

Cisterna said he did not go to the show unprepared, as he usedpractice puzzles for guidance.

He said they even sent guidelines for apparel. Men are required towear a suit and tie, and military personnel must wear their mostformal uniform. Also, red and white are off limits.

“The first five hours (I was there) were spent going over rulesand regulations,” Cisterna said. “And (how) to spin the wheelproperly so no one gets their necktie caught (in it) and isdecapitated.”

He said he and other guests were not allowed to interact with PatSajak or Vanna White until they were being taped, so the cameraswould capture the contestant’s reactions.

Cisterna said he did catch a glimpse of White getting some waterin the snack room before the show and that she’s beautiful, thoughboth she and Sajak are shorter in real life. In fact, Cisterna saidthe entire stage, and the wheel are all smaller than they appear ontelevision.

Cisterna said contestants varied. Some were photogenic, some morepersonable and some had a more “wholesome” quality.

“There were some grandmas there that were so sweet and nice, andthey were giving shout-outs at the beginning to all (their) 18grandchildren (in the audience),” Cisterna said.

One of these grandmothers was Cisterna’s competitor, along with amilitary officer. The woman did not solve any puzzles and was theonly guest to leave with just parting prizes, Cisterna said. Theofficer won $2,000.

“They were totally happy for me, which made me feel even worse,”Cisterna said.

Cisterna said he’s currently taking sailing lessons so he can usehis new sailboat, but he said he’s probably going to sell the trip toCanada. He said he’s also planning on investing the money and livingoff the interest.

“Or I’ll buy a 1971 Corvette, that would probably be cooler,”Cisterna said.

For information on how to be a game show contestant, see

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Student ‘hits the Jackpot’ on Tv Show