Southern Utah University freshman wins ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Jun 13, 2023, 7:30 AM | Updated: 10:15 am

Southern Utah University freshman Kira Paskett wins "Wheel of Fortune." The episode aired June 6. (...

Southern Utah University freshman Kira Paskett wins "Wheel of Fortune." The episode aired June 6. (Carol Kaelson, Wheel of Fortune, Califon Productions)

(Carol Kaelson, Wheel of Fortune, Califon Productions)

CEDAR CITY — It isn’t often that one spins a colorful wheel, guesses some letters, buys a vowel or two and comes home with $14,800. But when it happens, it’s definitely news worth sharing, and Southern Utah University student Kira Paskett is glad she can finally share the news.

In January, Paskett, who just finished her freshman year, applied to be on the game show “Wheel of Fortune” after seeing an advertisement on social media. A few weeks later, filming commenced and the 18-year-old would spend the next 23 minutes playing a game that she had only ever heard of.

“I saw an ad on Instagram asking for applications, and I applied on a whim,” Paskett said. “I definitely had not spent hours watching the show, before, but I wanted something that would push me out of my comfort zone and just get me out of a rut. I went through the phone and Zoom interviews and, then I got cast on the show.”

Paskett, who is majoring in musical theater with a minor in early childhood development, said she was really excited to be on the show, but it felt a little out of her league.

“I was super nervous going in because I knew there was a possibility I would be going against people from Ivy League schools and those who had been dedicated fans for a long time,” she said. “I had watched maybe two or three episodes before the day of my taping and played a little app on my phone to help me practice the puzzle. I was kind of going in just to have fun, make friends, learn all that I could about television shows and just take in the whole experience.”

The show aired on June 6 and Paskett said she is excited to finally be able to talk about her experience spinning the famed wheel in front of longtime duo Pat Sajak and Vanna White — of whom she may or may not have heard of before applying for the show.

“My mom came on the show with me and we road-tripped to California, which was crazy, and oh, my gosh, it was such a long drive,” she said. “We were both just so excited the whole time and giddy. Obviously, you can’t talk about the show until the show airs.

“I had a huge watch party with all of my family and friends and everyone was screaming and cheering me on,” Paskett continued. “It was a really special moment.”

Despite her insecurities and limited experience with the show, Paskett was able to show her cheering audience that she did, in fact, have what it took to win. Her win consisted three rounds of solving the puzzles, including “Breakfast buffet,” “A good group of friends,” and “Playing Twister.”

Unfortunately, the bonus round proved unsuccessful — she did not get the $40,000 bonus — but, she did walk away with $14,800 and an experience she will not soon forget.

“It was so fun, and everything was just so fast paced,” she said. “It was the fastest 23 minutes of my life! I don’t know how I was able to make it through. My brain was so fried by the end, trying to think of all of these letters in my mind and I just couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. I was just so excited to be there!”

As for the money, the soon-to-be sophomore said she plans on putting it toward her tuition at Southern Utah University.

And, according to a recent post from the university, they are very proud to have Paskett part of their T-Bird Nation.

Other reading: SUU sees largest increase in enrollment out of Utah System of Higher Education

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Southern Utah University freshman wins ‘Wheel of Fortune’