Hagerstown-area resident Jeremy Ellis came on strong in Tuesday night’s Wheel of Fortune game, winning the first two toss-up word puzzles which gave him the first turn in the game and victory in the first puzzle.
But one of his competitors from California ended up winning the game, although Ellis came home with $9,900 in cash and a trip to Miami.
“This seriously has been the most fun thing I have ever done,” Ellis told an audience at Leitersburg Cinemas Tuesday night, where the game was projected on a movie screen.
Leitersburg Cinemas offered area residents a chance to see the game for free, and Ellis talked about his appearance on the show between commercial breaks.
In the popular, long-running TV game, contestants spin a wheel for various amounts of cash. As long as they don’t end up in trouble like hitting “bankrupt” on the wheel, they can guess letters in a phrase in hopes of giving them enough of a clue to solve the word puzzle.
In the first puzzle, 32-year-old Ellis picked up two S’s, four I’s and two L’s before solving it with the answer, “The Philippine Islands.”
Ellis, who works in contractor sales at the Home Depot store on Garland Groh Boulevard, had $2,550 in cash at that point and eventually picked up two cards that made him eligible to win a Kia Soul.
Ellis lost the two Kia cards when he hit a bankrupt on the wheel. But he rallied and ended up in the lead again with $12,900.
Ellis lost a shot at winning the game when the competitor from California solved the puzzle “Twister (and) Clue” which advanced her to the final round.
The woman ended up losing a $100,000 cash prize when she could not solve the puzzle “Peak Hours.”
Dozens of people watched the game on the movie screen. Before the game started, Ellis and Leitersburg Cinemas owner Rich Daughtridge sat on stools and talked about the game.
“I can’t believe how goofy I am,” Ellis told the audience during one of the commercial breaks in the show.
“We already know,” yelled a man from the audience.
Among the people in the audience watching the show was Bernadette Dabler of Greencastle, Pa.
Dabler said she is a contractor and buys a lot of material from Ellis at Home Depot.
“And we love 'Wheel of Fortune',” Dabler said.
Debbie and Leon Cress of Hagerstown didn’t know Ellis, but thought it would be fun to watch the game after reading about the free event in the newspaper.
“I always wanted to see Vanna (White) on a big screen,” Leon Cress said.
Ellis said he was sworn to secrecy not to reveal the results until it aired.