‘WHEEL OF FORTUNE’: Local woman wins big on show she’s watched for decades

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NEW PALESTINE — A New Palestine woman scored over $16,000 in cash and prizes when she competed on “Wheel of Fortune” in an episode that aired Friday.

Jennifer Klase and her husband Dan, who attended the March 7 taping in Culver City, Calif., signed a nondisclosure agreement and couldn’t speak about what happened until after the episode aired.

The couple watched the show on the big screen at El Toro Mexican restaurant in New Palestine with a group of 15 or so friends and family members Friday night.

Afterward, a young boy approached Klase and asked to have his picture taken with the newfound television star.

“It was the cutest thing,” said Klase, who has been a big “Wheel of Fortune” fan her whole life.

“I’ve been watching it for decades,” said the retired litigation specialist who graduated from New Palestine High School in 1985.

“Wheel of Fortune” has been a weeknight staple in American living rooms since it first aired in 1975.

Klase said she applied on a whim to become a contestant, and gradually went through the arduous interview process to make it onto the show.

“I retired about a year and a half ago and it was on my bucket list, so I went online one day and applied,” she said.

She called the whole process a dream come true, and considered it an honor to appear on one of host Pat Sajak’s final shows before his retirement.

Klase said she didn’t get to chat much with Sajak or his sidekick Vanna White — who were in wardrobe changes throughout the day of taping — but a conversation she had with Sajak on-air made headlines after they discussed her 1980s “big hair.”

“Some outlet was saying Pat was harassing me, but he wasn’t at all. We were having a fun conversation,” said Klase, who still flaunts the same blond bouffant hairstyle that scored her “best hair” honors her senior year in high school.

She turned out to be a fierce “Wheel of Fortune” competitor, taking the lead until near the end of the multi-round competition, ending up in second place by a difference of $420.

 New Palestine’s Jennifer Klase enjoyed a watch party with family and friends when her episode of “Wheel of Fortune” aired Friday, April 25. She and her supporters watched the show at El Toro restaurant in New Palestine. Submitted photo

During her informal watch party Friday at El Toro, Klase’s friends and family cheered when she won a Hawaiian vacation and jeered when her spin of the wheel landed on bankruptcy, temporarily wiping out her accrued winnings.

Klase knew going in that all contestants leave with at least $1,000, although they pay for their own travel expenses.

“My husband and I decided to make a mini vacation out of it and went out to California a couple days before the taping,” said Klase. The couple spent a full day watching multiple episodes taped before a live audience at Sony Pictures Studios, including her own.

“Mine was right after lunch,” said Klase, who said filming her episode only took about 20 minutes.

Her episode ended up airing April 25, which is her 26th wedding anniversary.

Klase now has the perfect way to celebrate — by taking her husband along on the Hawaiian trip for two she won making a bucket list dream come true on national TV.