UK professor wins big on Wheel of Fortune


College of Education professor Joan Mazur competed on the popular game show Wheel of Fortune, winning $35,650 and a trip to London. 

Sierra McLean

When a UK professor started watching Wheel of Fortune 35 years ago, she never imagined she would be a contestant.

Now, all Joan Mazur, a professor in the College of Education, can think about is how lucky she is.

Last May, when the Wheelmobile came to the Middletown Kroger parking lot in Louisville, Mazur never thought about going to audition.

“This was all my husband’s doing. My husband said, ‘I can’t believe you’re not going to drive up there and try out,’” she said. “So I got dressed and went up.”

Mazur said the Wheelmobile, which is a Wheel of Fortune van that is used for auditions for the show, is very low-tech. She said the operators interviewed her in front of the crowd.

“I said, ‘Go Cats!’ and hundreds of people started cheering,” Mazur said.

Mazur said getting chosen as a contestant is complete luck; hopeful people put their names in a bin.

“It’s still sinking in for me,” she said.

While vacationing in New York in mid-July, Mazur got an email from Wheel of Fortune inviting her to do a second audition in Louisville. Mazur flew back to Louisville to make her audition.

Mazur said her second audition was “pretty challenging.” When she didn’t get asked to stay after her audition, she assumed that she wouldn’t be selected to be a contestant on the show.

In late August, Mazur received an email saying she had been selected to be on Wheel of Fortune. When Mazur couldn’t make it to the taping on Sept. 14, they told her to come three months later.

“They’re very flexible about time,” she said.

Mazur spent the entire day of Dec. 14 on the set of Wheel of Fortune. One of the things she learned was how to spin the wheel.

“The wheel weighs 2,400 pounds,” she said. “It was very difficult to spin the wheel.”

While on the show, Mazur didn’t think about winning. She was only thinking about having fun.

“It was really fun. They are very professional… They really make it fun.”

Her mindset going into the game made it even more shocking for her when she won.

“I actually didn’t know I had won… I didn’t realize I had won until he said, ‘Joan’s the big winner!’” she said. “I wasn’t prepared to win.”

Mazur made it all the way to the bonus round, but unfortunately didn’t complete the puzzle. Even though she didn’t win the bonus round, she won various prizes, including $35,650 and a trip to London.

Mazur hasn’t received her prizes yet. She will have to wait about 120 days after the airing of her episode, which was this past Tuesday. But Mazur seemed less worried about the prizes than about how much fun she had.

“I got to spend a couple of days with my twin sister. We went over to the Pacific,” she said. “It was fun… I was really lucky.”

Mazur said again that she has her husband, Frank, to thank for “that little push.”

“He was pretty incredulous,” she said. “He really deserves the credit for making the suggestion obvious.”

View Mazur’s episode at