The numbers fell into place for Brentwood High School math teacher Mark Rotella last night on WABC/7's "Wheel of Fortune," where he won $50,300 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
"It was an amazing experience," Rotella, 32, told Newsday. "It's always worth applying to things like that because you never know what's going to happen."
Rotella, who lives with his guidance-counselor wife Renae in West Islip, competed during the program's "Teachers Week," shot last month in Los Angeles. A longtime fan of the game show, he had applied online to be a contestant.PhotosLI game show, contest winnersPhotosLIers on reality TV
When he heard he had been chosen to compete, he coincidentally already was "celebrating the end of the school year" in New York, he says, "and my wife called me to tell me they'd accepted my application and I was going to be on it. I was super excited. I called my mother and dad, I called my grandparents down in Florida."
He recalls how on the day he competed, "You get on the set you've seen on TV so many times, and you're with the other contestants so it's a mutual excitement. You're amped up, you want to play the game."
In addition to teaching, Rotella for several years has been a lacrosse coach at Smithtown West High School.
Rotella, who was born in Queens and raised in Smithtown, plans to use his winnings to take his wife on the Cabo vacation to celebrate their anniversary. The two were married four years ago in August.