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Long Island best friends win nearly $23G on 'Wheel of Fortune'

Sheila Campbell, left, of Miller Place, and Colleen

Sheila Campbell, left, of Miller Place, and Colleen Finegan, of Bellport, won $22,850 on the May 15 episode of "Wheel of Fortune" as part of "Best Friends Week." (March 18, 2013) (Credit: Wheel of Fortune)

Having been friends for 49 years, Sheila Campbell and Colleen Finegan often finish each other’s sentences.

But their tight bond also helped them finish the phrases presented to them during the May 15 episode of “Wheel of Fortune.”

Playing as a team, Campbell, 56, of Miller Place, and Finegan, 57, of Bellport, beat out fellow Long Islanders Chris Tsalikis, of Ridge, and Kevin Edelman, of Selden, and two other contestants from New Jersey for a Bonus Round appearance -- and a chance at $1 million -- during the show’s 2013 “Best Friends Week” in Manhattan. They taped the show March 18 at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden.

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The women, who say they share everything, will now split their winnings, $22,850 before taxes. A portion of the money will go toward a seven-day trip to Key West in September that they had already booked prior to appearing on the show. They’ll be traveling with their husbands, both New York City firefighters, and four other childhood friends from the Woodside, Queens neighborhood they grew up in.

“I so much prefer sharing the prize and playing with her than if I had played alone and had the money all to myself,” said Finegan. “I was a nervous wreck. She kept me calm and we had so much fun.”

Both women had been longtime viewers of the show, but when they found out they were going to be contestants, they started regularly watching it together. They also agreed on a strategy going in.

“We were never going to solve if we were under $5,000,” said Campbell. “We were going to keep going, just trying to win money.”

That plan went out the window, though, early into the contest when the Tsalikis-Edelman team solved the first toss-up very quickly.

“They got ‘Hot Chocolate’ with only three letters,” said Finegan. “We said, ‘Uh oh, we’re in trouble,’ after that.”

Finegan and Campbell were able to relax, though, after they solved the next puzzle --“It Runs Like A Well-Oiled Machine” -- to get on the board with $2,300. Remaining calm and focusing on simply enjoying the experience, then, enabled them to solve the next puzzle, which included the names of the characters from longtime NBC hit show “Friends.” That round earned them a total of $20,550 in cash and prizes.

“We got a little more nerve to keep spinning, and that’s when we hit the ‘Million Dollar Wedge,’” explained Finegan of them landing on a tiny sliver on the wheel surrounded by

Their winnings, combined with landing on the wedge, allowed them to play the Bonus Round for a million dollars.

Their families were asked to join them on stage, and Finegan’s granddaughter, Shea McMahon, 12 -- who created and uploaded the video submission that earned the friends a spot on the show -- volunteered to hold the wedge.

Campbell and Finegan were unable to solve the puzzle, but the puzzle itself helped explain how they were able to get over the disappointment.

“It killed us that we didn’t get “Joking Around,” because that is all we do,” said Finegan. “We joke around all the time.”

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