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Jason Merz, of Mount Sinai, wins big in Wheel of Fortune debut

Jason Merz, 38, of Mount Sinai, will represent

Jason Merz, 38, of Mount Sinai, will represent Long Island during Wheel of Fortune's "Leave Winter Behind" week on March 26, 2015. Credit: Jason Merz

Mount Sinai resident Jason Merz dominated the board on Wheel of Fortune Thursday evening, winning four puzzles in a row during the early rounds and taking home $37,576 in cash and prizes.

“It all just went so fast,” Merz said of the experience. “The show began, and then all of a sudden, we were at the final bonus round.”

Although Merz was the clear front-runner throughout the broadcast, he fell short during the bonus round, failing to correctly guess the answer to the final puzzle: “Pocket Diary.”

“There was just no way I was going to get it,” Merz said. “It was the quickest 10 seconds of my life.”

Along with $17,000 in cash, the 38-year-old owner of Metamorphosis Landscape Design in Smithtown won a brand-new Nissan Versa and an 8-day trip to Barbados.

“My wife and I are going to take advantage of that later on the year,” Merz said of the trip. “It’s going to be a really nice getaway for us.”

Merz says he applied to be a contestant on the show last year in what “started off as a goof.” After a successful audition for the show in Brooklyn last summer, Merz was put on a waiting list, until he was finally called to appear for a taping in January.

He said he watches the show with his wife Tracy, and sons Colton, 4, and Brennan 2, almost every day. He's been training for the show since he was chosen as a prospective contestant.

The show's theme was “Leave Winter Behind,” with contestants solving spring-themed puzzles to celebrate warmer weather, and the chance to win their dream vacation along the way.

“It was a great challenge,” Merz said. “I’m really glad I could actually make it happen.”

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