Kevin Oill grew up shouting answers at the television while watching “Wheel of Fortune” with his parents after the evening news. He said he knew he had a knack for it at a young age when he started beating his parents at the puzzles.
“It was just one of those things my family always did together,” said Oill, 25, a SUNY Geneseo alumnus.
Monday, the Mt. Sinai native competed in front of a slightly larger audience when he appeared on “Wheel of Fortune” on WABC-TV and won $9,550 in cash and prizes during an episode taped on Aug. 23.
Oill, an information technology recruiter who moved to Raleigh, N.C., last year, said he watched the show at a bar with friends while his family in Mount Sinai was hoping to have power long enough to see him in the middle of superstorm Sandy.
“It was funny because — well not actually funny — but it was like the people that I know from there were more worried about watching me on TV then the impending storm coming down on them,” he said.
Although WABC-TV was covering the storm, Oill said his friends in Long Island caught the episode on an ABC digital channel.
“My family’s power went out at 4:30 p.m. and came back for about an hour, around the time of ‘Wheel of Fortune,’” said Oill. “It was like a little magical window opened up for them to see their son on TV.”
Oill said he never expected to be on the show when the “Wheel Mobile,” used to find contestants, came to Raleigh last St. Patrick’s Day.
“I showed up with 1,000 people and put my name down and I actually got picked out,” he said.
Oill went on stage and did a mock show. He said he thinks making the crowd laugh was key to getting to the next round.
“Other people were getting nervous, and I was talking to the crowd, so they remembered me,” he said.
Three months later, Oill got a letter saying he would be going to a three-hour audition in Raleigh. Two weeks after that, Oill found out that we would be flying to Los Angeles to be a contestant.
“It was surreal and it all happened so quickly,” said Oill. “Seeing Vanna White and all the morning preparation was just, ‘Whoa!’”
After correctly guessing the phrases “Bags of Candy” and “Lose Your Blues Everybody Cut Footloose,” Oill walked away with cash and a trip to the Bahamas for two.
Oill said the romantic getaway will be spent with a “buddy.”
“I don’t have a lady in my life right now and if I got one, who knows if I’d still be dating her when I go in March,” said Oill. “I’m bringing my friend so that if we get into some sort of altercation I can still say, ‘OK, forget it, let’s just go to the Bahamas.’”
Above: Mount Sinai native Kevin Oill appeared on the Oct. 29 edition of Wheel of Fortune.