Westport Teacher Chris Scholz Wins Big on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Sophie de Bruijn, Breaking News Managing Editor

On Thursday October 3, the Westport audience of the game show “Wheel of Fortune” was significantly higher than usual: Westport Coleytown Elementary School physical education teacher and Westport girl’s PAL basketball coach Chris Scholz made his game show debut winning a grand total of $56,850.

“Words cannot describe how happy I am for Coach Scholz,” said Dayna Gelman ’14, who played on the travel basketball team for Scholz throughout middle school. “He is one of the nicest people I have ever met and he absolutely deserves it.”

Scholz said he initially auditioned for the show’s “New York” week which taped in the early Spring. After sending in a minute long video describing himself and why he wanted to be on the show, he received an email inviting him to come to Brooklyn for an audition.

After auditioning, Sholz received a letter inviting him to a January taping but, he said, made the tough decision to not go as he had already used all of his allotted personal days for the year. Teachers in Westport may take two personal days each year, according to the school system’s contract.

“I was nervous this was the end of my chances,” he said.

Luckily, this was not the case. Scholz received a call in June to tape for “Teacher’s Week” on July 11.

“I was very excited but also very nervous,” he said. “My biggest fear was ending up on YouTube under the headline ‘Worst Contestant Ever,’ but you can’t win if you don’t play. I was excited to represent the town of Westport, so I put the nerves and negative thoughts aside.”

After taping the episode over the summer, Scholz had to wait several months in silence without sharing his success. “I hated not being able to tell people, because the people that would ask honestly cared about the outcome,” he said. “It was well worth the wait, but its not often that I walk around for three months with a secret that big!”

The long weeks of waiting paid off, however, and Scholz celebrated the airing of the episode last week, at a restaurant in South Norwalk surrounded by friends, coworkers, and family members.

“It was weird, like real weird, to see myself on TV. I was just happy to share the moment with people that mean a lot to me,” said Scholz. “My wife was just happy that I made it to the bonus round so that she was able to get on television too.”

According to Scholz, the support and excitement from his students and friends has been overwhelming. “One of my fifth graders ran up to me, and I expected him to say ‘Good job!,”’ but instead he says, ‘Can I borrow 50 bucks?’ That was the best so far, but every student has been very excited for me.”

Scholz said he and his wife, Kelly, plan on using the prize money for a down payment on a house. “I consider this whole process very lucky, as so many things had to fall into place for this whole end result,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always had a knack for since I was younger, and it really paid off!”