McLean HS teacher will compete in upcoming ‘Wheel of Fortune’ episode

Physics/Astronomy Instructor Jeff Brocketti at McLean High School on The Wheel of Fortune (Courtesy Eric McCandless/Wheel of Fortune®/© 2022 Califon Productions, Inc. ARR)

McLean High School teacher Jeffrey Brocketti can’t wait to tell everyone what he discussed with host Pat Sajak during a commercial break from “Wheel of Fortune.”

He’ll soon be able to share that story and more after his episode – the 10th of the game show’s 40th season – airs Monday (September 26) at 7 p.m. on ABC.

However, when it comes to solving the hangman-style word puzzles, even Brocketti can pull a loophole when he turns on the TV next week – a common phenomenon based on conversations with fellow competitors.

“They don’t remember all the puzzles from their show, which sounds ridiculous,” Brocketti told FFXnow. “You’d think that would just burn itself into your brain, but it’s not. So I’m kind of looking forward to watching the episode, just seeing how it went and if it matches my memory of it.”

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Brocketti, who has taught physics and astronomy at McLean High for over a decade, describes the experience of filming a show he saw as a kid as “surreal.”

At the suggestion of his wife and one of his children, he applied to be a candidate “on a whim” in April 2021. He initially dismissed the idea, but as he was “sitting around” a few weeks later, he decided it couldn’t hurt, especially since the pandemic had moved the entire testing process online.

After submitting the form and a 30-second video pitch, Brocketti admits he forgot about the whole venture until last January when an unexpected email hit his inbox: he’d been selected, at a virtual audition to participate.

“The first thing I did was check the email address to make sure it wasn’t some kind of phishing email,” he said. “I thought it was a scam and when I found out it was real I realized oh, this could actually happen.”

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In February, Brocketti was told he had made the edit and set his DVR to record “Wheel” and watched every night with his family, pretending to compete against the on-screen contestants using a pen as a mock buzzer .

However, he fell out of routine in mid-April, leaving a backlog of over 70 episodes when he was told his July 28 episode would be filming on the Sony Pictures Studios lot in Culver City, California.

“I watched more than three months of episodes in two weeks,” Brocketti recalls with a laugh. “So that was my preparation. Just watch the show and play against the people on TV and try to get better.”

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In a way, it was easier to compete in person than at home, says Brocketti. Unlike on TV, contestants can always see the boards showing each puzzle and the letters used, and after going through two dress rehearsals, his nervousness evaporated when the actual game began.

However, the “deluge of information you have in your brain” made it difficult to focus and fully digest the experience, he added.

Brocketti isn’t the first person to represent Fairfax County in “Wheel,” following in the footsteps of a former Chantilly Little League coach who won nearly $123,000. He encourages anyone interested in participating in the show to give it a try.

“Just try it and see what happens,” he said.

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