Wheel of Fortune auditions in uptown Charlotte
Myrtle Beach couple Ali and Chip McKay can recall watching Wheel of Fortune growing up and dreaming of one day getting the opportunity to appear on the popular game show.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to go on there. I’m like Wheel of Fortune obsessed,” Ali McKay told The Sun News. “I watched it with my mom every night and Chip watched it with his grandmother, and now we watch it with our kids. It’s always been a thing.”
The dynamic duo applied their knowledge and thrill for the game when they battled two other married couples to solve the hangman-style puzzles on Tuesday night’s episode of Wheel of Fortune. While the McKay’s didn’t walk away with the grand prize of a trip to a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, they took home a cash total of $27,300.
“I don’t even know how to describe it, it was a true blessing,” said McKay, a case manager for the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs in Horry County. “We just went in there with a positive outlook, and it was above and beyond anything we could ever hope for.”
After decades of loyal viewing, the McKays, who have been married for 17 years and have two children, began their journey to become contestants on America’s Game when they participated in a Wheelmobile event last November at RipTydz.
The Wheelmobile travels across the county each year searching for new players and giving loyal fans an opportunity to feel like a contestant with a simulation of the game in their hometown.
“My husband was the first one called up to play the game,” McKay said. “He got a call back at the end of January for an audition.”
The McKays said the show was on the hunt for a married couple with children under the age of 17 to appear during Aulani Resort Hawaii Vacation Week. Their journey continued with an audition at a hotel in downtown Myrtle Beach in February, and after making it through the first round, they were told they might receive an invitation in the mail to appear on the show.
McKay said she anxiously filtered through the mail every day for two weeks hoping their letter would arrive, but it never did. The following week she checked her email only to discover she and her husband made it through and needed to be in Los Angeles for the taping two weeks later.
“I never imagined that I would make the show because that’s not my type of luck,” said Chip McKay, a manager at a commercial landscape company. “Ali has always had all the luck.”
With their family in tow for the trip, Ali McKay said she and her husband went into the show with little expectations knowing they would walk away with a minimum of $2,000, enough to cover the cost of their family trip across the country. But to win over $27,000 was a plus, she said.
The only downside to walking away from the show victorious was keeping their experience a secret from everyone until the episode aired. But the couple hosted a watch party with their friends and family Tuesday night to celebrate their impressive win.
While Chip McKay said appearing on the show was a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience he would have regretted passing up, he said the experience wouldn’t have been as special or meaningful if he hadn’t done it with his wife.
“My favorite part of doing this was that we could be in this together,” he said. “Doing it with Ali made it so much better.”