CEDAR RAPIDS — Steven and Sarah Posey of Marion will be sailing through the Panama Canal this winter, thanks to “Wheel of Fortune.”
Steven, 33, wasn’t the big winner in the episode that aired Wednesday night on NBC-TV. But in the end, he and his wife will be big winners, as they’ll apply their after-tax earnings toward adopting their first child.
The Prize Puzzle was Steven’s only win, but in solving “incredible man-made waterway,” he amassed $6,350 and the 10-day cruise, valued at $7,167, which includes stops in Panama, Costa Rica, Curacao, Aruba and a private island in the Bahamas.
“I probably won’t experience that too many times in my life,” he said of his appearance and second-place finish on the popular game show.
But it’s not the couple’s first “Wheel” win. Sarah struck it big in October 2015, winning more than $60,000 and a trip to Jamaica. After clearing about 60 percent after taxes, the total was enough for Steven to quit his job as a financial adviser to take the exams to become an actuary.
They were living in San Antonio at the time, and Steven then started applying for jobs all over the world. About a year-and-a-half ago, the search led the couple to a job in Cedar Rapids. Sarah, 38, continues to work with a small nonprofit group based in Texas, which sends college students on mission trips wherever they’re needed around the world.
The couple are big on playing word games, and with their competitive natures, agree it’s best to play on the same team, rather than against each other. They’ve even been part of a national trivia championship team.
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In 2017, Sarah also got to come on down to the contestant row for “The Price is Right,” although she didn’t make it onto the stage. On the same trip, Steven got zonked making the wrong choice on “Let’s Make a Deal.”
No zonks or zoinks spoiled his “Wheel of Fortune” turn, taped Aug. 8 in Culver City, Calif.
He entered the contestant drawing when the game show’s Wheelmobile stopped in Des Moines last spring. His name was drawn and, after a practice run, he was asked to return to Des Moines a few weeks later for a more intensive audition. Near the end of July, he received an invitation to come to California for the show, so he and Sarah took a few days to go there, do a little sightseeing and play the game.
Watching his episode with family and friends gathered around the big screen at NewBo City Market on Wednesday was “surreal,” he said.
He had just one regret.
“Had I been able to think of the word ‘zesty,’ then I would have won the game and gone to the final round, but zesty’s just not a word I use,” he said in reflecting on one of his turns at the wheel.
“The whole experience was really cool, and it was just a blessing to be able to have the experience,” he said. “After taxes, it’ll be about four grand or five grand to put toward the adoption, and then we get the amazing trip. It was just a really cool blessing that God kind of took care of us.”
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