On March 25, 2016, 23 year-old Robert Santoli appeared as a contestant on the popular TV game show, Wheel of Fortune. As it turns out, not only did he become the big winner of the day ($76,086 including two cruises), but his appearance became a viral internet sensation, not so much for his outstanding money win but for his unbelievable skill at the game.
A 2015 graduate of Fordham University with a BS degree in Information Sciences, Robert won the day on seven of the show’s eight puzzles, barely gave the other two contestants a chance to get a guess in edgewise, and solved the first puzzle, a two-word, 14 letter stumper (“Port & Starboard”) with just one letter and the ampersand showing. Within hours of the show’s airing, Robert’s win was lighting the internet on fire.
“It was totally unexpected,” Robert said. “I didn’t promote the win online or do anything like that, it just happened.” But his remarkable puzzle solving skills, particularly on the “one letter” solve, were immediately recognized and social media began to buzz…and buzz…and buzz, sparking what became a frenzy of internet chatter.
Adding to the online frenzy, the media picked up the story and headlines began to appear exclaiming, Wheel of Fortune’s Contestant’s Epic Performance Goes Viral, Wheel of Fortune Contestant Solves Puzzle With One Letter!, Wheel of Fortune Genius Takes the Day, Man’s Amazing Performance on Wheel of Fortune Goes Viral, Wheel of Fortune Player Destroys Competition, and the ultimate headline, Greatest Wheel of Fortune Player Ever.
The TV news coverage was even more astonishing. Over 350 local media outlets across the country ran stories on the win that blanketed nearly every market in the United States including national stories via CNN, Fox News, ABC World News Tonight, Good Morning America, Today, The Five, The Talk, Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, Inside Edition, Time Magazine, and on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (twice!), among others. France, Australia, and the UK jumped into the fray as well with London’s Daily Mail headlining, Would YOU Have Guessed It? Wheel of Fortune Player Solves Puzzle With Just One Letter. And to date, the You Tube video featuring highlights of Robert’s win has racked up nearly 5 million views!
Today, three months since his Wheel of Fortune episode aired, Robert, a passionate gamer, is seeking a full-time position in the New York tri-state region in the entertainment or gaming industry where he can bring his innovative skills in application programming and design to the right company. Interested employers can view his resume at: lsantoli.wix.com/wheelrob. He can be contacted at RobWheel10@gmail.com.
Adding yet another notch to his belt, Robert recently learned that his amazing performance has made a permanent impression on the show itself. He explained, “My name is now being used as a verb at current Wheel auditions. Potential contestants are urged to ‘Robert’ the game.”
Note: Robert’s winning Wheel of Fortune episode will be re-airing on Friday, June 24, 2016 on ABC-TV.
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Lorraine Santoli is the former Director of Corporate Synergy for The Walt Disney Company, author of the book, Inside the Disney Marketing Machine, and public speaker. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org