One local elementary school teacher is getting ready to grace our television screens as he fulfills his childhood dream of competing for grand prizes on 'Wheel of Fortune.'
Spring Valley resident Milton Martin has been a longtime fan of the iconic game show and said he's wanted to appear on it since he was 11. On Wednesday, he'll appear on the show's new season as it pays homage to educators with its Teacher’s Week.
“It was a dream since I was a kid and being able to fulfill that dream and to represent educators, being a teacher on that show, was probably the best of it for me," Martin told NBC 7.
Martin is a fifth-grade teacher at Ralph Dailard Elementary School. His journey to appear on 'Wheel of Fortune' began 18 months ago when he and his wife went to an audition in hopes of being featured as a couple.
After not hearing back from the show about 10 days later, Martin thought he and his wife did not make the cut.
"This summer, I get a phone call left on my message machine that it's 'Wheel of Fortune' and we'd like to know if you' be a contestant for Teacher's Week," Martin recalled. "I thought, 'this is probably a joke.' So I Googled the producer's name to see if it was legit and then I called them back and it was for real!"
The day Martin's episode was recorded was the same day crews returned to production after placing health guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic. Physical distancing was mandated, no guests were allowed on set, there was no studio audience and the show's dynamic duo, Pat Sajak and Vanna White, had to maintain proper social distancing from contestants.
"There were lots of protocols put into place for the taping of the show," Martin explained.
Even the show's namesake was not allowed to be directly touched; Martin said contestants were given a grip to spin the wheel so that they wouldn't actually touch it. That grip would then be sanitized after each use.
The fifth-grade teacher told NBC 7 that although it was a dream come true to appear on the beloved show, what really made the experience all the better for him was that he got to represent his peers.
“I love teaching," Martin said. "During this pandemic especially, I think our nation and the world recognize just how valuable and important teachers are. To open up the 38th season of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ with educators was huge. To be a part of that was exciting."
"I’m appreciative of my fellow teachers and support staff that helps provide quality education for all of our kids," he continued. "During this time of distance learning, it’s even more important that we do our best work to make sure that all our kids get access to do their best so they continue to grow and progress academically.”
Catch Milton Martin on 'Wheel of Fortune' at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 on NBC 7.