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Patrick Mehler '23 on Wheel of Fortune

“Vowels Are Your Best Friends”

Patrick Mehler’s recipe for victory on “Wheel of Fortune” Monday was years in the making.

First, he grew up in a “Wheel” family. The Mehlers of Yonkers love “Wheel.”

“I have to give massive credit to my grandparents, who live in Chicago and are pushing 90. ‘Why, they kept asking me, aren’t you on there?’” They’ve been watching “Wheel” for decades and knew Patrick would kill it.

Then, the pandemic sequestered Mehler in his dorm room.

He bought a TV, invested in cable and hunkered down at 7 every night to watch the show.

Meanwhile, he’s a student at the ILR School, where some joke the acronym stands for “I Love Reading.”

Preparing for his national TV debut meant months of reading – a snap.

He learned that when you’re a “Wheel of Fortune” contestant, “Vowels are your best friends. Buy the vowels.”

Pat Sajak tipped him off before the February filming in Los Angeles to “just look at the puzzles, not the wheel.”

It worked.

After a rocky start, Mehler came roaring back to win against Howard University and Cal Poly students.

The take-home?

Forty-thousand in cash and a trip for two to Barbados valued at almost $12,000.

Mehler has invited Julia Risi ’23, his girlfriend, to join him in the Caribbean.

He’s saving the $40,000 for law school or graduate school.

Today, it’s back to the real world, which includes his post on the Ithaca Common Council, where he hopes his first bill – widening protections for renters – is voted into law next week.

Mehler also joins the unofficial ILRie game show hall of fame today.

Roland Lange '89 won two "Jeopardy" games and $22,500 in 2001 and Dave Price '87 hosted a week of shows on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" in 2008, according to Corey Ryan Earle, CALS ’07, who teaches Cornell’s history course.

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