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Fairfax County resident wins big on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Mike Halpern appears on “Wheel of Fortune” (courtesy Carol Kaelson/Wheel of Fortune, Califon Productions)

A former Chantilly little league coach has another title: “Wheel of Fortune” winner.

Mike Halpern won $122,903 in cash and prizes during his appearance on the TV game show yesterday (Monday), an outcome that he mostly kept secret even from his family and friends.

“I wanted them to be surprised,” he said. “They had a little bit of a hint of the fact that I didn’t completely bomb.”

With over half the letters missing in the final puzzle, Halpern guessed a two-word phrase that won him $100,000, leading him to make a snow angel in the prize confetti that rained down around him.

Talking with host Pat Sajak at the beginning of the episode, Halpern said he was a baseball coach with Chantilly Youth Association Little League for 14 seasons. He coached both of his sons there, too.

“I loved being on the field, and it was great to watch them grow up,” Halpern said on the show.

Halpern filmed his appearance in Culver City, California, near the Los Angeles Airport on March 23. He arranged a watch party at Mustang Sally Brewery in Chantilly, which found a way to open on a closed day for them.

Early in the game, both of his competitors lost their prize earnings with a spin and mystery wedge that led to bankruptcies. One contender lost her earnings twice.

Halpern also won a $9,003 trip to Aruba, which he’s never visited before.

A regular viewer of the show since he was a kid, Halpern and his wife decided to share the news of his appearance on the show with their two teenage sons by creating a “Wheel of Fortune” puzzle on a piece of paper. The boys took turns guessing until they revealed the answer: “I got picked to spin the wheel.”

The family also helped him prepare.

“We would pause every night’s episode before the bonus round,” Halpern said. “They would watch it. I would…leave the room.”

To complete the simulated experience, one of their sons set a 10-second countdown with a timer on his iPhone.

At the brewery watch party, Halpern’s friends also released confetti cannons to help recreate the experience.

“I knew what happened, but like, no one else in the entire place had any clue,” Halpern said.

When Sajak opened the envelope with the prize, the Chantilly watch party lost its mind.

“It felt like a dream,” he said. “It was just awesome.”

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