Bel Air man wins $3K on 'Wheel of Fortune'

One Bel Air man may have become one of the coolest assistant principals ever following his appearance on the hit game show "Wheel of Fortune," which aired Tuesday night.

Alain Chalmin, 45, a principal at Deep Creek Middle School in Essex, crossed one more thing off his bucket list after receiving a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appear on his favorite childhood game show.

"I work at Deep Creek Middle and today was probably one of the coolest days of the entire school year," Chalmin said Wednesday. "I gave a shout out to my school on the show and my kids absolutely loved it."

Chalmin and 19 other contestants flew to Culver City, Calif., to try their hand at spinning the legendary wheel and a shot at winning thousands of dollars and exotic trips.

Chalmin did not walk away with a trip to Hawaii or the grand prize. He instead spun a dreaded bankrupt, hit the buzzer without knowing the puzzle — he apologized to host Pat Sajak — and went home $3,000 richer than when he flew to California.

Chalmin said he was first introduced to "Wheel of Fortune" as a child by his grandmother, who watched religiously.

This was not Chalmin's first attempt at the spinning the big wheel; when he was 21, he auditioned for the show, but was not chosen.

"I've always loved 'Wheel of Fortune,'" Chalmin said. "It's a show I've always been good at."

About two years ago, Chalmin, still a regular watcher of the game show, joined the Wheel Watchers Club. Earlier this year, he said he saw a link to be a contestant on the show, so he applied.

"I thought, I'm going for it," Chalmin said. "I had no idea where it was going to go, but it was one of my bucket list items."

In April, Chalmin was contacted by the show to head down to Baltimore for auditions.

"There were 80 to 100 people there and we played simulated games," he said. "After the games you take a test to see how many puzzles you can answer in five minutes."

Chalmin said the group was narrowed to 40 people and then groups of five or six played mock games of the show.

"Two weeks later my wife called me at school screaming that I had received a letter inviting me to a show taping," Chalmin said.

In November, Chalmin and his wife, Caryn, left their two daughters in Maryland as they flew across the country in hopes for him to win "big money" on his favorite game show.

Tuesday night, Chalmin said he had about two dozen friends over to his Bel Air home for a watch party.

"It was awesome," Chalmin said. "The most fun part of the entire experience was getting text messages, Facebook messages and phone calls from old friends from high school who were watching the show. Just the camaraderie that was developed was amazing."

Chalmin said he didn't blow his winnings. He is holding onto his prize money for a few months, so he can afford to send his youngest daughter to overnight camp.

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