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Ryan Levine will appear on Wheel of Fortune on Wednesday, April 13. He is pictured with his wife, Samantha Levine, who encouraged him to try out for the show.

Hastings man to appear on Wheel of Fortune on April 13

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Hastings Star Gazette
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Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

Hastings resident Ryan Levine can't say how well he fared, but he promises one thing: Those who tune in to watch Wednesday's Wheel of Fortune show won't be disappointed.

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Levine was in California in January for a taping of the show, and his time in the spotlight finally arrives Wednesday, April 13. The show airs at 6:30 p.m. on WCCO (Channel 4).

The Hastings man has his wife to thank for the big appearance. At nights, Samantha would look on in awe as her husband solved puzzle after puzzle. When her father and her husband got to together, it was even worse, with the competition heating up between the two.

As Samantha watched the two, she took matters into her own hands, and signed up for the Wheelmobile's mailing list. The Wheelmobile travels the country looking for contestants, and producers keep the public in the know regarding their schedule. Early one week, Samantha Levine got the news she had been hoping for. Auditions were coming to Hinckley. She told Ryan he was going, and that was it.

He arrived that week, along with about 2,000 other hopefuls. He was randomly selected, had his photograph taken and gave producers more information on himself.

A month later, Levine got good news: he was selected to come to the Minnesota finals, planned for a hotel in Minneapolis. Levine didn't have the exact number of finalists, but he knew there were two days of finals and there were 200 finalists on his day alone. Producers quizzed him, asked more questions and he made it through to a test round with four others. He excelled and drew the praise of his fellow contestants.

That's when he really started thinking he had a chance to make the show.

"That round went really well for me," he said. "The rest of the girls and the guys around me were saying 'You are going through.'

"Things went well. On the way home, I was calling anyone and everyone."

Three weeks later, he got a phone call, telling him he was selected to appear on a show.

All this was music to his wife's ears. She knew he'd excel on the show.

"When we are at my in-law's house, or if we're just at home and it's on, I have the knack to solve the puzzle pretty quickly," Levine said. "Every time I did it, my wife would always turn to me and say 'That's it. You have to do it.'

"When she got the alert that the Wheelmobile was going to be in Hinckley, she said 'You have to go.' I didn't really have a choice."

The taping

Levine, Samantha, Samantha's parents Doug and Jean Levine and aunt Sharon Braun all went to California in January for the taping, which was Jan. 28.

The taping gave the Levines a unique opportunity to share some exciting news with their family.

Ryan and Samantha had two daughters prior to the trip and with each one, they came up with creative ways to share the exciting news with their families. What their families didn't know regarding the trip is that the two were expecting again.

When Pat Sajak asked each contestant to share some information on themselves, Levine took the opportunity to tell his family in attendance that a third child was on the way.

"That was fun," Levine said. "That was a very good surprise for them. That made it even that much more special."

A total of six shows were taped on Jan. 28.

Levine got to the studio at 7:30 a.m. A number of legal issues were covered, rules were outlined, the contestants had their makeup done and about five hours later, guests started coming through the doors for the taping to begin. The taping for the first show began at 12:30 p.m. Levine's show was the third show of the day.

When it was his turn, Levine was impressed with how everything ran.

"Vanna (White) and Pat Sajak were the kindest people," he said. "They were absolutely just gracious and welcoming, and as witty as could be."

One thing Levine didn't expect to see when he looked down at the arrow that catches the pegs on the wheel was a rubber band.

"It's not as technical as you'd expect it to be," he said.

Since the taping, Levine has liked the show even more.

"It's a completely different perspective once you've been there and you know the layout and you know what everybody is doing," he said.

Levine was born and raised in Indiana. He graduated from Purdue University, moved to Wisconsin and later settled in the Twin Cities, where he met his wife.

Levine is employed by the Shane Company, a jewelry store in Woodbury, as a sales person.

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Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
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