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Lansing native to appear in Wheel of Fortune WWE Week

Ben Clark and Big E’s episode to air Wednesday, March 29

LANSING, Ill. (March 24, 2023) – Fans of the long-running game show Wheel of Fortune are well-versed in the program’s many theme weeks. One theme, brand new in the Wheel world, is WWE Week, which will make its debut March 27-31. Entering the ring for WWE Week are 12 wrestling superstars, and one WWE superfan: Ben Clark.

For Clark, wrestling has been a staple in his life since the time he was in kindergarten. “My dad and I used to watch matches together all the time. Whenever there was a show in Chicago, he’d always try to get us tickets,” Clark said.

Wrestling and Wheel of Fortune

Wheel of Fortune
Ben Clark, circa 6th grade, wearing his wrestling T-shirt. (Photo provided)

When Clark was in middle school, the world of professional wrestling “blew up,” and many of his friends quickly became fans. To this day, Clark and a group of longtime friends reunite once a year to attend the Royal Rumble, one of the WWE’s biggest annual events. Although now they all live in different parts of the United States (Clark grew up in Lansing but has since relocated to the Indianapolis area) Clark and his buddies have traveled all over the country for this celebration, including to St. Louis, Las Vegas, and, most recently, San Antonio.

Wrestling isn’t the only longstanding tradition for Clark. He also grew up watching Wheel of Fortune with his parents every night. “When I was a kid, we would take turns guessing letters and seeing if we could solve the puzzle. Growing up, I had the Wheel of Fortune video games and now I have the Wheel of Fortune app on my phone,” Clark said.

Wheel of Fortune
Ben Clark (far left) and friends gathered in San Antonio to attend WWE’s Royal Rumble event earlier this year. (Photo provided)

In what might be called a divine intervention from the wrestling gods, Clark, who had been considering auditioning for Wheel for years, tried out just in time to appear on WWE Week. The entire process was multifaceted and consisted of several different stages.

Getting on Wheel of Fortune

First, Clark sent in a one minute video introduction, in which he talked about why he would be a good contestant for the show, as well as some hobbies and other basic background information. A few weeks later, he received an email from a producer requesting a one-on-one Zoom meeting. Next, Clark was invited to join a Zoom session with other potential contestants where they played a mock puzzle round, similar to the show’s toss-up puzzles.

“It was me and two other people, and we literally had to have a pen [as a prop buzzer]. We’d have to ‘buzz in’ by hitting our pen and then yelling out the answer,” Clark said.

Clark then did practice rounds of solving a final puzzle, which he had to talk his way through solving. A week later, a producer contacted him and told him he’d be taping his episode on February 1, giving Clark just under two weeks to book a flight, make hotel accommodations, and request time off of work.

“I was trying to figure out how to get off work. That short notice is a little hard [to work with]! I had to tell my boss, ‘I would never just leave you guys in a lurch unless it was for a really good reason,’ and she was like, ‘Oh my God, is everything okay?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, actually, I’m going to be on Wheel of Fortune!’” Clark said.

During a final Zoom audition, a producer asked contestants if they were Disney fans or WWE fans; Clark was the only one to share his love of professional wrestling. It was only at that point did Clark suspect he would be a part of WWE Week.

Filming day

When the day of filming arrived, Clark and his fellow contestants were trained in game strategy along with official Wheel rules and guidelines. And, of course, they were introduced to their WWE superstar partners. Clark was delighted when he found out he would be partnered with Big E, one of his favorite wrestlers.

“They announced each wrestler one at a time and they all came out in full character, and then they announced who their partner would be. [Big E] came out and gave his speech and [the producer said,] ‘You’re partnered with Ben!’ and he came running down and we high fived,” Clark said. “From there, we got to chat with each other and planned everything out, like who will spin the wheel and who will call out letters.”

Other pro wrestlers competing in this year’s WWE Week include Xavier Woods, Austin Theory, and The Miz, along with Bayley and Liv Morgan, who competed side-by-side with Clark and Big E.

Clark said that since filming, he and the fellow contestants have stayed connected via social media. Some players are planning live viewing parties when their episodes air. Clark even got to spend the majority of the day with Big E and his fellow wrestlers.

“I kind of expected the wrestlers would stay in their trailer all day and just come out to do the show, but they hung out with [the contestants] the entire day. At first, we were all starstruck, but after a while, we were all just hanging out together. We were friends,” Clark said.

Special entrances

The duos even filmed wrestling-style interviews and promos with their partners and came up with tag-team names.

“Since it was wrestling week, [the producers] didn’t want just regular entrances where everyone is just standing there, so they had us film entrances with the wrestlers. Everybody took turns; they had pyro going off as we walked on set. All the wrestlers were doing poses with their partners. Big E said, ‘You should ride on my back, and I’ll carry you out there,’ and I said, ‘It’d be funnier if I carried you on my back,’ which [Big E] agreed was awesome. So in our big entrance, I’m carrying a 300 pound boulder of a human being and trying to look like I’m not struggling,” Clark said.

Viewing Clark’s Wheel of Fortune episode

Of course, Clark can’t reveal the final outcome of his episode, but he can say that he had an incredible time.

“Just meeting the other contestants and getting to share that with them … it was cool to bond over that experience,” Clark said.

WWE Week on Wheel of Fortune will be a week-long, tournament-style competition, beginning on Monday, March 27. The top winners of the week will compete for the grand prize during the tournament’s final game on Friday. Clark and Big E’s episode will air on Wednesday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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Katie Arvia
Katie Arvia
Katie is a lifelong Lansing native who currently works full-time in marketing while also freelance reporting for The Lansing Journal. In 2015, she graduated with high honors from Saint Xavier University in Chicago with a BA in English, and she plans to pursue a Master's degree in the near future. Her favorite Lansing Journal assignments include coverage of TF South High School's walkout ("Demonstrating the possibilities") and her St. Patrick's Day interview with her grandma ("St. Patrick's Day traditions: reflections of an Irish granddaughter").

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Katie! So proud of where I’m from! Will be bringing my daughter home for the Good Neighbor Day Parade!

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