Credit: Courtesy of the Howard family
A Georgia Tech student wins on 'Wheel of Fortune.' He shares his secret to success
LISTEN: Georgia Tech sophomore Quincy Howard wins big on Wheel of Fortune. GPB's Leah Fleming interviews the Dublin native about the experience.
Dublin native and Georgia Tech sophomore Quincy Howard is still celebrating his recent win on the popular NBC weeknight game show Wheel of Fortune.
Howard was chosen to participate during the game show’s College Week series. He quickly solved puzzles like “Alphabetical order of French fries” before going into the bonus round with $35,000. He quickly solved his bonus round puzzle to win a brand new car along with some trips and cash.
Howard joined GPB Morning Edition host Leah Fleming in studio recently to talk about the win, the show and his strategy for success.
Quincy Howard: One day, I was watching the College Week episode and I just figured like, you know, "Let's give this a shot; I've been watching this for a really long time." ... And from there, I applied. And then in the summer, they reached back out to me, and I was like, "Wow. Like, they actually, you know, emailed me back." And then I had to do a virtual audition. So I did the virtual audition. And then about two weeks from there is when I got the call to be a contestant. And I was like kind of right around school time starting. And so I was like, "OK, I’ve got to make sure I'm practicing" and like, you know, ready to go. And then eventually I got there, and I just got to experience and talk to other college students, which is pretty fun. And then next thing you know, I was winning the car and solving puzzles.
Leah Fleming: Very cool. So as you and I were talking about a little bit ago, when you are actually doing it at home, you know, for those of us who are like fans of it, who enjoy it, we're watching along and we're solving the puzzle before the contestant does we think. It’s very different than being in the studio doing it, isn't it?
Quincy Howard: It definitely is. Just like the atmosphere itself puts you in a different mindset. Like I was saying, cue cards and just, like, seeing Pat Sajak get ready to make sure he's ... that everything goes well, and just seeing like the cameras, the lights, like all those things are a big influence. But as long as you keep your mind like on the puzzle board, it's not that big of a difference.
Leah Fleming: You are an industrial engineering student at Georgia Tech. And I'm wondering, did that help you at all as you were preparing for this?
Quincy Howard: Yes, I would say that also helped me. Just being a Georgia Tech student in general helped me knowing how to balance. And, you know, as far as from the actual industrial engineering standpoint, we work a lot with data and numbers. So I did like kind of do my research on like, you know, "What letters are the best to choose on the board?" and like even for like the bonus round and then knowing like little statistical facts like, you know, there's a 15% chance on the wheel that you can lose your turn and things like that. Like that kind of helped me to make decisions with the wheel and like just making sure I made good decisions calling my letters and then spinning.
Leah Fleming: So when you are calling your letters, you're not just winging it.
Quincy Howard: You get a feel.
Leah Fleming: Oh, OK. ... Because at home, you know, on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, you know, it's like, "Oh, I’d throw out this letter."
Quincy Howard: Yeah. They also give you, like a board, like on the side that you don't see on the screen. And that has like, the letters so you know what’s been called and what’s going on. So you can kind of use that for reference. And then just knowing the popular letters like R-S-T-L-N-E. ... And then just seeing the small parts of words and knowing like, okay, if this is a T and this is a three-letter word like that's probably D, and then you call it the H and then like just go from there and hope that you have more letters.
Leah Fleming: Oh, OK. OK. So there is a method to this.
Quincy Howard: That's kind of how I broke it down to myself. And I try to go from there. And I don’t think I called one wrong letter. So like that method really helped me in the end as far as just as not losing my turn.
Leah Fleming: For all the future contestants: Keep that strategy in mind. I like that. Did Georgia Tech have a watch party? Did they do watch parties?
Quincy Howard: Yes. So I did have one with my friends on campus. So, it was pretty cool to like, you know, see their reactions. I was basically like them because I also didn't know, like, you know, how my facial expressions looked and things like that even though I knew the outcome.
Leah Fleming: Oh, right, right. Because it was prerecorded in August and then, you know, the episode aired much later. And you knew what was going to happen. So did you have to sign an agreement that you wouldn’t talk about it?
Quincy Howard: Yes I did. The biggest thing is not spoiling it. So I did make sure, like, you know, because my sister was also there. My sister's like 13 years old, so I'm like, "Do not say anything!" and like my parents had to keep quiet, too.
Leah Fleming: Yeah, I can imagine your sister running around Dublin and your mother trying not to say anything! Is there anything that you are thinking about in terms of your future? Will you go on more game shows, perhaps?
Quincy Howard: I really love game shows, competition shows. So another one of my favorite shows is like a competition show called The Amazing Race.
Leah Fleming: Oh yeah.
Quincy Howard: And they go like around the world and travel, and they do more like scavenger hunt type things. I like things like that. That's like a really cool show to me. And then I don't know if I could do Jeopardy, but maybe if I practiced enough.
Leah Fleming: That's a whole another level!
Quincy Howard: Yeah. I might have to leave that one alone.
Leah Fleming: Oh, what an exciting time in your life.
Quincy Howard: Yes, very, very memorable moment.