‘Wheel of Fortune’ features first special needs contestant

<i>This post has been corrected. See below for details.</i>

There have been many recent tales of “Wheel of Fortune” woe, including the unfortunate “Boozing my shore excursion” lady. And the weirdness of the lucky guess “New baby buggy” guy. But Wednesday, the show had its first inspirational contestant in quite awhile with Trent Girone.

The 21-year-old Peoria, Ariz., resident is a self-described “Wheel of Fortune” fanatic, but more important, he’s the first special needs contestant ever to compete on the show.

Girone has had nine brain surgeries and has both Asperger’s and Tourette’s syndromes, but that didn’t stop him from taking early control of the wheel by successfully guessing the first puzzle, “a smashing success.”


Girone ultimately didn’t win the game -- he hit the dreaded Bankrupt slot -- but he won viewer hearts. He became a Twitter trend with #TeamTrent that made his appearance into a viral sensation.

During his appearance, Girone, who says he’s been a “Wheel” fan since age 2, even avoided being stumped by host Pat Sajak when Sajak asked him to name a category that was no longer featured on the show. (Girone’s correct answer: Megaword.)

In a blog post Girone wrote for the “Wheel of Fortune” website, he wrote, " I love the show and wanted to be part of its history. I thought I would do a great job at solving puzzles.” He certainly studied up, even claiming to watch Saturday morning reruns of last season’s episodes. His episode was actually taped back in February.

[FOR THE RECORD May 1, 5:27 p.m.: A previous version of this post said Girone’s episode aired Tuesday, April 29. His episode aired Wednesday, April 30.]