Education

Wake County principal tries his luck on game show – and hopes to inspire students

Chris and Amanda Cox will appear on “Wheel of Fortune” on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Cox is principal at Stough Elementary School in Raleigh.
Chris and Amanda Cox will appear on “Wheel of Fortune” on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Cox is principal at Stough Elementary School in Raleigh.

If Stough Elementary School principal Chris Cox wins big when he and his wife appear on “Wheel of Fortune” this week, his daughter should probably get a cut.

Cox and his wife, Amanda, will appear on the game show Tuesday. (It’s Sweethearts Week on the show, so they got to compete together.) But Cox owes their appearance to Stella, their 7-year-old daughter.

Cox said “Wheel of Fortune” was “a staple” at his house when he was growing up. As he got older, he stopped watching – until his kids hit elementary school.

“We were drawn back,” he said. “(Stella) challenged me. She said, ‘Daddy, you’ve got to go on this show.’ 

Cox accepted the challenge, and he decided to apply as his family watched the show one night last summer.

“I did a little selfie video with my daughter, and I said, ‘Hey, Pat and Vanna!’ ” he said. “Next thing you know, we had an invite to an audition in Raleigh.”

Cox and his wife flew to Los Angeles in November to tape the show. They spent six hours on set, learning how to play the game, going through hair and makeup and meeting show hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White.

What did Cox learn? The wheel is heavier than you might think, he said, and Pat and Vanna don’t look like they’re 72 and 60, respectively.

“It was the fastest 20 minutes of your life,” he said. “It felt very surreal to be on the show.”

Cox hasn’t forgotten where he came from in his brush with fame: He gave his students and staff at Stough Elementary in Raleigh a shout out during the taping, hoping they’d be inspired by his appearance on the show.

“We’re really pushing literacy” at Stough, he said. “If this in any way supports their motivation to continue with letters and words and reading, then of course I want to encourage that.”

The Coxes have to stay mum about what (if anything) they won on the show, but that hasn’t stopped people from asking.

“My wife’s Facebook has blown up,” Cox said.

The show airs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on ABC.

Pressley Baird: 919-829-8935, @pressleybaird

  Comments