South Africa

Gugulethu chess champion makes ‘Wheel of Fortune’ history

Neil Horne who is from Gugulethu in Cape Town made local television history when he became the first contestant to win more than R100 000 on Wheel of Fortune South Africa.

The legendary game show has been on US screens since 1975, making its debut in South Africa on 8 April this year. During the show, three contestants spin a giant carnival wheel and solve word puzzles to win cash or other prizes.

We can’t help but wonder if Neil’s opponents, Ruben Smith, a High School Computer and Business teacher from Pretoria, and Tshiamo Tshabalala, a Political Science graduate from Brits knew that the chess champion has won several scrabble tournaments, including the prestigious Western Province Masters.

Neil’s impressive game skills and poker face even had radio personality, Anele Mdoda taking to X, formerly Twitter, on Monday evening after the show.

Despite winning such a huge amount of money, Neil showed very little emotion which started a whole thread on X about why he showed such little excitement about his lucky windfall.

“Wait this guy just won R100 000 and he didn’t even flinch. Like not a single celebration. Hawu,” Anele wrote on X after the show.

Fellow social media users flocked to the comments sections to give their two cents about Neil’s apparent lack of excitement at his big cash prize.

“It’s normal, some of us don’t celebrate our wins,” said Zemveli.

Sarel Roets said that some people are just used to it or they have struggled so long that when it success comes, there’s no more celebration left in them?

Many others said it could be shock that had Neil reacting the way he did, adding that perhaps he just needed some time to process it all.

There were also some lighter comments around Neil’s win with some commenting that it’s hard to get excited about money if you know it’s already spend before you’ve even received it.

Neil Horne on his big Wheel of Fortune South Africa win

The chess champion walked away with a total of R102 600 in winnings after having won R2 600 earlier in the game.

Commenting on his big win, Neil said: “Being on Wheel of Fortune South Africa was bundles of fun. I was also in awe of the aesthetics of the studio and set.” He attributes his Wheel of Fortune success to his scrabble prowess, knowing the permutations of letters to compose a word and “just being lucky”.

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