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KAXE staffer wins big on 'Wheel of Fortune'

A smiling couple stand in front of the wheel on "Wheel of Fortune."
Carol Kaelson/Photographer
Ashley and Chris Walker appeared on "Wheel of Fortune" on Feb. 12, 2024, during "Sweethearts Week."

KAXE's Development Director Chris Walker and his wife Ashley Walker recently appeared on Wheel of Fortune’s "Sweethearts Week." Sworn to secrecy on their winnings, the Northern Minnesota couple taped the show in January of 2024.

GRAND RAPIDS — Sometimes you just have to say yes.

That’s advice from Ashley Walker, wife of KAXE Development Director Chris Walker. The couple were recent contestants on Sweethearts Week on Wheel of Fortune.

“Ashley and I, just — we are addicted to fun and we always want to seek out adventures,” Chris said in a recent KAXE Morning Show conversation.

"I've just always said yes to everything. And when you say yes to life, good things happen."
Ashley Walker

Turns out, Wheel of Fortune is a family tradition for the Walkers.

“When I was a kid, I watched Wheel of Fortune with my parents and my mom especially, Ashley said. "And I think one of my earliest childhood memories was my mom solving a Wheel of Fortune puzzle with zero letters turned over. I was freaked out by my mom, because I was like, 'She’s a psychic!'”

Now as parents, they bend the hard and fast rule of no television at dinnertime to watch the beloved game show. Their daughters love it, too.

Every show ends with a call to try out to be a contestant, and Ashley suggested Chris should apply.

So he did. Chris went through the steps of a questionnaire and creating a video for the show, but did not hear back.

Until last October. While grocery shopping, he saw an email come in inviting him to be a contestant, but not as a solo contestant. They were interested in Chris and Ashley for Sweethearts Week.

“It’s probably because I said I have a super spunky wife,” Chris said.

After more virtual auditions, they were one of the lucky couples who made it to the big show.

People watch a large TV with a couple on "Wheel of Fortune" in a darkened room.
Maria Hileman
Friends gathered to watch Ashley and Chris Walker on "Wheel of Fortune" on Feb. 12, 2024 at Sugar Lake Lodge near Grand Rapids.

The big show

Chris and Ashley said they had no idea what to expect from a trip to Hollywood. “What are the people going to be like? Are they going to be nice? Standoff-ish?” Turns out Minnesota Nice holds up in California as well.

“Everybody behind the scenes was wonderful and welcoming,” Ashley said.

The preparation for the show was surprising to the Walkers. They had to be at the studio by 6 a.m. and didn’t start taping the show until noon. During commercial breaks, the crew touched up makeup, provided water, and reminded the contestants of what was to come.

“They want you to win money, so they’re assisting you,” she said.

And win they did. All told, before taxes, the Walkers left the Wheel of Fortune set with $65,900, despite spinning bankrupt three times on the board.

The Walkers had a plan going in. Ashley had her arm linked with Chris so that she could squeeze when she knew an answer. “You’ll notice on the triple toss up,” Chris said, “Ashley squeezed pretty hard because she knew what it was.”

The Walkers had practiced at home in front of the television so that they were clear about their communication during the competition.

The final moment of the show was perfect for the couple. “Bundling up” was the answer, and Chris shouted it, prefaced by “We’re from Minnesota!”

Chris & Ashley Bonus Round | Wheel of Fortune

Wheel watch party

When the Walkers' episode aired, Tim and Abby Oxborough, their friends from Sugar Lake Lodge, threw a red-carpet watch party with friends and families, including excited kids.

“Our girls got very excited we won,” said Chris, but noted they were also thrilled to be part of the night with a whole bunch of kids.

The Oxboroughs accompanied the Walkers to California, so they, too, had to keep the secret of the game show’s outcome.

“They know how to throw a party,” said Chris, describing photo opportunities with Pat and Vanna cutouts, a big screen projector, balloons, and food and drinks.

“Abby is the main party planner out there,” Chris said. “She does an incredible job.”

Gulping Life

Hollywood and winning prize money is great, but Chris and Ashley won’t let this be their last adventure. They are always looking for fun. Chris described a meaningful quote from a former boss that has stuck with him and describes their outlook on life. “Life should be gulped, not sipped.”

Whether it's mystery trips or buying a vowel, "Crashley" set a good example for enjoying every single moment in life.

Do you like game shows?

Would you like to be a contestant on a game show? Which one? Email us.

Listen to KAXE Morning Show above. And hear our FULL conversation here:

Full Wheel of Fortune conversation with Chris and Ashley Walker.

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