February 4, 2011

Uncommon Interview with Tim Haaf

In the same week, Tim Haaf found out he was accepted to both the Booth School of Business and as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. A lifelong fan, Haaf’s October-taped episode appeared on national TV on January 27. The Maroon spoke with Haaf to discuss fishing for cash, visiting the local watering hole, and Vanna White.

Chicago Maroon: I heard you were you were more excited about getting on to Wheel of Fortune than being admitted to Booth.

Tim Haaf: Yes, I was. I found out about both in the same week. I was very excited to find out that I was going to be on the show. Well, maybe not, I would say equal. They were both very exciting times in my life. But this was way more random… It was more funny to tell people about.

CM: Why did you decide to apply to be on the show?

TH: Because I had left work to apply to business school, I had finished all of my applications, I was sitting around at home, and I had free time.

CM: Did you apply to other game shows?

TH: I applied to Jeopardy!... but I’m not as good at that.

CM: What do you like about Wheel of Fortune?

TH: It’s challenging and it’s with words. It’s kind of like a puzzle with words.

CM: The theme of your episode was “Gone Fishin’.” How did you fare?

TH: I was very disappointed with the theme. A lot of fishing related words. Fish, meals you can make with fish, things about fishing that I did not know the answer to. ...I finished dead last. I got really bitter watching it because I remembered how tough it was to lose. I really wanted to win and I was really close to winning. I knew the last puzzle, but I didn’t get a chance to solve it. During the last game, I realized what it was right after my turn and I had to wait for the next two people to go. The person before me figured it out right before I had a chance to. ...I solved one puzzle and got a free trip to St. Martin. …I have a year to take it. I honestly don’t know [how much money I won]. It was like $9,000 something.

CM: What were the other contestants like?

TH: Two mothers, women with children. They wanted to win so that they could provide for their family. I just wanted to win so I could go to the bar and pay for college debt.

CM: What was the most interesting part of being on Wheel?

TH: Probably backstage with Pat Sajak and Vanna White talking to the audience during the commercial. They’re very funny people. They were going around talking to the audience and making jokes. [Pat Sajak] wasn’t cracking jokes. He was making funny comments between takes.

CM: Did your family watch it?

TH: I had a lot of family watch it, where I’m from in central Pennsylvania, and extended family in New York. They were very excited for me to be on TV. I’m from a small town so it was a big deal for them. Everyone taped it and it was very happy. ...They were very happy that I got on TV and they said I looked good on TV. They didn’t care that I lost.

­—Jingwen Hu