Big wheel

Published 10:33 am Saturday, January 9, 2010

The buzz has definitely been in the air since Bernard T. Artis, former resident of Newsoms, competed and won on the nationally-known game show Wheel of Fortune.

Having tried out for the show twice in Austin, Texas, in 2007 and not made it, Artis auditioned again in Houston in February, and six weeks later he was notified that he had been chosen to compete on the Wheel of Fortune show in Culver City, Calif. Artis competed and taped a Christmas special that aired on Dec. 22.

On the show, Artis, now a resident of Texas, proudly announced that he was a native of Virginia and Southampton County, “putting Virginia and Southampton County on the map,” as one Virginia friend said.

Artis and his wife, Felecia, told some friends that they were going to L.A. for a short trip, but they kept the details mostly to themselves until just before the show aired, so it was a huge surprise for everyone. Artis became a household name — at least for a day — after friends and family members quickly began sharing the exciting news by calling, texting, e-mailing and telling their friends, family members, coworkers, church members, and even strangers in stores, restaurants and doctors’ offices while tuning into the show no matter where they were.

The couple received hundreds of messages from the East Coast to the West Coast and many states in between. Someone from Mali, West Africa, contacted them to say that he’d watched, too! Many mentioned that while Bernard was having his Wheel of Fortune party in Texas, they were having a Wheel of Fortune watch party at their homes in Virginia and across the country.

On the show that night, Bernard experienced a roller coaster of a ride as he spun the big wheel. At the start of the show, Bernard landed on Bankrupt a few times, even after racking up nearly $19,000. The disappointment was evident, but the favor was on his side as he solved the puzzle “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen” to win more than $16,000 for that round! He later solved the third speed round with “Memorable Moments,” which was enough to win an additional $3,000 and become the top winner of the show that night.

Artis’ wife, Felecia, was also shown and got to say hello before he spun the wheel in the bonus round with Pat Sajak and Vanna White.

Unfortunately, Artis didn’t solve that puzzle for an additional $25,000, but after the roller coaster of a night, he happily walked away with $19,450.

“It was truly an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for which he is eternally humbled and grateful,” Felecia Artis said.

When asked what he plans to do with the money, Artis said, “Well, first of all, I have to wait several months to get the money, but California is going to take their taxes out first, then I will pay my tithes and offerings to my church — Calvary Community Church in Hampton — take my family on a mini-vacation, pay off a few bills to help reach my goal of becoming debt-free some day, put a little aside for a rainy day, and see how God tells me to use anything that is left.”

The couple had already discussed how they would use any proceeds he won, so they were really hoping to win a lot more so that they could do more for others. Even though they didn’t win as much as they wanted, they are still reaching out and helping, namely through their ministry/business called GCB etc that they co-founded this year.

GCB etc (Generational Cursebreakers Empowerment, Teaching & Consulting) is an outreach program where Bernard and Felecia encourage, empower and teach basic life skills and success principles on topics such as money management, marriage/family, holistic health/wellness and discovering one’s God-given purpose.

Many of the empowerment sessions and consultations are offered online and by phone; however, Bernard and Felecia also hold onsite workshops and speaking engagements for various schools, churches, groups and organizations.

As for Wheel of Fortune, Artis said his “big moment” was worth the wait.

“Two years was a long time to wait, but it was worth it, and I know it was all in God’s timing,” he said.