Methuen UMass Student Wins $52K, Hawaii Trip on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Methuen’s Mansour Chaya appeared on “Wheel of Fortune” on Thursday, April 5. (Courtesy photograph)

Second time’s the charm in the Chaya household. Nine years after Methuen’s George Chaya appeared on “Wheel of Fortune,” his 21-year-old son Mansour had his own chance to shine on last Thursday’s show.

The UMass political science major tells WHAV his parents auditioned nine years ago, and once he turned 18, he submitted an application of his own. Show producers invited him to a regional audition last year at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, and Chaya taped his “College Week” appearance in Los Angeles in February.

His family always predicted he’d get a chance to spin the wheel.

“We’d all watch ‘Wheel of Fortune’ at 7 p.m. in the living room. Naturally, I’d be able to do pretty well answering from my living room, and my family would joke ‘Oh, Mansour, you should go on the show when you turn 18,’” “My turn came, and let me tell you, answering (puzzles) from the living room is a lot easier than answering them on the show!”

Joined by his father in the audience, Chaya kept the outcome of the show a secret from the rest of his family. On Thursday night, 40 family members and friends gathered in his living room for the big reveal.

Trailing behind other contestants, Chaya picked up steam as the show went on. He correctly solved the puzzle “Movie Night” during the bonus round, winning $52,000 in cash and prizes, including a trip for two to Hawaii.

He was happy to keep the secret so he could watch his family’s reaction.

“The show started off a bit rocky for me and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, he’s already down $12,000,’ and I had to just say ‘OK, guys—don’t worry,’” he told WHAV. “Seeing my family’s reaction was an unreal experience.”

Chaya will graduate from UMass in December and plans to put his prize money toward law school.