Fort Irwin employee, veteran wins big on game show

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BEAT SHAZAM: L-R: Contestants Kevin and Kristina in the “Beauty and the Beats!” episode of BEAT SHAZAM airing Monday, June 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — An Army veteran and National Training Center/Fort Irwin contractor and his wife won $71,000 on the Fox television show, Beat Shazam. Kevin Wheeler and Kristina battled it out against two other pairs when the show aired on June 3. Beat Shazam is an interactive game show where three teams hear snippets of songs and try to name the titles for a chance to win up to $1 million. It’s hosted by comedian, singer/actor and entertainer, Jamie Foxx.

Wheeler said his journey to get on the show wasn’t short nor easy.

“My wife saw that there was an audition for the Beat Shazam show and applied online, which lead to interviews and some game play,” Wheeler said. If you do well with that initial screening, potential contestants get the opportunity to speak with producers, who will approve or dismiss those for the show.

Once Wheeler and his wife got the thumbs up to be on the show, they filmed in January 2019, three months after they had initially auditioned. The preparation part began but cram sessions weren’t necessary for this couple.

“We are music people, meaning that we associate everything to music, no matter what it is,” Wheeler said. “Our process was to listen to the top songs from the 60’s to the present, using different music apps on our phone.”

Wheeler even used his van pool rides to and from work (at The Operations Building 990) to study for the game show.

“When in my carpool, I told the driver to play whatever they wanted and I would try to guess the songs and use my Sound Hound app for those songs I didn’t know and randomly play them at a later time,” he said. Wheeler’s fellow vanpool buddies had no clue he was going to be on a game show.

Wheeler said once they got to the taping of the show, it was pure excitement. The taping lasted about three hours and Wheeler said his big personality kept host, Jamie Foxx, laughing and just as entertained as Foxx kept the contestants and the audience.

“Jamie is exactly like you would think he is-funny all the time!” Wheeler said. “Our interactions with him and Corinne (Foxx’s daughter who DJs on the show) were great and genuine. They were extremely friendly and funny.”

Foxx talked about Wheeler’s excitement on the show.

“You’ve got a lot of energy man, what’s going on?” host Jamie Foxx said.

“I always have energy, I gotta have it,” Wheeler said.

The show taping lasted about three hours but the actual show is only one hour, including commercials, so several parts had to be cut.

“There were some dancing portions that weren’t included and I believe it was because of time, but we had a blast dancing,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler got to talk about his military background and how the couple met, although only some parts of it aired. He is retired after serving in the Army for 25 years as a 19D (Cavalry Scout). He admits he and his wife were nervous but calmed down a bit once they walked on set. He also has a background in music.

“I was a local DJ in my hometown for three years prior to entering the service, in which I did school dances, house parties and some radio mixes for local stations in the mid-1980’s, consisting of all genres of music,” Wheeler said. He and his wife had also been watching the show since it first started airing in 2017.

Foxx asked the couple how music brought them closer together and Kristina talked about their first date.

“We went to the movies and in the movie, there was a particular song by Brian McKnight,” Kristina said. “We fell in love with the song instantaneously and we left the movie theater, went straight to the store and bought the CD.”

That first date, led to 11 years of marriage, four children and a happily-ever after in Hesperia, California.

When it was all said and done on the show, Wheeler and his wife were sitting in first place with $71,000 and a chance to increase their earnings. They had to make a decision on whether or not to take their current earnings, take a chance and win $142,000 if they got the next correct response, or take a chance and lose half of their earnings if they got the wrong response. They chose to quit, keep their winnings and stick with the $71,000 and, of course, once the next song was played, they knew the name of it immediately and found out they could have won at least $142,000.

The entire experience is something the couple will never forget.

“We did not expect anything going into the show except to have a great time and a new experience,” Wheeler said. “There was no discussion as to what we would do or how far we would get at all. It was a no brainer, I was all in.