Quadra Productions, Inc./Carol Kaelson

Alena Reed '22 prepares to compete on the national game show Wheel of Fortune.

April 13, 2021

Junior Cornellian to Spin the Wheel of Fortune on National Television

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On April 16, Alena Reed ’22 will take to the small screen as a contestant on the long-running American game show, Wheel of Fortune.

Facing off against students from the University of Southern California and California State University, Fullerton, Reed will feature as part of a U.S. themed week, America’s Game. Her episode will air at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Reed, a fiber science and apparel design student in the College of Human Ecology, transferred to Cornell in the fall of 2019. She is the founder of Yellow of the Sun, a boutique working to develop comfortable clothing that brightens people’s days.  

Attending Cornell from her home in California, Reed looked for something exciting to do while continuing virtual school. Fortunately, Wheel of Fortune films at Sony Studios, just a 30-minute drive from her home.

“Being at home and doing online classes has not been the ideal situation,” Reed said, “so it meant everything to me to have the opportunity to do something so crazy and so cool that not a lot of people have the chance to do.”

Her friend Raheel Yanful ’21 similarly expressed his shock that one of his close friends will be on national television, but said he could not be more excited that Reed has this opportunity.

Reed grew up watching game shows with her mother, often playing the games from home alongside the contestants. Her mother always encouraged her to compete, so when she saw the open application this semester, she readily applied.

And she will not approach the game show unprepared — Reed spent many long hours practicing for her TV debut. She downloaded the Wheel of Fortune app on her phone, binge-watched prior episodes and practiced shouting out letters in her mirror to ensure she would be loud enough for the show.

Reed expressed that she couldn’t be involved in Wheel of Fortune at a more perfect time.

If she wins, she plans to use the money to pay off her student loans. But winning isn’t Reed’s main goal — she primarily wants to have fun.

Among her Cornell supporters excited to cheer her on from Ithaca is Sydney Gates ’22, who said Reed was deserving of this opportunity.

“I can definitely see her being there on Wheel of Fortune. I feel like she has the personality for it, and she will definitely liven it up,” Gates said. “She’s so nice and always has a smile on her face.”

Even though Yanful called himself more reserved than Reed, he recalled meeting her for the first time: “She was a very outgoing person, and that made me feel very comfortable.”

Those close to Reed will be sure to turn in on Friday. “I don’t even watch TV,” Yanful said. “But I’ll have to find a way to watch this.”