A bitter divorce battle wound up costing a Vancouver, Washington man – and recent “Wheel of Fortune” contestant – more than just a few vowels or a couple spins of the wheel.
It cost him half of his $51,600 in total prize winnings.
In 2008, Scott Dole and his wife, Carrie Dole, were encountering serious difficulties in their marriage and nearly divorced. However, the couple was able to mend their relationship, narrowly avoiding a dissolution of marriage.
The following year, the world famous television show “Wheel of Fortune” announced that casting calls were being held in the Pacific Northwest (i.e., Portland, Oregon). After receiving encouragement from Carrie, Scott signed up for an audition and ended up landing a place as a contestant.
However, when the couple traveled from Washington to California for the taping of the show in October 2009, they were not getting along and did not speak to one another until after Scott had won the $51,600 in prize winnings.
Roughly a month after the show, Carrie packed up her belongings and moved out of the home. She then sought a divorce.
In her divorce petition, Carrie specifically asked that Scott’s prize winnings on “Wheel of Fortune” – which amounted to $46,988 after taxes – be placed in escrow pending the outcome of their divorce trial.
The divorce trial
The trial, which was held last week, sought to answer one very important question: Should the “Wheel of Fortune” winnings be classified as community property or separate property?
(Washington, like Texas, is a community property state.)
- If the winnings were classified as community property, they would be split 50-50 between Carrie and Scott
- If the “Wheel of Fortune” winnings were classified as separate property, they would not be subject to division and owned entirely by Scott
Here, the judge determined that the winnings were considered community property. The reason? While the couple had experienced marital difficulties in the past, they had made amends and were living as a married couple at the time of the “Wheel of Fortune” appearance.
“This property was acquired when he won the game show in October 2009. At that time, the parties were living together as husband and wife,” said the judge “She flew with him and stayed with him at a hotel. The argument that it was a defunct marriage … is not the telling factor.”
Scott, while disappointed in the ruling, seemed unsurprised.
“He split it 50-50. That’s what I figured he would do,” he said.
Interestingly, he also indicated that he was planning to donate his share of the “Wheel of Fortune” winnings – $23,494 – to charity.
Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …
To learn more about dissolution of marriage or property division, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
‘Wheel of Fortune’ jackpot split 50-50 in divorce (The Seattle Times)