Julie Santana, who now lives in Southern California, has been married to her husband, Sam, for 23 years and is a mother of two, according to a Wheel of Fortune press release.
Julie is a 6th grade math teacher who also runs two academic clubs, 'Dream Big,' which provides African American students with a support and mentorship program from middle school through high school; and the GSA club called 'Owl Pride,' which aims to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ students.
Julie said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the academic clubs to holding virtual meetings.
“It’s been a strange year of teaching middle school from my house…but it’s been a year for me to appreciate the strength, resilience, caring and creativity of the 10- to 12-year-old kids I work with daily," she said.
Julie, a lifelong Washington Capitals fan who said she once sat behind Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak at a Caps game, said she grew up watching the gameshow with her parents and continues to do so with her husband and children at home.
Julie said her goal was always to one day compete and finally decided to apply at WheelOfFortune.com. She was later invited to participate in a virtual audition and selected to be a contestant.
“I loved the audition! I felt like I had already achieved my goal of playing the real Wheel of Fortune," she said.
Julie said she plans to put her cash winnings toward her children's college tuition and fund some college visits for her 'Dream Big' club members.
You can watch Julie's appearance next week on WJLA (ABC 7) at 7:00 p.m. next week. Wheel of Fortune will celebrate moms during 'Mother's Day' week from May 3-7, 2021.
Photo: © 2021 Quadra Productions, Inc., photographer Carol Kaelson. All rights reserved.