ALTON — Fans of Riverbend “Wheel of Fortune” contestant Robert Doyle filled Regal Beagle’s indoor bar area as they watched him win money Friday on multiple televisions tuned to the game show at the sports bar and grill.
Doyle’s prizes finally were revealed since he traveled to California to tape the episode in March, which aired at 6:30 p.m. Friday on St. Louis’ KSDK-TV Channel 5. Doyle held a standing-room-only watch party at Regal Beagle, which was filled with friends and family, namely his mother who traveled with him when he did the taping.
Doyle, 31, of Alton, won $10,900 and plans to donate some of his money to Alton’ historic Milton Schoolhouse renovation project. One of the two owners attended the party, Meredith Elliott, who owns and lives in the schoolhouse with her husband, Joel. When Doyle told Meredith that he was donating some money to her project tears sprung to her eyes.
“Robert is a huge supporter of the schoolhouse and always comes to our open houses. He’s so sweet. His spirit inspires me to keep building this community,” Elliott said to The Telegraph during the watch party.
The Milton Schoolhouse has spaces for small, start-up businesses, of which approximately 10 are occupied now, mostly women-owned businesses that for the first time are located somewhere other than private homes, Elliott explained.
A Milton School coffeehouse is to open in about three weeks, she said.
“Robert’s a huge supporter of all these small businesses, so we had to come when he invited us,” said Elliott, who attended with a mutual friend of her and Doyle’s, Jason Armstead, also of Alton.
Doyle auditioned last June when the Wheel Mobile rolled into St. Louis at the River City Casino offering open auditions. He made the final cut after a second audition in October. About 3,000 people initially auditioned.
The watch party was the first time Doyle had to reflect on the actual taping that he said seemed like a blur until he watched the episode.
“It was surreal, very surreal,” the 2001 Alton High School graduate said about watching himself on television. “To this day, I still have a hard time believing it happened. It was the experience of a lifetime. I’m so thankful.”
Doyle plans to pay some bills and go on a trip to Las Vegas with his mother in March with the rest of his winnings.
Jill Moon can be reached at (618) 208-6448 and Twitter @jill_moon.