Ask Me Anything: Julian Batts

Student of Misfortune
Carmel native Julian Batts earned a dubious 15 minutes of fame in the spring by mispronouncing “Achilles” on Wheel of Fortune—after landing on the $1 million spot. But he recovered nicely, winning $11,700 and making the national-media rounds with a good attitude. This month,  he returns to college with his perspective intact and a cushy pizza fund.
Why didn’t you freak out over losing $1 million?
I didn’t lose the million; I lost the chance at it. In order to win the $1 million, you have to solve the puzzle, go the rest of the game without hitting bankrupt, win the game, then spin the bonus wheel, land on the million-dollar envelope—which is a one-in-24 chance—and solve the bonus puzzle. It’s only been done twice.
Ever heard of an Achilles heel?
I was not familiar with the spelling of “Achilles,” and it didn’t click. That’s what the disconnection was.
Has the media play affected you?  
Absolutely not. You can’t compare 30 minutes on national TV to how someone is in their normal life. That type of pressure, the lights, playing for all that real stuff—it’s not relatable. I feel that’s important to know.
How did you get on the show?  
I was doing homework when I got an e-mail from a casting coordinator asking me to audition in Terre Haute. At first I thought it was spam. The day of my audition was the first ice storm of the season. My mom and I talked about turning around, but I was like, Let’s just go. You never know what could happen.
Photo by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the August 2014 issue.