Scott Kolbrenner of Encino, California, a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, donated his $145,000 in winnings to be split between two charities. Kolbrenner won approximately $45,000 in cash and prizes during the regular rounds of play, before correctly guessing the bonus puzzle and collecting the $100,000 Grand Prize. He pledged $72,500 each to Uplift Family Services at Hollygrove and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
Kolbrenner has worked with Uplift Family Services, one of the most comprehensive behavioral health treatment providers in California, for the last 20 years. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors and volunteers his time. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank sources and acquires food and other essential products to distribute to those experiencing food insecurity.
Kolbrenner has been watching Wheel of Fortune “his whole life” and watches religiously with his wife and kids. He was selected to be a contestant after applying with a video at WheelOfFortune.com and participating in a virtual audition. When asked he said the COVID-19 pandemic and current economic downturn is why he knew he wanted to help the community if he won. “It’s been a dark time,” Kolbrenner said. “When I went on the show, I was doing it for the fun of it, and I said to my wife … ‘If I do OK here, anything that I get, let’s give it to charity. We’re very fortunate. Let’s see if we can support some others who aren’t as fortunate as we are.”
He added “I got lucky that day and knew right away that I wanted to share my good fortune. So, I decided to contribute all of my winnings to Uplift Family Services and Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, whose services support thousands of families. The fun and memories from the day will stay with me forever, but the urgent need in our community cannot wait. My wife was the only person that knew what happened that night of the taping. It was complete and utter shock for everybody in our lives, and they were elated about it.”
Both organizations thanked Kobrenner for his generosity on Facebook. Uplift Family Services, which helps children and their families manage and recover from trauma and related challenges wrote “We are so honored and grateful that Scott chose to play for us while advocating for our agency’s Los Angeles-based Hollygrove programs!”
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank said in a Facebook post said “It takes the whole community to fight food insecurity and the critical work that we do is possible with the help of people like Scott Kolbrenner.”
Kolbrenner said that Hollywood, despite being known for its “glitz and glamor,” also has struggling communities that are underrepresented. “What I was hoping with the ‘Wheel’ is to shine a light on them,” Kolbrenner said. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank serves more than 300,000 people every month. They estimate one-quarter of the food they distribute goes to children, and roughly one-fifth to senior citizens in LA County.