Best Friends Find ‘Fortune’ Fun

Best friends for 35 years and former Kauai High School cheerleaders Trinette Kaui and Audrey Bonilla on the set of 'Wheel of Fortune' in Kona. Photo courtesy Carol Kaelson

Best friends for 35 years and former Kauai High School cheerleaders Trinette Kaui and Audrey Bonilla on the set of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ in Kona.
Photo courtesy Carol Kaelson

Two former Kauai High School cheerleaders are “wheeling” over their tiny “fortune” after appearing on national television two Mondays ago.

In mid-September, Trinette Kaui and Audrey Bonilla were torn between joining their classmates at their alma mater’s 100th anniversary dinner or appearing with Pat Sajak and Vanna White on America’s top-rated game show, Wheel of Fortune. The two puzzle buffs chose instantly to follow their passion.

“We’re both competitive and we spend our nights watching games shows, so after years of seeing people spin the wheel, we wanted to add this experience to our bucket list,” explains Audrey. Trinette adds, “We knew that the Kauai High centennial celebration was very important to us, but we also felt that the Wheel of Fortune opportunity was once in a lifetime.”

Just to give you a history of the BFFs, their friendship stems from their hanabata days in the small town of Kalaheo on the southern coast of the Garden Isle. It was during their teen years that their friendship was deeply rooted, when Audrey was a senior and Trinette a junior in high school. They chanted to their hearts’ content on Kauai High’s cheerleading squad, which literally paid off 35 years later. They were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings, and were two peas in a pod. But who would have guessed that someday they would be two local gals in eye-blindingly bright Mamo dresses on Wheel of Fortune? Their revised cheer won them a spot on their favorite game show.

“Our audition cheer was: ‘IMUA, I-I, M-M, U-U, AA, WHEEL, IMUA!’ and the producers ate it up,” says Audrey.

The Kauai residents and their families flew to Hawaii island to film at Waikoloa Beach Resort in Kona. After watching the show for more than 20 years, the self-proclaimed “dynamic quiz duos” realized that the wheel was difficult to spin and maneuver. Because Trinette, who stands 4-feet-11-and-a-half-inches tall, is a half-inch taller than Audrey, the team decided Trinette would have the challenging task of spinning that gigantic wheel.

“It weighed one ton and not the kind you eat. Speaking of weight, it is true that television adds 10 pounds on any person. We were hoping we didn’t look bigger in our muumuus than our actual size because Vanna sure looked great,” jokes Trinette.

On Nov. 10, the night the show was nationally televised, Audrey’s classmates (KHS Class of 1979) threw a “Big Wheel” party at Hookipa Cafe at Puakea Golf Course in Lihue. More than 100 friends, family and classmates turned out for the lavish Hollywood-like bash.

“It was unreal! They had a Hollywood sign, bright lights with an enlarged photo of Audrey and me. They made us feel like movie actresses,” says Trinette.

When the Wheel of Fortune local stars solved the first puzzle of the night, their fans screamed from the top of their lungs.

“We solved the puzzle and it was ‘TERRIFIC TALENTED TWO-SOME.’ At that moment, as we watched ourselves on the big screen, we felt just like what the phrase spelled out,” chuckles Audrey.

The wheel was in their favor at that stage of the game, as they raked in $8,350. It was a strong start for the former KHS homecoming queen and her best gal pal partner in games.

“The best friends who buzzed in first during the toss-up round gave the wrong answer, so we buzzed in right away and solved ‘natural habitat.’ We won another $2,000, bringing our total to $10,350,” explains Trinette.

The crowd was jumping sky high, everyone giving each other high fives. They were having the time of their lives and appeared more excited than Trinette and Audrey.

Trinette took a stab at the final phrase and suggested “RIDING A WHITE HORSE.” Her answer has now gone viral. ( Although Trinette’s guess was reasonable, Pat Sajak made his dramatic breaking point, exiting the spotlight, looking frustrated, then coming back on set after the audience broke out in loud laughter.

“If you Google what I said, it’s all over the Internet, and it still cracks us up,” laughs Trinette. The correct answer was, “SEEING A BUDDY MOVIE.”

Although the duo never made it to the bonus round, they believe no one has ever celebrated a loss the way their fans did during their Wheel of Fortune premiere party. Trinette’s husband Wes and his band played late into the night while everyone danced the evening away. Perhaps their great-grandchildren will see for themselves someday through viral posts or reruns “the pain of bellyaches” their best-friend grandmothers endured laughing uncontrollably on the Wheel of Fortune.

Though their heads are still spinning over their winnings, Trinette and Audrey have discovered that their true fortune is really their friendship bound to last a lifetime and beyond what any game show could ever solve. What’s next? They split their winnings down the middle, plan to pay their taxes, and the leftover funds will be splurged on riding a white horse in Hanalei with their husbands, who will be their knights in shining armor . That sure beats seeing a buddy movie.