When popular game show Wheel of Fortune came to Hawaii, Kalaheo natives Trinette Kaui and Audrey Bonilla were determined to get on it.
“We entered because we wanted to do it as best friends,” Bonilla said in a phone interview. “It was one of the bucket list things.”
The two former Kauai High School cheerleaders submitted their video application, went through “intense” auditions and made it to the show, which at the time was being taped at Kona, Bonilla said.
The original taping took place in September and the two did well for themselves, coming away with $10,350. Though it was recorded months in advance, the two were obligated under contract to not reveal results of the show.
When the episode aired on national television on Monday, they became more famous than they ever anticipated.
“Trinette called me (Tuesday morning) and said, ‘Did you know we’re going viral?’ I said, ‘What?’” Bonilla said, who now lives in Lihue. “It was all over MSN, YouTube, Good Morning America, CNN — just tons of websites. Some that I’ve never even heard of.”
Why did they become Internet famous? The same reason most viral videos do — hilarity.
The clue the contestants were trying to solve was “What are you doing?”
The contestants before the two Kauaians had their turn, got one letter on the board — an N — and guessed, “Riding a brown horse.”
They were wrong.
Bonilla and Kaui then got one more letter on the board when they asked for a G. After a brief discussion, Kaui guessed, “Riding a white horse.”
She, too, would be wrong. But the reaction to the similar guess would make them an instant Internet sensation.
Host Pat Sajak walked off stage momentarily as the contestants and audience members burst into laughter. Sajak then returned to the stage and with a puzzled look on his face yelled, “Who said anything about a horse?”
“I’d rather be embarrassed by saying the wrong answer rather than saying nothing and regretting that it could have been the right answer,” said Kaui, who now lives in Wailua. “We were just cracking up. We knew he (Sajak) was just joking.
“I didn’t take it personally at all. So when the whole thing took off, we were like, ‘What’s the big deal?’” she added.
The answer to the clue was “Seeing a buddy movie,” but Kaui said she feels “Riding a white horse” made more sense.
“I just took a stab at it. We had nothing to lose,” she said.
Videos of the moment have since gotten tens of thousands of views on YouTube. Bonilla and Kaui have been bombarded with texts and phone calls since the airing.
Despite a little embarrassment on the Internet, the two have taken it in stride and are glad they’ve done it together.
“It’s a bit embarrassing, but it’s more hilarious. Kauai people have been so supportive. They’ve been wonderful and they loved it,” Bonilla said. “Trinette and I said that if we were able to make some people smile, it was all worth it … We had so much fun and I wouldn’t have done this with anybody else.”
Bonilla believes they’ll receive their winnings in March, but that they don’t have any plans with the windfall yet, other than to enjoy it.
“My only hope is that Ellen Degeneres gets a hold of this and puts us on her show,” she added.