Alumnus Mike Mazzarella, who graduated in 2011, will be featured on tonight’s episode of Wheel of Fortune, on which he competed this summer. He was a Testudo at this university, which he said helped prepare him for the large crowd while taping the show.

There is a large zero written on the board in Mike Mazzarella’s classroom at Annandale High School, in Annandale, Va.

It’s the end of a countdown, and today is a big day — the day Mazzarella’s Wheel of Fortune episode airs.

The 2011 graduate of this university and former Testudo got the chance to live out his childhood dream this summer and try his hand at spinning the wheel.

“I’m used to being in front of large crowds, and I think Testudo is a large part of that,” Mazzarella said.

But that didn’t mean he wasn’t nervous during taping.

“You don’t get nervous at home sitting on your couch,” he said. “It’s very nerve-racking when you’re there and there’s actually thousands of dollars that you could possibly win.”

There are lots of things people don’t know about filming a game show. For example, Wheel of Fortune shoots an entire week of shows in one day and each episode only takes an hour to shoot. Contestants and their families are called into the studio at 7 a.m.

Mazzarella said the studio is surprisingly small — especially the puzzle board.

He had to read over and sign contracts saying he wouldn’t reveal the results of the show before it aired and that he wouldn’t cheat. Contestants were also briefed on the official show rules before filming.

“They put so much makeup on us, I must have had at least four layers of makeup on me,” he said.

The famous wheel itself was the biggest surprise of all. Contestants on the show make spinning it look easy, but it weighs more than two tons.

“I gave my full strength for a spin, and it went three-quarters of the way around,” Mazzarella said.

The behind-the-scenes look at the show didn’t disappoint his inner child. Rather, he said, it was intriguing to see what goes into production. It almost made it even more exciting.

“Just seeing him up there with a huge smile on his face was just awesome,” Nick Mazzarella said.

Even more excited than Mazzarella and his friends and family were Mazzarella’s algebra II students. Mazzarella has kept a countdown to the show’s airdate, and his students have been making guesses at how much money he won.

Even students at this university who haven’t met Mazzarella are curious about how the former Terp fared.

“I haven’t seen Wheel of Fortune in years,” sophomore biology major Natalie Flanagan said. “But it’s exciting that someone from our school is going to be on it.”

Mazzarella’s gotten guesses ranging from $0 to $1 million. So how much did he really win? He’s not at liberty to say, yet. He’s contractually obligated to keep his lips sealed until the episode airs tonight.

“All I can say is, you’ll have to watch the show,” he said.