‘Wheel of Fortune’ winner must split $51,600 with his ex

Vancouver man’s jackpot is community property, judge rules

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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Scott Dole might have won $51,600 on “Wheel of Fortune,” but the number dwindled to $25,800 on Wednesday, a judge decided.

Dole and his wife, Carrie, were embroiled in a highly contentious divorce battle over, in part, Dole’s winnings on the hit game show. The issue was whether the money was community property, and, therefore, should be subject to the state’s community property law mandating equal separation of assets, or whether it was just Scott Dole’s property.

The husband and wife went to trial Wednesday before Clark County Superior Court Judge James Rulli. Testimony took most of the day.

Rulli decided that even though Carrie Dole had filed for divorce well before the show, the couple were reconciled at the time of filming, so the winnings were community property.

“This property was acquired when he won the game show in October 2009. At that time, the parties were living together as husband and wife,” the judge said after the trial. “She flew with him and stayed with him at a hotel. The argument that it was a defunct marriage … is not the telling factor.”

Rulli’s decision splits the jackpot down the middle. The money, which has been in escrow since 2009, will be disbursed to Scott Dole and Carrie Dole in two weeks, once the paperwork is finalized, Rulli said.

Afterward, Scott Dole said he was expecting the decision on the money. “He split it 50-50. That’s what I figured he would do,” he said.

Scott Dole did say he tried to show at trial that his former wife was indebted to him because of a large monetary gift his late father gave the couple, which they had used to purchase a house.

Attempts to reach Carrie Dole Wednesday afternoon after the trial were unsuccessful.

Scott Dole was a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune” at the prompting of his wife (the segment aired as part of the show’s Pet Lovers week). While his wife had filed for divorce in September 2008, the couple were reconciled during the filming, Rulli said.

An excerpt of the segment shows the couple in an excited embrace following news of Scott Dole’s win.

Carrie Dole had testified at the trial that she contacted her attorney at the time, asking for the petition for divorce to be dismissed.

“You can see their intent was not to be separated,” Rulli said.

The next month, however, the couple separated, and Carrie Dole moved out and renewed her petition for dissolution. With the renewed petition came the request that the “Wheel of Fortune” winnings be placed into a trust pending the outcome of the divorce. The money, which is $46,988 after taxes, was then placed in escrow at a local bank.

Scott Dole said that he wants to give the money to charity; Carrie Dole, according to court papers, is living on a tight income as an elementary school teacher and would use it to help pay bills.