How did he do it?
“It wasn’t that hard actually,” Wagle said. “It was really exciting to win but they told us the show wouldn’t air until November and we couldn’t tell anyone. The longer it went and as I got into the school year I just put it into the back of my mind.”
Once the show aired, everyone at school and in the community knew about it. Did they treat him differently?
“A lot of students and teachers have congratulated me,” Wagle responded. “In a couple of my classes they have even shown clips from the show.”
Sojas isn’t new to success. Last year he finished third in the National Geographic Bee. Did that experience help him this time?
“It was very different,” Wagle said. “At the National Geographic Bee I was on the stage with nine other contestants. This time it was just the show host (Chris Harrison) and me. At the Bee we were all competing against each other. This time it was the host asking questions for larger amounts of money. I was much more nervous with just the host and me.”
As he continued to answer questions accurately, Sojas reached the question for $250,000. He was relieved when it involved geography. Harrison gave Sojas four statements and asked him which one was correct. He accurately determined that Brazil is larger than Australia.
Ecstatic at being correct and content with his amazing winnings, Sojas declined to attempt the $500,000 question.
“I thought about it but if I didn’t answer correctly I would have lost $200,000,” Wagle explained. “That’s a lot of money. I still would have kept $50,000 but I thought it was better to stop there.”
What does he plan to do with his winnings?
“I really want to travel so this summer I want to go to Europe,” Wagle said. Of course he will take his family, too. Can you imagine being able to pay for a family trip to Europe before you can drive? Sojas just turned 15.
“I will save the rest for college,” added Wagle. He may not need it. By the time he graduates he will likely be able to go to the college of his choice with plenty of scholarships. He already earned a $10,000 college scholarship by finishing third in the National Geographic Bee.
Colleges are already aware of Wagle’s academic prowess. He scored well on his ACT in seventh grade through the Duke Talent Search. In fact, he has been receiving emails from the Duke Talent Search ever since. That’s how he discovered “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” was looking for young contestants.
“It was quite a process to get on the show,” Wagle said. “After I applied, my mom had to write an essay telling them what my qualifications were. Then they did an interview with me on Skype. After the interview they asked sample questions typical of what they would ask on the show. They wanted to see how I would react under pressure. They didn’t make any commitment then but later they contacted me and said I made it.
“They sent an itinerary for my family and me, then brought us to Las Vegas for the show. We were there for a week before I was on. The other students who were selected and I were in a room every day waiting to be called. We weren’t competing against each other so we got along fine. I met students from Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina and the West Coast states.
“Finally they called my name so I went into another room and waited an hour before the contestant before me was finished. I was pretty nervous while I was waiting. I was nervous on the show, too.”
He wasn’t nervous about keeping the secret, though. He never let it slip, maybe because he was so occupied with three Advanced Placement classes (Calculus BC, Biology and World History), being on the Har-Ber debate team and playing the violin. It was a pretty big secret. Now everyone knows. Congratulations, Sojas!