This Week's Contestant
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My wife Sarah and I have been watching Wheel of Fortune together since we met about 15 years ago. I've always considered myself a good player watching on television but I knew it would be much tougher playing in person. I had been submitting applications online to be on Wheel of Fortune for 4 to 5 years when I received an e-mail on June 14th of this year inviting me to an audition at a New York City hotel on June 24th. I actually considered not going at first, but I realized this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I had to do it. In the week leading up to the audition, I researched the audition process online so I would know exactly what to expect.
My wife and I each took the day off from work on June 24th and took a road trip from Massachusetts to NYC, which is about 4 hours. The audition started at 2:30 and went for about 3 hours; it consisted of multiple simulated games as well as a paper test with puzzles partially solved. The Wheel of Fortune Contestant Coordinators kept the audition fun and lively and it was a great experience. There were a couple rounds of cuts and I made the final cut. Although this did not guarantee me a spot on the show, I felt like I did a great job and was confident when I was leaving. The coordinators let us know that we would be contacted within a month if we were chosen to be on the show.
I didn't hear anything for the next couple weeks and on the night July 15th I tore multiple ligaments in my right knee for the second time. Following that, I went on vacation with family and friends to NH for a week to relax and unwind. Just when I thought there was no hope that I made the show, I got a call while on vacation from one of the Contestant Coordinators telling me that I made the show and asking if I could be in Los Angeles to tape on August 12th; the answer was obviously YES!!!
In the weeks leading up to the show, I practiced a lot. I continued to watch the show every night and played along as if I was on the show. I downloaded the Wheel of Fortune game from the website and played endless games. I always knew how important it was to buy vowels and I planned on employing that strategy. I began to notice how important it was to win the prize puzzle during the show as the cost of the trip was added to your money total. I formulated a strategy for what I would do in a host of different scenarios. When it was time to leave home to tape the show, I felt very confident that if I could stay away from "Bankrupt" and "Lose A Turn" on the wheel, I could do well.
Once again, my wife and I took the day off, we made plans to leave our 1 year old baby boy named Aiden with my two sisters and prepared to fly to Los Angeles on August 11th. August 11th came and we drove to the airport very excited to fly to LA and tape the show. We had a connecting flight through Washington DC so our flight out of Providence had to be on time. While waiting to board the plane, the announcement came over the intercom that our flight would be delayed for at least 4 hours due to mechanical issues and they were flying in a mechanic to fix the plane. Immediately we realized we would miss our connector in DC and scrambled to figure out other ways to get to LA, I had to catch the shuttle to the studio at 7:30 AM the following morning. After waiting for an hour and talking with the airline attendant to explain that I was heading to LA to be on Wheel of Fortune, he put us on standby for the next flight out to DC. Luckily we made the flight to DC and were able to make another standby flight to LA; it seemed that destiny was on our side. After a really uncomfortable cross country flight with a very sore knee, we arrived at the hotel at 1:00 AM and were asleep at 2:30 AM.
The following morning I arrived at the studio at about 8:00 AM on 4 hours sleep. My wife and I were scheduled to fly home on the red-eye that night at 10:30 PM, so it was sure to be a long day followed by a long night. I was wearing a bulky brace on my right knee under my pants and I knew it would be sore throughout the day. This trip would only be worth it if I did well on the show I thought. At the studio, I met the other contestants and realized Bevin, who will be on the Friday show, was from my audition in NYC as well. I met the other contestants that I would play with and they were both very nice. We were led into the studio where we were allowed to spin the wheel, see the puzzle board and get familiar with the surroundings, it was surreal. After working with the Contestant Coordinators preparing for most of the morning, it was time to tape the show, I was extremely nervous..... Watch me spin the Wheel on Thursday, July 14th, to see if my nerves had any affect on my outcome.