This Week's Contestant
Wow, I still can't believe that I accomplished one of my biggest goals -to be a contestant on my favorite game show the Wheel of Fortune!
I watch it at home with my family pretty regularly. A few years ago in an effort to get my children to watch (Danny, my son was 11 and my daughter, Ashley, was 8) I told them that if they ever solved a puzzle when we watched the show togetherthat they wouldn't have to go to school the next day. Well, Ashley really got excited about the prospect of beating Dad and getting a day off of school. About a year and a half into our bet, she beat me! She was jumping up and down all excited andasked me 'Dad, so I don't have to go to school tomorrow? ' I said that while it was 'OK' with me if she didn't go to schoolshe still had to clear it with her mother. Shetold my wife, Pam, that she solved a puzzle before I did and that I said she didn't have to go to school the next day. Well Pam would have none of that so I told Ashley to go to bed and we'd talk in the morning. In the morning she came up to me and said 'Dad, so can I stay home today? ' I talked with Pam and told her that Ashley is a straight A student and she did beat me fair and square. Pam gave in but said if Ashley was staying home that she'd have to help with the dishes, laundry and cleaning. I said "No, it's a day off; she should be able to camp out in her pajamas on the couch and watch cartoons." Pam reluctantly agreed but said it was a one time deal. Well now Ashley has to solve two puzzles in a row before me in order to get another day off of school.
My kids have told me over the years that I should be a contestant. I told them that if the Wheelmobile ever came to Minneapolis (3 1/2 hours away) or closer that I'd go audition but even then it would be a long shot. I could hardly believe it when I found out the Wheelmobile was going to be in Fargo right down the street from where I lived, 10 minutes away. The Wheelmobile was here on the weekend of June 26th and 27th and although I'm usually busy every weekend over the summer I sacrificed a summers weekend (in Fargo!) to be at the auditions both days. Well the first day I didn't get drawn to go up. On Sunday they had three sessions again and there were 1,000's of people auditioning. The last session started at 3pm and was over at 4pm. At 3:30 I figured that I did what I could do and while it looked like I had wasted a weekend at least I had tried. Five minutes later they called my name!
Well, I had almost two days of watching other people audition and had a little shtick worked out. When "Travel Size Pat Sajak" asked me to tell a little about myself I told him that I had been in a few plays with the Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre and that I had just signed a major motion picture contract with Sony Pictures. He asked me to tell him a little more about it and I told him the deal was if I buy 5 Blu-rays I get 3 FREE! Then I said I liked to sing karaoke in my free time and got the crowd singing along to a little of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline. Then I got to play the game a little and actually did a good job.
Six weeks later I received an email stating that I had been selected for a final audition in Fargo. There were around 80 of us invited to the audition. I felt I did a decent job and after the test they narrowed it down to about 25. I was so happy to have made the final cut!! We auditioned (playing the game) about another hour then they said 'Thank you and if you're selected you'll receive a letter by mail in the next 2 to 3 weeks. Then right as we were getting ready to leave they said that they had a cancellation for the very next Fridays taping in L.A. and they might call someone from Fargo that night. They wanted to know that if any of us couldn't make it on that short of a notice to let them know. Well, about 5 people raised their hands and said they had a wedding that next weekend or couldnt get out of work on that short of a notice, etc. I told them that if they called me that I'd book my tickets that night!
I left the audition feeling that while I did my best, I wasn't sure if I did anything to really stand out. I went back to work that afternoon and then went to my daughters volleyball game. When I got home the family was sitting around talking about how the audition went and right around the time the Wheel of Fortune came on (6:30pm) my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and didn't recognize the area code, when I answered it was Wheel of Fortune and I almost hit the floor. I knew they weren't calling me to say I didn't make it; they were calling me because I was going to be on the show!!
Everything went crazy from there. Booking airline tickets, the hotel, sending emails to my kids teachers saying we were leaving for L.A. the next Tuesday to tape the show that next Friday. I got calls for interviews from the newspaper, radio stations and the television station that broadcasts the show. We made a great family trip out of the deal. We'd never been to L.A. before and did all of the touristy things from Universal Studios to the Pacific Coast Highway, found Pat and Vanna's stars on the Walk of Fame, went to Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. We had so much fun!!
We taped six shows on Friday and I was lucky enough to be on the first taping and even luckier to draw the number one spot on the wheel right next to Pat. It was so great when Vanna came out before the taping and wished us all good luck.
One of the best parts is that the shows theme is 'Halloween Week' which just happens to be my favorite holiday. Although I'm a grown man I have just as much if not more fun on Halloween then my kids. I have won over $10,000 in cash and prizes because of my costumes over the years and anyone who knows me, knows how much I love Halloween.
How'd I do? Well there's only one way to find out and that's to watch the show on Wednesday, October 27th. There are going to be some big Wheel of Fortune parties in Fargo with the 'official' party at TailgatorsSports Bar andPop's Dineron Main Avenue in Fargo. One of the radio stations is broadcasting live and every TV will be tuned to the show. I expect over 200 people to show up so if you're coming get there early!!