This Week's Contestant
|Theme:||Give Me A Break|
|Hometown:||Los Angeles, CA|
Being from Los Angeles, I was called to be an "alternate" once before on the show. That basically meant going to the show as though I was a contestant but only getting an opportunity to be on TV if another contestant couldn't attend or became sick. It was a long day of watching others win money, but in hindsight it made my actual tape day a little easier.
I was trying to keep myself calm all day while waiting for my turn. The contestant coordinators do a great job of keeping you busy so you truly can never let your nerves settle in; that is until it's finally your turn to be on camera.
I just kept telling myself that this was all for fun. No matter what, you win $1,000 and you have an experience of a lifetime. It was almost time for the taping to begin and I clearly remember constantly exhaling and wiping my sweaty palms on the padding between the Wheel and me.
Besides simply solving the puzzles, there are some many things you need to know and remember while on the show. You are told where to look to see the puzzle category, the used letters, the amount of money in your bank and your opponents, and of course the puzzle itself. You are told how to properly spin the Wheel. You practice a few times but still feel slightly unprepared. You are even told how to clap so that your clapping sounds don't interfere with the microphones. There is so much for you to remember. Then the cameras begin to roll and you just hope you remember half of what they taught you.
I barely remember the first "Toss-Up" round. It went by so fast and I didn't quite have my nerves all together yet. Once I talked with Pat though, it was all downhill from there. I solved the first round puzzle. I remember it being the turn of the contestant to my right and I had figured out the puzzle. I just kept hoping somehow my turn would come back around so I could solve it, and it did. I'll never forget "Pop Star Katy Perry". A huge sigh of relief was felt with that one puzzle solve and now my nerves were calm.
I solved a few puzzles that day, including the Prize Puzzle, which won me a trip to Belize! You are told not to look down at the Wheel while it's spinning so that you can concentrate on the puzzle. I had no idea the amount of money I ever landed on and so really didn't know how much I won. I didn't even know if I ever landed on the $3,500 or $5,000 wedges. Pat announces it out loud but as long he doesn't say "Bankrupt" you almost only hear him say, "You got money, pick a letter."
It wasn't until the main portion of the show ended that I knew I had won just over $30,000 in cash and prizes. Holy moley! $30,000! Before you head to the Bonus Round, you get a brief moment of more coaching. How to spin the Bonus Round Wheel, how to pick up the prize card, how overly excited to be if you solve the puzzle, and how much more excited to be if or when Pat opens the card revealing your winnings, there was so much more to know.
So I introduce my mom, and two friends in the audience and now it's time to begin. This moment was terrifying. I remember thinking, "Wow the puzzle is so much bigger when you stand this close!" So Pat reads off the six default letters and I choose my four. And my timer starts now. I had about half the letters but for some reason the phrase "Pure Gold" just didn't sound right. I remember saying that phrase to Pat as though I was asking him a question. Pure Gold? Slowly (or so it felt to me), he responded, "Yyyyeeeessss!" Once his response registered, I screamed loudly! I was so excited to have gotten it correct, I almost forgot I was doing this to win a prize. Pat opened the prize card to reveal that I had won $45,000. Are you kidding me? From here on out everything sort of went in slow motion. My mom and friends ran out. There was jumping and screaming, and a camera guy filming very closely, and hugging, and more screaming, it was wild!
I haven't decided what to do with all my winnings yet. I'm sure a credit card will see some of it, and I believe a new computer is in my future. Before going on the show, I had many phone calls telling me that if I win a trip, why I should take the person on the other end of the call. Who knew finding ways to spend lots of money would be so difficult? I guess I know now. Thanks Wheel of Fortune for a wild and unforgettable experience!