This Week's Contestant
|Theme:||Celebrating New Orleans|
|Hometown:||New Orleans, LA|
The day of my Wheel of Fortune taping was one of the longest, and shortest, of my life. Despite being at the Convention Center from 8:45 in the morning until after 6:30 in the evening, the whole day seemed to fly by. The contestant coordinators did a great job of acclimating us to the Wheel and the puzzleboard and all the various things we would need to navigate on this crazy day.Early on in the day, we had the chance to visit the set and spin the Wheel! I was struck by the intricacy of the set. With the theme of "Celebrating New Orleans Week," the crew had spared no expense in making the set look like a real French Quarter courtyard, even down to the tiniest details in the background. I was also struck by both the size of the wheel (I thought it would be bigger) and its weight (it was unbelievably heavy, especially given its relatively small size).
After this, we went back to our holding area, where every imaginable detail of the rules of the game was explained to us. As a part of this, the contestant coordinators explained every single wedge that would be on the show. Among these was the Jackpot wedge. I leaned over to one of the other contestants and told her that I couldn't remember the last time (if ever) that I saw someone win the Jackpot.
Well, after a few more hours of waiting, it was finally time to tape our shows. I was in the third taping, which was nice, because I'd get to watch a couple of tapings to get my bearings and get a feel for the flow of how a show would tape. Well, in the second taping, another contestant actually won the Jackpot! When she came offstage, I told her what I had said before and how I couldn't believe the incredible coincidence that she would win it in front of my very eyes!
When it was finally time for my taping, I was crazy nervous. I actually buzzed in too early on the first Toss-Up and had to guess.
And even after winning the second Toss-Up, I didn't feel too much more comfortable. About halfway through the first round, there was some sort of scoring glitch and we were all asked to turn away from the puzzleboard. It was probably only about two minutes, but it felt like forever. When we finally turned around to start spinning, I had forgotten even what round it was. As I spun the Wheel, I remember seeing the Jackpot wedge and thinking, "What happens if we land on that wedge, even if it's not the Jackpot round? Is it something like $500 a letter?" Well, all of a sudden, my spin DID land on that wedge! I guessed a letter, and Pat told me if I could solve the puzzle I would win the Jackpot, I'd win over $10,000. Now, I don't remember how the number got that high, but I did know the answer to the puzzle. I called it out and it was right, "JUST ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY." Wow! Ten THOUSAND dollars! Just like that!
Now, in the previous two tapings, contestants jumped out to huge leads, only to see them slip away. Fortunately, I was able to hang on (by the skin of my teeth) and make it into the Bonus Round! Once there, I certainly didn't get much help. My category was "Show Biz" and my puzzle read "_ E _ _ _ _ _ _ E." Not much help.
I guessed four pretty random letters: "H, M, D, and an A." Pat told me that all of the letters I chose were in the puzzle. The board now read "MED_A H_ _ E." Now the second word was a little tricky, since I couldn't figure out what vowel came after the "H." Then it hit me. There wasn't a "vowel" but a "Y." "MEDIA HYPE!" Crazy! I had just won. . . $30,000! My wife and family ran up to join me on the stage. My beautiful wife was bawling with joy!
Afterwards, I treated all of my friends who had attended to a great dinner at "The American Sector," which is the restaurant at New Orleans' National World War II Museum. It was a great end to a fantastic day, one I'll never forget!