This Week's Contestant
|Theme:||Fabulous Food New Orleans|
|Hometown:||New Orleans, LA|
Tape day quickly arrived, and I was bursting to get the day moving. The morning was full of rules, regulations and releases to be signed. We practiced spinning the Wheel (so, so heavy!) and calling out consonants, and were assigned into contestant pairings by the producers (watch how many guys are wearing blue shirts this week, they did their very best to separate us). We drew lots for show order and where we would be stationed around the Wheel. I was drawn into the second show, and then a whirlwind of make-up, promo-taping for FOX8 and a nervous lunch meant it was time to begin taping.
Watching Monday's show elicited a mix of emotions. I was trying my best to focus on the puzzles, but the knowledge that my show was only minutes away made concentrating on the first taping impossible. Finally, it was time for Tuesday's show, and we took our places on stage. As Pat and Vanna appeared, I was actually able to relax a little, because no matter how big of a fool I appeared on national television, it would all be over in less than an hour.
For "Fabulous Food Week," I had a feeling the first Toss-Up would be "Food & Drink," but I could not figure out what kind of "fish" was being fried. Crawfish, of course, fit the puzzle, and I had the contestant interviews to get over my frustration. When "On the Map" appeared for the 2nd Toss-Up, I recognized "Gulf of Mexico" almost instantly, and was happy to have a lead heading into the first round.
When you practice spinning throughout the morning and before you tape an episode, the producers share tips on how to make sure you give the Wheel a whirl. Of course, with the first spin of the game, my hand slipped off the Wheel and it spun straight to Bankrupt! It was hard to wait silently for it to become my turn again, but I was lucky enough to regain my turn and on $2,500, and decided to solve before I risked bankrupting again. After I solved, I realized that I had left two "P's" uncalled, but I hoped that the lost $2,500 wouldn't come back to bite me.
After finishing "Chefs Cooking Cajun Cuisine", I felt good about my position relative to the other players, but I knew that whomever won the Prize Puzzle would be in the lead going into the third Toss-Up. Never having a chance to spin in that third round was difficult, and a trip to Miami left me just over $3,000 behind the leader. Even after solving the Toss-Up, a $75 deficit had me kicking myself that I hadn't called those "P's" earlier in the first puzzle.
I was fortunate to know the solution to the last puzzle before my second turn, but waiting for my chance to call a letter and solve was the most nerve-wracking part of the day. I was thrilled to be making it to the Bonus Round, and was determined to make my chance count. Thanks to other's analysis of the past few years of Wheel of Fortune, I was set on "H, G, B and O" as my letters, regardless of the puzzle in front of me. "Voucher" was in my mind before the letters were revealed, and "Travel" then came quickly after.
When Pat opened my envelope, I was dumbfounded. I know that the cameraman was trying to get me to do or say something into the camera during the celebration, but to this day I have no clue what that could have been. Thanks go out to my friends and family for all their support: without Samy and Sarah taking me to the audition, and from there, a series of fortunate events, this would never have occurred. At times, my Wheel escapade still does not seem real, but I have memories that will last a lifetime. Finally, a big thank you to Pat, Vanna, the producers, and everyone who was at the taping that day for an adventure I'll never forget!