This Week's Contestant
I have been watching Wheel of Fortune since it first aired. I've won millions of dollars playing on my couch. I decided that if I could solve the puzzles that easily at home, why not go and win some of that money for myself? I promise you, I filled out that online contestant form a zillion times. I even went to the Wheelmobile event in Fort Worth four or five years ago. No luck! I had almost given up hope that I would ever get selected to appear as a contestant. Then came the moment that I had been waiting for!
It was a dreary overcast Saturday morning, March 6th, 2010. I was having terrible pains in my back and legs, but with my walking cane in hand, I made my way to the auditions. Standing in line for hours was horrible and there was no place to sit. Finally a young lady standing in front of me offered to go and get an extra chair from her car. Shortly thereafter, we made it into the arena. People were running around trying to pump up the potential contestants. Because my back and leg was hurting, for the most part, I stayed in my seat. Keith Garvin, a reporter from CBS-11 came on stage and drew the first name out of the drum. I could not believe it, he actually called my name! I jumped up, forgot all about the pains I had, left my walking cane and my purse at my seat and hurried onto the stage. Now remember, I said I was in excruciating pain. Well, hearing my name was an instant pain reliever!
Once I got on stage, the gentleman filling in for Pat Sajak began my initial interview. He asked me a few questions including what I enjoyed doing. I happened to mention that I enjoyed singing. Of course the next thing out of his mouth was, "Wouldn't we love for Wanda to sing us a song?" I almost panicked. I sung a few bars of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and hurried back to my position in the line of potential contestants. That part of the process went rather quickly. We were told that we would hear something in one to two months if they were interested in having us come back for a final audition. That was on Saturday and by Tuesday I received that long awaited email invitation to the final auditions!
When I got to the final audition I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that I had prepared but what would I really have to do. I felt pretty good about calling out the consonants or asking to buy a vowel and Ive never had a problem projecting. Then they passed out "the test." This would separate the real players from the want-to-be's. We had 5 minutes to solve 16 puzzles. When they called time, I wasn't sure if I had completed enough to continue in the process. For a few moments I thought about leaving before the coordinators came back into the room. Then I decided that I would stay and leave with the crowd. And am I glad that I did? When the coordinators came back in, they called off 15-20 names and again I was surprised when I heard, "Wanda W." We played another series of mock games and I was lucky enough to solve the very last puzzle. I will never forget it, it was a "Before and After".HELPING HAND SANITIZER! I read the first part and was so excited that I was solving the puzzle that I almost forgot to say the last word. All of the coordinators and contestants got a good laugh from that. We were told that if we were going to be considered as a contestant we would get a letter in the mail within two weeks from that date.
Like a kid waiting on Santa Claus, I anxiously waited for the mail carrier everyday for the next week. I was convinced after about nine days that I had blown my golden opportunity. We went out of town that Friday. When we returned late Sunday night, I retrieved the mail from the box and there it was, my confirmation that I had been selected to be a contestant! I had my granddaughter in the car with me and when I screamed she wanted to know what was going on. I told her, "This is the letter grandma has been waiting for. I am on my way to WHEEL OF FORTUNE!!"
I received a call for taping in August and a second call in September. When the calls came in, I had just gotten out of the hospital on both occasions. I feared that they would not call back after the first time. And when they called the second time I was really frustrated that I might not get a third chance. But, I did! The last call came in January for a February 24th taping date and I was finally able to respond with a "Yes, I am available!" So I would like to send a "special thank you" to all of the contestant coordinators for being so accommodating and bearing with me during my medical challenges. You allowed me to fulfill one of my dreamsto spin the WHEEL and rub shoulders with Pat Sajak! Tune in Monday, June 6th, to see how I did!