This Week's Contestant
|Theme:||Best of The Best|
My earliest memory of watching Wheel of Fortune was when I was 12 or 13 years old, when Chuck Woolery was the host and you had to "buy" prizes with the money you won. Since the show came on during the day, I basically only got to see it when I was home sick from school or during school breaks. Because I have always been a voracious reader, I was fascinated with trying to "fill in the blanks", visualize the words in the puzzle and solve it. I have always been a great speller, and I credit watching Wheel of Fortune for helping me make it to the finals of the Regional Spelling Bee for my school district when I was in the 8th grade.
When the nighttime version of the show premiered in 1983, that's when I really became a Wheel of Fortune fan. So much so that by the time I became a young adult, I made a promise to myself (and to anyone who would listen) that one day, no matter how long it took, I was going to be on the Wheel of Fortune. It was my destiny.
Starting around the time I got married in 1995, I started devoting time and energy to making my dream come true. I signed up on the Wheel of Fortune website at least twice a year to be a contestant, and to also receive e-mail alerts whenever the Wheelmobile would be coming to my area. I would also attend any and all tryouts in Illinois and nearby states. It became a running joke in my family whenever I announced that I was going to yet another "Wheel of Fortune tryout."
In September of 2010 I received a WOF e-mail that the Wheelmobile was on the road and heading to my area, to be held at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana (about 20 minutes from my home in Illinois) on September 29th and 30th. Since my wedding anniversary is September 30th, I took that as a sign that was the day I needed to go and (once again) try out for the show. I left work early that day, but it was raining and I barely made it to the 7:30pm audition. Evidently a lot of other people felt lucky that day as well, as the place was packed. I must admit I got a little discouraged at that point, thinking my name was not going to be drawn to try my hand at the wheel.
All the previous tryouts I had attended and my name had never been chosen, so why should this time be any different? It was the last round, and people had actually started leaving before the final three names were called to come up on stage. However I thought to myself what the heck, I might as well stick around. And whaddya know? My name was called to come up and spin the wheel! I was excited and terrified at the same time, thinking this was my moment, but now that it had arrived, what if I got up there and froze? As fate would have it I actually won my round, and after collecting my Wheel of Fortune key chain and hat, floated home on cloud nine! The contestant coordinator had informed us that if we were chosen, we would receive an e-mail in 2-3 weeks inviting us to an "official audition".
Sure enough, I received an e-mail on November 16th telling me that I had been chosen (by invitation only) to attend a contestant audition at a downtown Chicago hotel on December 2nd for a chance to try out for Wheel of Fortune, go to California and actually be on the show! OMG!! December 2nd is my birthday, so at this point I'm thinking that this could truly be my lucky day in more ways than one. I mean, what are the chances I'm going to audition for my long-awaited Wheel of Fortune appearance ON MY BIRTHDAY? The e-mail invitation was very official, with all types of rules and instructions as to what the audition would be like. We had to take a 5-minute written test, as well as go up and spin the "mock wheel" and try and solve the puzzle, all while showing our personality and enthusiasm. I was asked to stay for a second round (which was encouraging), and then at the end we were told that if we were chosen to be a contestant on the show we would receive a letter within two weeks confirming same. Needless to say that was the longest two weeks of my life! Of course, the letter arrived on the last day of the 2-week period, and by that time I was a nervous wreck! But it was all worth it. I had made it! It was both a great post-birthday and an early Christmas present.
Fast forward to February 2011. I received the call I had been waiting for almost half my life. A Wheel of Fortune contestant coordinator called and asked me if I could fly out for a February 24th taping (in less than 2 weeks). As much as I tried to make it happen, I just could not take the time off with such short notice. He assured me that my name would go "back in the pot" and that I had up to 18 months in which I was eligible to fly out and tape a show. I was devastated! I truly thought I had blown my one chance to appear on the show. However, on August 3rd the same contestant coordinator called again, and this time the stars were aligned and I was ready. They wanted me to fly out for an August 19th taping, and this time nothing was going to keep me from making my date with destiny. I received my confirmation e-mail two days later, with the theme week being "Best of the Best".
Tune in on December 30th to find out if truer words were ever spoken!