This Week's Contestant
I've been watching Wheel of Fortune since I was a kid. I remember watching with my family while we were eating dinner and guessing puzzles with my twin sister. My husband and I started watching it when we were dating, and for YEARS, we've been talking about how I should try to get on the show because I'm really good at solving the puzzles quickly. So when I got an email from the Wheel Watchers Club that said they were doing an Atlanta contestant search, I knew it was my chance.
I had to record a 60-second video saying why I loved Wheel and why I'd be a good contestant. My friend Sherry recorded it outside of our office, and I tried to be enthusiastic and excited - that's what makes a good contestant, right? I uploaded the video and got an email from the casting people several days later inviting me to audition in Atlanta on November 1st.
I arrived at the Four Seasons in Atlanta and there were already potential contestants hanging out by the ballroom, waiting for the doors to open. There were about 75 - 100 of us. As soon as the casting people came out to let us in the room, people started hooting and hollering and clapping. From that moment on, I was smiling and clapping NON-STOP for about three hours. My hands were super sore that night - I'm not kidding!!! The auditions were a lot of fun - the contestant coordinators would call on a person and we played a bunch of rounds of the game. The first time they called me, I chose a consonant that wasn't in the puzzle, so my turn was over super fast. But I kept clapping and cheering and smiling while all the other people got their turn. It was easy to be excited!
Then it was time to take the written test. Yes, there was a written test and it was HARD. I am really good at word puzzles (if I do say so myself) and this was pretty challenging and we only had five minutes to do it. Then, the casting folks took our tests and went back to grade them. After about 20 minutes they came back, and told us that some of us were going to go home. I was actually pretty nervous at this point - I thought I'd done pretty well on the test, but there were some super enthusiastic people in the room and I didn't know if I had been memorable. Luckily, I made the cut! Then we were told to wait for a letter in the mail...
...and mine came several days later. I checked the mail and saw the Wheel of Fortune logo on an envelope and started jumping up and down in my driveway! I was so excited! I didn't expect to get the call for a while, but just a couple of weeks later, I got the call from Culver City, asking if I could be in Los Angeles on December 1st for a taping of Wheel of Fortune. The whole thing happened so quickly for me! I auditioned on November 1st, and taped on December 1st. I feel so lucky.
So we planned our trip to Los Angeles - We made a family vacation out of it! I brought my husband, my 22 month old son, my twin sister, her husband and son, and my mom. On the morning of December 1st, I went downstairs to the lobby of the hotel to take the shuttle over to Sony Studios, and there were already several of my fellow contestants waiting. When we all got on the shuttle, there was a lot of nervous energy - talking and laughing and making videos of each other on the shuttle.
We got to the studio and we were immediately put in the contestants' green room - there were snacks for us and makeup artists to prep us for the show. The taping actually started at noon, so I was totally wondering what we were going to be doing all morning, but, OH we had a lot to do! The contestant coordinators immediately got us started on paperwork and then after a little bit, they took us onto the studio to see the wheel and we actually got to practice spinning. It was so much smaller than I thought it was going to be - and really heavy! I was a little worried that being a leftie would hamper my spinning ability, because they want you to spin on your right side, so I tried left-handed and right-handed and decided to spin right-handed for the show. They gave us really detailed directions on spinning: thumb up, grab the wheel spoke and PUSH as hard as you can. I'm so glad they let us practice because you really did have to get used to it!
After we practiced spinning, we all went back into the green room to talk more about the rules of the game. By now, the contestant coordinators had figured out what groups of three they wanted us in for our show tapings. They divided us into our shows (now we knew who our competitors were!) and then selected one person in each group to be the ball picker. That person would pick a numbered ball out of a bucket and thus decide which show we would be in. As the ball picker for my group, I picked ONE! Which meant we were THE FIRST SHOW TO BE TAPED. We were super excited but this also made me EVEN MORE NERVOUS because we were going to be first!
Then we each picked another number to decide where we would stand on stage. I picked 1 again! So I got to stand right by Pat :) After all the groups had picked show order and we were all made up, we all went back out to rehearse for the actual taping.
Since my group was on Show 1, we got to rehearse first. We actually started playing a real game - they put puzzles on the board, and we started spinning and guessing. I WAS SO NERVOUS. The first puzzle was a toss up, and I buzzed in right away, and then guessed ..... SCOTLAND PONY. That is NOT A THING. (The solution was SHETLAND PONY.) I was so embarrassed. My jitters got even worse as I realized the potential for looking like an idiot on national television. Luckily after that, I buzzed in on the second toss up and got it right, so I didn't feel as bad. (And in hindsight, I think it was good that I got my terrible mistake out of the way during the rehearsal.)
Everyone got a chance to practice, and then we went back to the green room to study the rules and discuss playing tips. They really want you to play well, because it's more fun that way! So we got lots of tips on how to guess logical letters and figure out puzzles. One tip that I really used that I would have never done normally is to buy vowels. And seriously, it's good advice. I always thought contestants shouldn't waste money buying vowels but it actually fills in the gaps in the puzzle, gives you time to think, and lets you keep your turn without risking hitting bankrupt.
So after we went over the rules, got lots of tips, and had a final touch up on our makeup, it was time to GO BE ON THE SHOW! Watch me on January, 16th to see how I did!