This Week's Contestant
|Hometown:||New York, NY|
POSTED - 3/21
Have you ever lost $30,000 in 7 seconds? Ensign Herb and I have, and we don't recommend it!
But wait let me start from the beginning.
My mom, step-dad, and sister drove up from San Diego to watch me tape. Like me, they arrived late the night before, and were staying in the same hotel. Unlike me, however, they accidentally left ALL of the clothes they were planning to wear at home! That's one 10:00pm shopping trip they'll never forget. It's a good thing I don't believe in bad omens!
Like the audition, the day of taping somehow seemed very long, and yet it flew by at the same time. Our call-time was early in the morning, hours before the first game would start in the early afternoon. The Contestant Coordinators spent the entire morning going over everything there was to know about the game - every rule, category, and special space on the wheel was covered. We got to go out on the stage and check out the various boards - the game board, the score board, the used-letter board - and of course, the big wheel itself. Each of us got some practice spinning the wheel and calling out letters, while the dedicated crew did everything from snapping pictures, to adjusting microphones, to touching up our make-up. (Special shout-out to the wonderful ladies who did our make-up! I naturally have the complexion of a recently-turned zombie, but I'm sure they made me look fabulous!)
When it was finally our turn to tape, I think we were all nervous to finally be standing in front of the big wheel. As that first toss-up puzzle leapt onto the board, I couldn't believe how long it was taking all of us to ring in. The puzzle was practically complete before I solved it - GONE FISHING! Finally, I felt my nerves relax - I had put enough money on the board to at least cover this last-minute cross-country trip, so there was nothing left to do but have fun! (Oh, and hitting the jackpot for $11,000+ didn't hurt either!)
Here are some things that I didn't know before I was on the Wheel:
- As many people have shared, the wheel itself really is a lot smaller than it looks. It's only about six feet across! The platforms around it make it look deceptively large on TV.
- The wheel is HEAVY. (Everyone asks me about this.) It weighs 2400 pounds, and you literally have to both pull it in AND push it away to get it to go all the way around.
- Each player is actually standing on their own adjustable platform, which the crew will raise and lower before the show so that even the tallest/shortest contestant can comfortably reach the wheel.
- I've always thought that it was weird that contestants tend to clap down by their waist (which I've always thought of as polite/fake clapping), rather than at their chest like a normal person would; turns out, they're just following directions and not clapping into their microphones!
- The removable pieces of the wheel - e.g. the Million Dollar wedge, the Wild Cards, the KIA tags, etc - are collectively called wedgies. I giggled at this like an 8-year-old kid.
- The game is basically filmed in real-time, so your time on-stage goes by very, very quickly! During the commercial breaks, which only last about a minute, the contestants step away from the wheel, have their makeup touched-up, and are given a quick drink of water while the crew places the next round's wedgies. ::giggle::
- YES, there is a Used-Letter Board, so everyone knows which letters have been called and which letters remain, but it's MUCH smaller than I imagined! And it should really be called the UNused-Letter board, because it starts with all 26 letters, and they drop off once they've been called.
My #1 favorite moment of the day? About an hour after we arrived, we were still backstage, taking a break from going over the rules, eating breakfast danishes, and generally trying to fight off our nervousness - and then VANNA walked in! She was wearing a casual, gold-colored jogging suit and very little make-up; her hair was simple and pulled back. Hi guys!, she said, with that big, million-dollar smile. I just wanted you to see how I look when I come into work in the morning! Even without all the lights and makeup and fancy gowns, she was absolutely radiant, and just as nice as could be. Then - and I'm not making this up - she took a big-ol' honeybun off the breakfast table, and stuck it in her purse for later. A-maz-ing. I love Vanna!
No matter how much money I won or didn't win, being on the Wheel was one of the best experiences of my life. If you've been a casual, lifelong fan of the show like I have, and you've always thought about auditioning - do it! And like I told my mom, Don't audition like you're trying out for a game show. Pretend like you're auditioning for a movie, and you're playing a character who's already winning a lot of money on the Wheel! If you have fun, you'll be fun to watch - which will make you hard to beat. Hopefully, this advice will come in handy for my mom - because right after she came up from San Diego to see me play, we went back to WheelOfFortune.com and signed her up for an audition!
Despite winning over $31,000 in cash and prizes, including a week-long trip to Morocco, I don't think I'll ever live down that Bonus Round. Here's what happened:
As soon as Pat announced that the category was PERSON, I started playing my at-home game in my head (see my pre-game blog!) where I try to guess the puzzle before any letters are revealed. My first thought - I kid you not - was ACTION HERO. Then, the freebie letters (RSTLNE) started turning up, and I had:
_ N S _ N _
_ E R _
Here came my first of two fatal errors: I realized the first word couldn't be ACTION, so I scrapped the whole thought, not even considering that the second word could still be HERO. Determined not to panic, I stuck with my game plan, and chose the statistically most common letters: C H D and A. This gave me:
_ N S _ N _
H E R _
There it was, staring me right in the face - HERO - but I had already eliminated it from my mind as a possibility! Pat was talking to me, but I wasn't listening. I was desperately going through EVERY LETTER left on the Used-Letter Board - yes, the board's still there, even in the bonus round - trying to plug each letter into that last spot to complete the second word. And that's where my second fatal error occurred: the consonants are listed separately from the vowels on the Used-Letter Board, and I was only looking at the consonants!
The only sensible word that I could form with the leftover consonants was HERB, which didn't make any sense with this category. I have no idea where ENSIGN came from (and no, it doesn't fit), but I was frantically trying to create some appropriate title for my friend Herb. I was defeated - but consider it a little salute to all of our brave enlisted men and women out there, ensigns and beyond!
So that's it that's how I lost $30k in just 7 seconds. But still, I drove away happy that day - and I had won more than enough money to consider myself very lucky! And like I said before: no matter how much money I won (or didn't win), being on the Wheel was one of the best experiences of my life, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!