This Week's Contestant
POSTED on 4-9
I've watched Wheel of Fortune as far back as I can remember. Growing up, it was always the show that my whole family enjoyed together. My mother rarely sat down to watch a television show of any kind, but Wheel was different. She looked forward to that time of the evening and rarely missed an episode. This created a special family bond with all five of us enjoying it together.
As an adult I continued the tradition of sitting down at 7:30 and competing with whomever joined me in solving the puzzles before the contestants. When my first daughter Madison came along she first learned how to clap while observing the colorful wheel spin. I have pictures and videotape of this that I plan on showing her when she's older along with my amazing experience as a contestant.
It's no wonder why I was fascinated with television game shows and started at the age of 18 applying to be on one. Wheel of Fortune was always the ideal show for me. I loved the comradery between the players and that they seemed generally excited for one another. Sure it looked competitive, each striving to be the lucky one to make the bonus round, but every episode I witnessed contestants clapping and congratulating their fellow players on individual successes. And the absolutely best part was that no one EVER walked away empty handed. Even if they had an off day and didn't solve a single puzzle the contestant still left with some money and a smile. How amazing would it be to enjoy an once-of-a-lifetime experience like this and know that in a half hour you would still earn more than you could make in a full day of actual work?! So I set my mind that I would do anything I can to audition for the show. I looked for every advertised Wheel Mobile event to attend and stood in many of lines hoping that someday my name would be called to go on stage and impress the contestant finders. But...it never was. My name was never chosen. After each Wheel Mobile event, it would be announced that even if our audition form was not selected out of the barrel of names, we still had a chance of one day being on the show. The forms would be sent to Los Angeles where a few additional people would be chosen to attend a final audition at a later date. I always left these events with a glimmer of hope, maybe one day this would be me.
Fast forward thirteen years later and it was! I received an email asking me to attend a final audition in San Diego, which is roughly an hour away from my home in Murrieta, and I immediately called my husband and parents. Everyone was so excited and my mom even admitted to being a little jealous. Both my parents have also attended the Wheel Mobile events though oddly enough decided not to go to the most recent one with me.
At the final audition there were roughly seventy people in the room and the contestant team clearly stated what they were looking for; upbeat, loud, clear voiced individuals who understood the game and wanted to have fun. THIS I could do! Three hours later the room cleared out and roughly 15 people remained. The contestant team announced that we would receive a letter in the mail in two weeks if we were selected. However, they had a precious few slots open for the following week's taping. Crossing my fingers, I heard my name called and asked if I was able to tape the next Friday!! "Yes!" I responded without even considering another answer.
I called my husband, mom, and dad on the drive home and all I recall of those conversations were a lot of screaming and tears of excitement. When I got home I emailed my boss and asked for the following Friday off even though the schedule for the week was already completed. Needless to say, he made it happen.
The next week flew by with arranging a babysitter, calling my friend Tonya to attend the taping with me, and making sure my husband Daniel and my mom also were able to take the day off to experience this too. My father had to work though I knew how much he wanted to be there.
Thursday came and I loaded up to drive to the hotel I would be staying out with Tonya before my early morning call time the next day. I think I got about two hours sleep that night and was hoping I didn't look it. Finally Friday was here!!! All the contestants loaded up into the van driving us to Sony studios and we all congratulated each other on making it this far. As we drove up to the studios I thought to myself, 'this is it Beck! Your dream is about to come true!
Walking into the Sony Studios gave me such an incredible feeling. Before the shows taped, the contestants were able to go onto the actual set and play a few practice rounds to get used to spinning the HEAVY wheel. My 'practice round' spot was in the red space which also became my actual spot during the taping. When it was my turn to practice I reached down and spun the wheel all my strength. Everyone started laughing and the contestant coordinator explained to me that I spun the wheel in the wrong direction! Oops!! It's not like I had a practice wheel in my living room!
Thankfully, we were all able to sit in the make-up chair to have the amazing make-up crew apply HD camera ready make-up on us. Since I had very little sleep the night before I was especially relieved to have a pro assist me in looking the best I could. Also during this wait period we signed contracts, tax forms, and randomly picked which show we would be taping along with which contestants we would be playing with. I was chosen for the third show which I thought was perfect since I could watch the first two being taped before it would be my turn on set. While watching Monday and Tuesday shows tape I did everything I could to let the whole experience soak in. This was really it! Never again would I have this experience and I wanted to remember every detail. The size of the set (tiny), the amazing Vanna and Pat (both extremely friendly and down to earth), and the overall sense that I was one of the lucky few (an incredible overwhelming feeling).
I remember looking into the audience and feeling a sense of relief when I found my family and friend there. Finally it was my turn and I walked onto the stage. Watch me spin Wednesday, April 11th!