This Week's Contestant
POSTED on Monday, September 17th, 2012
I have been a Wheel of Fortune fan since my teenage years. I remember when the show had rotating prizes of showcased rooms and you used your money to buy those prizes.
My Wheel of Fortune experience was quite a journey! My friends and I decided to go to open tryouts at Morongo Casino in January which is located outside of Palm Spring, California. We thought it would be fun and I hoped that I would somehow fulfill my dream of being on a game show. I was running late that night and had second thoughts about driving to Morongo which is 45 minutes from my house. However, my wife encouraged me and told me that I'd regret it if I didn't try. I didn't get down Morongo until an hour after the auditions had started. My friends had already been through the tryout process and they were both randomly selected to be on stage and played a mock game. I was jealous and thought that there was no way that I had a chance of being selected out of the hundreds of people trying out. However, to my surprise I was randomly selected and had my chance on stage. I wasn't able to solve the puzzle, but I showed great enthusiasm and was excited that I received a hat, keychain, and a blinking refrigerator magnetic wheel, which I have proudly displayed on my refrigerator. A few weeks later I received an email asking me to audition in Culver City in mid-February. I wasn't able to attend because the dates conflicted with a surprise cruise my parents had given my wife and I for our 20th wedding anniversary. I called the contestant hotline and told them of my predicament, and they were very accommodating and told me that they'd send another date for an audition. I didn't hear anything for 3 months and was getting anxious. I thought that maybe the show had moved on and my hopes for being on the show were diminishing. However, to my surprise I received another email requesting my presence for an audition. I was very excited because it was during the summer and I'm a teacher so I was able to attend.
When I arrived at the audition I tried counting how many people were at the audition and was sizing up my competition. I just kept trying to tell myself that I needed to show enthusiasm, play the game logically, and articulate my letters I called out. We all had a chance to play the game and the Wheel of Fortune staff got a feel for our personalities. Next, they distributed puzzles that were partial completed and we had five minutes to solve them. I was really nervous and was able to solve several of them and parts of other puzzles. They said that they were going to deliberate for about twenty minutes and they'd let us know who they wanted to see more of. After twenty long minutes, we were called back and they thanked everyone for trying out. Then they narrowed their search down to twenty people. I was the third person called and I jumped out of my seat and replied with an enthusiastic, "Yes!!!"
We then played more Wheel of Fortune and they asked us more in depth questions about ourselves. They also took a Polaroid picture of each of us. I'm sure I had never smiled bigger than I did that day. After we had each played the game one more time, they told us that we would know if we had been selected to be a contestant on the show by mail in two weeks.
I was checking the mail several times a day in hopes that I'd get my "golden ticket". One week later, I just felt that I had a letter in the mail. When I opened the mailbox I saw the Wheel of Fortune logo in the right hand corner of the envelope. I felt like it was a letter of acceptance to a major university. My heart was racing and I took it into my house and showed my wife. I was a bit in shock and she urged me to open the letter. The letter congratulated me on my selection of being a contestant on the show. I was so excited and called everybody I knew of my great news. However, I wasn't sure when I was going to be on the show.
I did everything I could do to start preparing for the show: Internet games, taping Wheel of Fortune, and reading blogs like this to better prepare me for the show. One week later I was outside doing yard work and I felt that I had received a call from the show. I went inside and my answering machine light was blinking. I listened to the message and they asked me if I could appear for a taping of the show in 10 days. My level of nervousness reached a new level of anxiety. I called back and they told me that they'd like me to be on the first week of the 30th anniversary. I happily accepted their invitation and my cramming sessions for the show became more intense. I played against my wife, my children and my sister in-law, Nicole.
Watch me spin on Monday, September 17th!