This Week's Contestant
POSTED on Thursday, October 18th, 2012!
On Thursday morning, July 26, I arrived at the Sony Pictures Studio at 7:15. After a short wait, a contestant coordinator came and led me into the studio. I joined my fellow hopefuls in the contestant room. We filled out the necessary paperwork, and we were given some tips on how best to play the game. The coordinators divided us into six groups of three, with one from each group designated as the “ball drawer”. The draw was to determine which episode, one through six, our team would play. We drew #3, which meant we played before lunch. We then drew numbers to determine our position behind the wheel. I drew #1...Yay! I got to stand beside Pat!
We then went into the studio and got our first look at the wheel. It looks so much bigger on TV and it was very heavy and hard to spin! We each got to film a little promo commercial for our local station, then we played some practice games. We were then taken to the special seating area for the day’s contestants. The audience was brought in and announcer Jim Thornton came out and “warmed up” the audience. The first team was put in place and the music began. The first two games flew by, and then my team was taken backstage, microphones applied, and led to the wheel. Out walked Pat and Vanna, and it suddenly became very real that I was on Wheel of Fortune!
We picked up our buzzers and the first pop-up game began. Bam, I got it! Now the pressure is on...I have to talk about myself! Believe it or not, I, who am never at a loss for words, forgot to mention my husband, and I didn’t say the names of my kids or grandkids. I did, however remember exactly how many snowmen are in my collection! Ha! Pat allowed me to redeem myself with Joe after the first break.
After that, I only remember bits and pieces of the next half hour. I won a trip, but didn’t remember to where. I had no idea how much money I had, even though it was there on the monitor. I won another trip to “somewhere”, solved some puzzles and won more money. Suddenly, Pat was standing beside me, telling me that I was the big winner! I had $29,600 in cash and trips, and I still had the Bonus Round to go!
Standing at the bonus wheel during commercial, I told Pat that I was afraid this was just a dream and someone would pinch me and wake me up, to which Pat replied, “Well, I can pinch you if you want, but I assure you this is no dream!” I closed my eyes and spun the wheel, knowing that anything beyond this point was just icing on the cake! Pat took my shaking hand and led me to my mark in front of the puzzle board. The free letters came up, I chose my 3 consonants (still don’t remember what I chose) and my vowel, an A. A couple more letters came up, and the pressure was on. I looked at the board and the answer just came to me! I threw my arms around Pat, so happy that I had solved the puzzle, and oblivious to my bonus prize. I heard the audience react, and I turned to see Pat holding my bonus card: $100,000!!! I totally went numb as I was showered with confetti and streamers! I remember Joe running toward me, grinning like never before. I had done it! I had lived my dream of playing Wheel of Fortune and walked away with more money than I could ever have imagined!
On our way home, we drove through Northern California, back into Colorado for a stop at the Hoover Dam, then to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. Arizona was awesome because I got to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and see a girl in a flat-bed Ford...second-best part of the trip! Then it was through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and back into West Virginia. We had been on the road for eleven days, arriving home at midnight on Monday, July 30. I don’t know who was happier that we were home, us or our dogs! And we have never been so happy to see trees and green grass!
The hardest part of this whole experience was not solving puzzles or being on national television. It has been keeping this secret for 84 days! We are planning a huge watch party with all of our family and friends. I just hope I am “alive and kicking” to see their faces when the show airs on October 17!