This Week's Contestant
POSTED on Monday, January 7th, 2013
I was raised by my mother in a house with my two brothers, one of them a twin, in Plainfield, Indiana. As an adult, I still live within a half-hour drive of Plainfield. For as long as I can remember, my mom has shared her passion for words with all of her children. I can recall her dictionary, sitting on the kitchen table with a bookmark, or seeing her reading the dictionary in her spare time. She was always writing down new words as she was reading or watching television, in order to improve her vocabulary and her ability to play Scrabble. Her excitement was contagious when she would look up a word and shout, "Alright! It has seven letters!"
From the time my attention span allowed me to sit down for an hour, and my maturity allowed me to accept losing a board game, my mom could rarely resist an invitation to play Scrabble. If I wanted to stay up past my bedtime, one of the only ways to do so was to challenge my mom to a game of Scrabble. To this day, I doubt I've legitimately beat my mom at a word game more than ten times. Another of our family pastimes was watching Wheel of Fortune together. We loved the friendly competition of trying to be the first one to guess the answer to a puzzle. Correctly guessing the final puzzle of the game was, and is still, a thrill. To this day, the only people in my life who can give me any real competition in regards to word play games are my brothers and my mom.
My wife, Vanessa, knows how much I love to watch Wheel of Fortune. One night, she encouraged me to get online and sign up to audition. I remember thinking that it would be so cool just to try out, even if I didn't make it onto the show. I didn't really expect to receive an audition invitation, but a few years later I got an e-mail during the summer inviting me to try out for an audition in Louisville, KY. Because my wife and I are both school teachers, we were on a school break. We decided to make a day out of it. We took my mother, who was very excited, and planned to have lunch at a well-known restaurant in the area and take in the sights.
At the audition, there were 50 people in the room. We took a written test, and the results were used to keep the top 25. From then on, we were encouraged to be enthusiastic, smile often, and to think fast as we were grouped to play quick rounds of the game in front of the contestant coordinators. By the end of the long audition dayit must have lasted over 3 hoursI was feeling good because I'd won a few of the practice rounds and I wasn't having any trouble being enthusiastic and extroverted. At the very end, the contestant coordinators named three people, myself among the named, to come up and have photos taken. I was so excited when I left to tell my wife and mom how well the auditions went. A few weeks later, when I was contacted by Wheel of Fortune to say that I was going to be on the show, I was elated! Before I flew to Los Angeles, my wife and I watched Wheel of Fortune every night and read strategy advice online. Auditioning and being invited to appear on America's Game has been so exciting! My wife has been super excited and supportive through it all, and my mom is proud to know that she has played such a big role in shaping my love of words.
And, by the way, my mom still beats me at Scrabble just about every time we play!
Watch me spin on Tuesday, January 8th!