This Week's Contestant
POSTED on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
My day at Sony Pictures studios was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience! We started the day early with the contestant coordinators, who reiterated the rules and had us sign their standard paperwork before sending us in to the makeup artists who prepared us to be, "HD Ready." My makeup artist was so friendly and professional, as well as enthusiastic and genuine. I felt like a real star! Throughout the day, the makeup artist would be at my side to give me touch-ups. Each time I saw her, she would say something encouraging, too. The contestant coordinators provided us with a tasty breakfast and lunch. At various times throughout the morning, Pat Sajak and Vanna White took time to greet us personally. Pat was super witty in person, and Vanna was authentically nice and truly a beautiful person (even without makeup).
Before the show started, all of the contestants to be filmed during the day were given a tour of the studio along with having some practice games while spinning the Big Wheel. Visiting the studio in person was amazing! Seeing the technicians setting up the extensive sound and light systems, along with all of the high-tech cameras, and knowing that I would soon become a part of this very studio's history was almost overwhelming. My desire to see it all made it hard for me during the practice rounds. After I guessed the letter X twice in one round, they assigned an employee to stand behind me to remind me to pay attention and focus on the game. Later, my wife who was watching the practice rounds in the audience said she was praying that my practice performance wouldn't be an indicator of my actual performance.
Getting to know my fellow contestants throughout the day was also a lot of fun. I really enjoyed that, by the time we got to actually play the game, none of us felt like we were competing against each other. It was more like each of us was competing against the wheel. My favorite moment during the day was watching a fellow contestant during an actual game. She got confused when she spun the wheel and it landed on a stationary lighted segment. As she bent down to pick it up, Pat Sajak startled her by exclaiming, "Don't touch that!...the whole wheel might explode!" We all laughed so hard!
When it was my turn to play, I was surprised by the game's pace. The contestant coordinators had been telling us all day to keep the game flowing at a brisk pace. Watching the others play was completely different than actually playing, though. The first few rounds were tough for me. I didn't buzz in fast enough on the first Toss Up round, and another contestant buzzed in to guess the first puzzle before I'd even solved it. During the first commercial break, we all had to step down from our platforms while technicians changed some of the wheel's prize segments. At this time, my makeup artist told me to take a deep breath and relax. I took her advice, and when gameplay resumed I was able to successfully answer the next two Toss Up rounds, and I startled myself by guessing a few of the remaining puzzles quickly. Things moved so quickly that I felt like I was in the audience and watching myself yelling the solutions to the puzzles.
At the end of the last round, I was SHOCKED to realize that I'd scraped by the other two contestants and that I would be getting a chance to solve the final puzzle. I saw my wife being led down from the audience to stand on the side of the set, ready to run onto the stage. I proud, excited, nervous, and relieved (to have made it this far) all at once. Pat told me to really give the wheel a good spin, so I did. A few of the letters I guessed were in the puzzle, and I'm sure everyone thought I had it in the bag. Unfortunately, standing in the spotlight made it much harder for me to focus. With only 1 second remaining on the clock, I shouted a desperate and absurd answer, "Just spy the dork!" Unfortunately, I missed out on winning the Ford Mustang convertible. I'm still finding time in my day to kick myself about that! Either way, I won some money, made my friends and family proud, and had an awesome experience that we'll never forget!