Emily B's Blog Post
Growing up in Iowa, we would go and visit my grandparents quite often in my mom’s hometown and I remember every night was the same routine: supper at 5 PM sharp followed by all of us cleaning up and being ready to watch Wheel of Fortune. My grandpa always sat in his chair, my grandma in hers and we would all sit around and see which of them would know the puzzle first. It was their favorite show and was a staple in our visits with them and something we always did together. As I got older this tradition continued and when grandpa and grandma got a computer, one of the only CD ROM games they had was the Wheel of Fortune game. Sometimes there wasn’t a lot to do in a small town so I remember my sister and I playing Wheel of Fortune on their computer in my Grandpa’s office until all hours of the night! My love of Wheel of Fortune has been a long-standing affair as a result and to this day it is still my grandma’s favorite television show and something we have continued to bond over.
Additionally, my dad is a fan of game shows so I continued to watch WOF even when home and one day I joined the Wheel Watchers Club online—because why not? You’re telling me all I have to do is sign up online and I can possibly win “$5K Every day”? OK! At this point in time I had just moved from the Chicago area to Seattle and so one day I received an email from Wheel of Fortune asking me if I’d like to audition for the show in downtown Seattle! Of course I want to! Trying out for a game show was on my “bucket list” after all so I figured if nothing else it will be a really cool experience. I had no expectations about actually making the show and was just there to see what it’s like to try out! I showed up to the audition and it was a really positive and exciting experience from the start. They wanted to hear us project, enunciate, and see if we had a strategy when calling letters and we took a written test that I was sure I bombed. Apparently not! The group size was reduced and we continued to play the game for the awesome people running the audition and they told us that we would hear in a few weeks via letter/snail mail if we made the show! I never dreamed I’d make the show, I was just really excited I had the opportunity to experience what it’s like to try out for a game show!
When I got the acceptance letter I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe they chose me! I shared the good news with my family and friends and then the waiting game began. I received a call at the beginning of February to film mid-month and fortunately the date worked perfectly so I booked my flight and hotel and was headed to LA!
Once in LA, it was a whirlwind of events—what do I wear? Will I win? Will people be nice or is this going to be super competitive and awkward? All of my fears were put to rest waiting in the lobby the morning of the taping as the other contestants waiting for the shuttle were so nice and just as excited as me! From the first moments of the day, everyone was very supportive and encouraging towards each other. We all had the mentality that we hoped everyone won something and the competitive attitude I worried about was nowhere to be found. Once we arrived at the studio we were greeted by familiar faces—it was all the people we knew from the auditions in Seattle! They were responsible for prepping us and answering our questions so it was really great to have familiar faces in this once in a lifetime experience. After we went through the paperwork, we were able to go and check out the set and practice spinning the Wheel (which is actually pretty heavy and hard to spin!) and it was Vanna’s birthday so while we’re out there filming promos and taking pictures and practicing spinning the Wheel, she came out and said hi to all of us and we were able to wish her a very happy birthday! After we finished practicing and filming local network promotions, we found out our groups and which show we’d be filming and before we knew it, it was time to start!
Soon it was my show’s turn to film. Pat was very kind and personable, wished us all luck and lightened the mood with some lighthearted joking and banter among myself and the other contestants. He was supportive and encouraging and it really helped calm my nerves. My aunt, uncle, and cousin were able to come down from Seattle and attend the show and I was able to see them cheering for me in the audience which also felt great to know if I ended up winning in the Bonus Round I’d get to celebrate with them too! Bright lights, multiple screens with information you need to know, the puzzleboard, and Pat and Vanna themselves all right in front of you while you’re trying to spin a heavy Wheel and solve a puzzle was a lot going on all at once but the contestant staff that we had been with all day was there and during commercial breaks they were encouraging and would give tips or input about how we were doing which made it very easy to refocus and get ready for the next round! When they say it’s much easier to be at home watching and solving versus actually being on the show trying to play, they know what they’re talking about!
It was over before I knew it and it was just such an amazing experience! Afterwards the other contestants waiting for their shows to film were so supportive and congratulatory of each other and additionally the contestant families in the audience were so kind to each other and everyone was just happy to be there, having a great time and being a part of something great! Being on Wheel of Fortune was one of the most positive and exciting occurrences of my life and in addition to the cash and prizes won, I will always remember the great people I was able to meet by being a part of WOF!