Michelle A's Blog Post
FATE: The development of events beyond a person’s control. My Wheel of Fortune journey had many twists and turns of fate. It truly began back when I was a little girl. I loved to spell, I loved words. I remember driving in my parents’ station wagon and passing billboard signs, then trying to spell each and every word I’d just seen. It was great practice for spelling. I competed in spelling bees and loved it when my teachers would have a substitute because that usually meant a day of doing crosswords or word finds to fill class time. I’d watch Wheel of Fortune almost nightly as a child. Now, I share that tradition with my husband and our own children. They love a fun little thing we call “Wheel and Waffle Wednesday!” We make all different kinds of waffles for dinner and watch Wheel or play it on the PS3. It’s kind of our own unique version of “Family Game Night.” It brings everyone around the table, the kids love it and who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner!
Back in October 2014, Fate would continue me on my Wheel of Fortune journey. With 3 very busy teenagers who are active in sports, I’m in my car a lot. I happened to be listening to the radio and heard that the Wheel of Fortune Wheelmobile was going to be in my local area holding auditions. Guess what night?….(Wheel and Waffle) Wednesday Oct 14 and Thursday Oct 15. I was definitely going! I texted my best friend Sarah and said let’s go. Unfortunately, our names weren’t drawn that night. I was so tired from the long day before I wasn’t going to go the next day. But then my mom and dad called to say they were already on their way to babysit and my mom said, “You’re going!” If it wasn’t for her, my Wheel journey would have ended there. Thankfully, my dear friends whom I’d met in line the day before, Sue, Doug and Jeff had saved me a spot and my name got pulled out of the raffle drum that very first game of the night! I was the one who solved the puzzle in my group, Relief Pitcher (and I was missing my daughter’s fast pitch game to be at this audition). But this was still no guarantee I’d get on the show. They told everyone it could be a month before anyone would be contacted for a 2nd audition.
My next twist of Fate came a month later, November 2014. It was my turn to carpool to soccer but we found ourselves sitting at an empty soccer practice field. As I scrolled through hundreds of emails trying to find the soccer email with the daylight savings practice time changes listed, there was an email that read in BIG BLACK BOLD PRINT WOF 2nd AUDITION IN SEATTLE!!!!!!! It was in just a few days. I would have completely missed it if I hadn’t gotten to soccer at the wrong time. Thank goodness I was early for the first time in my life!! The email said they were looking for couples. My husband was not a puzzle person. I called and asked if I could bring my best friend Sarah. They said yes. So, Sarah and I started practicing. We downloaded the app. We started practicing on the PS3. We did everything we could to prepare. My husband and her boyfriend still didn’t think this was the real deal. They joked that we were sticking them with the kids so we could get more “Girls nights out”. And that if we did get on the show we would probably just win a trip to somewhere cold like Alaska (because we hate the cold and only like sunny, tropical places) and a Prius (because between me and Sarah we had 6 kids!) and couldn’t fit in that car! Well, Sarah and I decided we were going to prove the guys wrong!
We headed to Seattle. There were about 70 people there. After 3 hours of intense, fast-paced puzzle solving and a 5 minute timed test, we made it to the final cut. But were told we had to wait 2 weeks for a letter in the mail. On the 16th day I made that 16th walk up to my mailbox with my 2 yr old in tow, I opened the box and saw a bold print WOF peaking out on an envelope underneath other envelopes. Oh man, I started jumping up and down in the middle of my street, screaming and crying! I had made it. Unfortunately, my best friend had not, but we had promised each other we’d make the trip together regardless of who made it. And so we did. I could not have done it without her. She’s truly my rock. She’s always been there for me. She’s simply the Best Friend anyone could ever ask for.
I got the call from Alex, the Contestant Coordinator, a few weeks later. She was amazing! The whole crew was amazing. Since my husband and I were married in Disneyland, we’d taken the kids to Disneyworld, Disneyland and had just gotten back from Disney Aulani in Hawaii, and she said I’d appear on Disney Sea and Shore Week. I said Yes, I’m in! So, by January 2015 my husband Jens, our kids Hunter, Sierra, McKenna, my friend Sarah and her boyfriend Steve were on our way to L.A. On the plane I had every intention to study to prepare for puzzles, but decided to just give my brain a break from Wheel instead. At this point the only thing Disney I’d studied was listening to my 2 yr old, Chanel-Elise, watch Cinderella (or Relly Relly she calls it) over and over and over again in the car when I drive her older brother and sisters around to all their sports! Hopefully that would be enough! HA! We stayed with my brother Rhett, his wife Camile and their family in Temecula for a few days. While we were there, I played Wheel of Fortune with my niece and nephew Lauren and Micah. My niece jumped up and came back with something in her hand. Inside was a silver token with a STAR cut out in the middle. Written above the star was “Wish Token, Good for One Wish”. She said she’d had this token for a long time and didn’t know when she was going to ever use it. But now she knew she was going to give it to me. I thread this token through my watch band and wore it with me on the show. The star will have meaning later during my show.
We left their house in Temecula and returned to L.A. We checked into our hotel. The next morning it hit me. My husband walked me downstairs. I was getting nervous now. My husband just grabbed my hands and said look, it’s a game, just have fun with it! I got in the shuttle and off we went. When we got to the Sony lot and the big gates opened, I felt like a movie star! When we walked into the studio for the first time it was cold but colorful and bright! The set was incredible! The wheel seemed smaller than I thought it would be. The tiers coming down were big and the puzzle board was huge. The wheel was heavy to spin! The podiums you stand on are motorized up and down based off your height. The contestants get to sit in the audience during the shows. The whole week of shows are shot in one day. There were 15 of us and 2 alternates. Four of us were from Washington, 3 from the Emerald Queen! I recognized them. My group drew spot #4 so we had a while to wait to film.
We were filling out more papers and I was using my Wheel of Fortune Bic pen they give you as a keepsake when a contestant who was late came flying in. She was late and took the seat next to me that was open. She knocked the pen off my papers and it went flying somewhere! I was so busy looking for it I didn’t hear my group get called up to draw for spots Red, Blue or Yellow. See, I’d always dreamed of being on WOF since I was a little girl. Yellow is my favorite color because it reminds me of the sun and I love all things warm and sunny. And my lucky number is 2. So I really wanted to be first up there to draw for spots! But I was last up there because I was looking for my pen! Could Fate have been on my side? We’ll just have to wait and see on the show!
The staff was amazing! They were all so kind. The make-up artists were wonderful too. While we were filling out paperwork all of a sudden in walked a slender woman with her hair pulled back in a bun, just out of the shower look, in a grey Victoria Secret Pink sweat suit eating a bowl of doughnuts, yes, doughnuts! Who, you say? Vanna! She said Hi ya’ll. This is what I look like without my hair on! And Yes, I do eat doughnuts! (although, I didn’t actually see her take a bite) LOL. She was so sweet and kind. She told us to just relax and have fun. She gave us a quick pep talk and off she went. We never met Pat backstage, only out on set when the game actually started. That was the part that made me the most nervous! The Pat Chat! My neck and shoulders cramped up so badly that day, I could barely look up, down, left or right. Thankfully my game was # 4 of the day so I had time to try and loosen up. I’d grown up on stage dancing ballet, so the lights, cameras and audience didn’t scare me, but speaking in front of people did! So I was the most nervous about talking to him, especially since we hadn’t met him backstage. But he was so funny and witty I don’t know why I was so nervous. He was great! I think I did okay, but I can’t really remember what I said. Jim Thornton was great too! He’s not just the guy in the glass booth with the cool voice! He comes out and entertains the audience in between shows and during commercial breaks. He shouts out trivia questions and hands out prizes. My kids got a lot of cool gifts and autographed dollar bills!
So in the end, I have to say FATE has a lot to do with everything! Even on the wheel that night. This was a once in a lifetime experience and I will never forget it. Dreams really do come true, so Cinderella says. And as for us girls proving our boys wrong? Well all I can say is things happen for a reason and you’ll have to tune in to see why! As for the Star….to be continued.
Also, if you ever find yourself driving in your car and hear on the radio that the Wheel Mobile is in your local area……GO!!!!!!!! Thank you to everyone at Wheel of Fortune. It was an experience my family and I will treasure forever. We are truly Thankful and Grateful. God Bless.