This Week's Contestant
My journey to Wheel of Fortune started off one September day while driving home. A huge billboard on the side of the freeway caught my eye. It said that the Wheelmobile would be coming to Florence, Oregon which is only about an hour away from my hometown of Eugene. To say I am competitive is an understatement. Add that to my love of game shows, specifically Wheel of Fortune, and I was beyond excited. I immediately called my sister and plans were made right away to make the trip to audition for the show.
On the day of the auditions, my sister, mom, dad, 6 month old daughter, and I made our way over to Florence. We filled out short applications and dropped them into a box. The host explained that 5 names would randomly be picked at a time and those potential contestants would get a chance to come onto stage, give a quick interview about themselves, and play a puzzle. It was stressed over and over to be really excited and to make yourself stand out. Calling logical letters was also important but solving the puzzle would not guarantee an invite to the next round of auditions. No matter how many times the host emphasized acting excited and being unique, I was shocked that most contestants did not show any enthusiasm and didn't seem to prepare for their interview in advance. I anxiously waited for my name to be called, although with a couple hundred people in the room, I knew that my chances were not likely. To my surprise, my name was called in the second hour. I was overjoyed and ran to the stage, waving my arms and letting out some whoops. The host actually commented on my enthusiasm. Being a previous collegiate and professional cheerleader, I knew that one sure way to stand out was to perform an original Wheel of Fortune cheer! I had practiced it over and over prior to the audition and was so excited to be able to perform it on stage. I felt fairly confident with my audition and although I didn't solve the puzzle, I was optimistic that I would receive a call back in the upcoming months.
Fast forward 4 months later. I was casually checking my email when I came across an email with "Wheel Of Fortune Auditions" in the subject line. I was so excited that I immediately called my sister before I even read the entire email. The second round of auditions were coming to my hometown of Eugene, Oregon in 2 weeks! I called the RSVP number and left a message confirming my attendance. And then the countdown began. I had read some Wheel contestant blogs so I knew a little bit about what to expect. On the day of the audition, my sister and I (who had also received a call back) arrived at the hotel. As expected, there was a much smaller group of hopefuls than were at the Wheelmobile. We were seated in a room, filled out a couple of forms, and watched a Wheel of Fortune highlight video. Then it was time to play more puzzles. Our names were called and we stood up, a small wheel was spun by the Contestant Coordinators, and we had the chance to call out letters in a loud, clear voice. I was the last person to be called but once again, I think my cheerleading background gave me an advantage. I was able to project my voice loudly and I definitely made sure to keep a smile on my face the whole time. Next we had 5 minutes to complete as many puzzles as possible on a written test. There were puzzles grouped by categories with a few letters filled in and we had to fill in the blanks. When I first scanned over the sheet, I immediately panicked because I didn't know any of the puzzles right away. But I took a deep breath and took my time and ended up completing about half. The Contestant Coordinators collected the tests we took a break while they deliberated for about a half hour. When they returned, they asked about 20 people to stay for additional auditioning. I was one of the lucky ones asked to stay.
Next we went to the front of the room in groups of 5 and again were able to play a mock game. We actually pretended to spin the wheel and called out consonants, bought vowels, and solved the puzzles. We were told that if selected, we would receive a letter in the mail in the next 2 weeks. About an hour after I got home from the audition, I received a phone call. I could not believe my ears! It was Wheel of Fortune asking me to travel to Los Angeles the following week to be on the show! Even though it was such short notice, I know that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. I immediately started to make travel plans, rearrange my work schedule, and recruit family to make the trip with me. I could not believe that I was getting the opportunity that so many people only dream of!
A week later my husband and I loaded up our SUV with our suitcases and now 10 month old daughter, picked up my sister and mother-in-law, and started the 850 mile drive to Los Angeles. Although driving was not our preferred method of transportation, it was the most logical decision. We drove all night and once we checked into our hotel, it was group nap time. Later that night I had a fashion show of potential outfits, and then it was early to bed for the whole gang. I woke up every hour that night, terrified that my alarm wouldn't go off and that I would miss the 7:15am shuttle departure from the hotel. Luckily, I made it down to the lobby with plenty of time to spare.
All of the contestants loaded onto the shuttle and we made the journey to Sony Studios. Once we arrived, we were ushered in the contestant holding room. I struck up a conversation with a fellow contestant who was also from Eugene. It was neat to compare similar audition stories. We immediately filled out more paperwork as well as went over the legalities. Suddenly, in walks Vanna White without her hair done or make up on! I was definitely star struck as she graciously introduced herself and wished us all luck. Then it was time to see the actual studio. I was shocked to see how small the wheel actually is. It looks so much smaller in person than it does on TV. We each got a turn to spin the wheel and boy, the rumors are true. That thing weighs a ton! We went back into the contestant room and had makeup applied, ate some snacks, and reviewed the rules and puzzle categories with the Contestant Coordinators.
We were then assigned the groups of 3 that we would be playing with and one person from each group drew a number to see which show we would be taping that day. Out of 6 shows, our group selected to tape third. I couldn't have been happier. I was going to get to watch 2 shows tape before ours and wouldn't have to sit all day and let my nerves get the best of me. We then drew for spots on the wheel. I selected spot 1, or the red wedge, and was once again excited that I would get to stand right next to Pat for the whole show! Next we went back into the studio where we taped our "Hometown Shout out" and took a picture next to the wheel. We got to practice spinning the wheel again and calling out letters. Before we knew it, the first group was getting ready to play their game! The rest of the contestants and I were whisked off to the audience to watch until it was time to tape our show. Tune in February 21st to watch me spin!