This Week's Contestant
I did my best to not have any expectations at all about the show. I did not want to be disappointed if I left with the $1000 consolation prize. Honestly, my main concern was not making a fool out of myself on national TV. If I did have to choose one thing to win, it was the prize puzzle. I was desperate for a tropical vacation after countless months in the cold, Oregon rain. As I took my spot at the red wedge, I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I felt like I was dreaming and could not believe that I was actually about to play Wheel of Fortune. Right before Pat and Vanna made their entrance, I got a little light headed and quickly took a deep breath to prevent any embarrassment I might have if I was "that" contestant who passed out. I also repeated my interview in my head so that I wouldn't stumble over my words with talking to Pat. Suddenly Pat and Vanna emerged, I picked up my clicker, and the first Toss Up was starting. Normally in the comfort of my living room, I answer Toss Ups easily.
Here with the lights and the cameras, I stood there dumbfounded. I easily identified the first word as USA but must have forgotten the category because Today didn't cross my mind and before I knew it, the contestant next to me solved the puzzle. The good news about not solving the puzzle is that I was the last contestant to be interviewed so I had the opportunity to relax before it was my turn. I sailed through my interview and before I knew it, it was time for the second Toss Up. Once again, I was beat to the punch and had lost most, if not all, of my confidence. The first round started and I landed on that darn Lose A Turn space on the wheel. I actually solved the puzzle fairly quickly in my head and was waiting for my turn to come around again. Unfortunately, the player directly in front of me landed on the Free Play wedge about 5 consecutive spins and was able to solve the puzzle before my turn came around again.
The second round started and that player landed on the $3500 wedge and quickly accumulated a large amount of money. When I spun the wheel, I landed on the Mystery Wedge. I called a letter and quickly earned $4000. The suspenseful music played and I had the choice to make.
Normally, I would have loved to gamble and take the chance of possibly turning over the $10,000 wedge. But I needed to maintain control of the round. I feared that if I turned over the Mystery Wedge only to find Bankrupt, control would return to him and he would end up solving the puzzle and taking a huge lead. I chose not to turn over the wedge and as irony would have it, landed on Bankrupt my next spin. My fears came true as the round ended, I still had no money, and one of my opponents was thousands of dollars in the lead.
Next up was the Prize Puzzle. I knew from watching countless episodes of Wheel of Fortune that this was the puzzle that could make or break you. This was the puzzle I wanted to win more than anything. I started off this round but ran into some more bad luck. Luckily control returned to me and I spun and called a letter which I knew was in the puzzle. Chocolate coconut... (blank). What was that last word? The category was same letter but my mind could not figure out what the last word was. I bought the last vowel, the U, and finally the light bulb went off. Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes! I was so excited to have finally solved a puzzle and better yet, it was the Prize Puzzle! I anxiously waited for Pat to tell me where I was going and was overjoyed to hear that I had just won a trip to Hawaii!
I was feeling good at this point and when the third Toss Up started, I was surprised to find myself buzzing in with the correct answer. Just like that, I was up to $13,000 and was in striking distance of the lead. The next round started and before I knew it, Pat was giving the wheel the final spin. If I were to have any regret from the show, it would be this. When I waited for my turn, I kept thinking that the next letter I would call would be an H. I just kept thinking, H, H, H. When my turn came around, the letter I spit out was M. There happened to be an M in the puzzle but it wasn't too helpful. The next player called an H and there were 4 H's in the puzzle! She was able to easily solve the puzzle and the game was over. Had I called the H and solved the puzzle, I believe I would have gone to the Bonus Round. But as fate had it, I would finish in second place with a wonderful trip to Hawaii. Not one ounce of me is disappointed and I know that everything worked out as it should have. My expectations were far exceeded throughout this whole experience.
The entire Wheel staff was exceptionally wonderful and Pat and Vanna could not have been nicer. Looking back, it seriously all feels like a dream. I can't believe that I was one of the lucky few who got to experience this amazing once in a lifetime opportunity. And the icing on the cake is that I won a fabulous trip and some spending money too.