This Week's Contestant
POSTED on Monday, December 31, 2012
I feel as if my Wheel of Fortune story should begin with 'once upon a time' because it certainly seems like a fairy tale. I was having dinner with friends when one of them mentioned they had heard that the Wheelmobile was coming to the Mardi Gras Casino at Cross Lanes, WV, only about an hour away from us. My friend Tammy & I immediately decided to go, but our other friends were somewhat dubious about the whole thing. It would be an adventure and, if nothing else, a story to tell. Being a fan of the show since it was first on TV, I was delighted for this opportunity.
Although it was late April, it was damp and chilly the day of the audition. That morning it had occurred to me that holding a sign might get us on TV (especially if the sign contained the call letters for the local WOF station!) so I hurriedly printed out three signs. The first one said 'Wheel Spinning is AmaZing, with the letters WSAZ emphasized (no, I didn't get on TV). Signs two and three were puzzle categories: Tammy held the 'same letter' sign,
and I held the 'place' sign, Pilgrim, Kentucky, my hometown. If I had had this idea sooner I could have been more creative since there are dozens of puzzle categories to choose from.
Hundreds of people were at the casino. Lining up was like being in line for a ride at an amusement park, long and winding. Each person was given a small form to fill out with basic information: name, address, hobbies, etc. These forms were dropped in a box prior to entering the outdoor tent where the auditions were held. A stage was set up with a puzzle board. Even Pat Sajak & Vanna White were there! Well, cardboard versions of them anyway. Huntington, WV native and Wheel of Fortune announcer Jim Thornton was there and kept the crowd entertained between rounds. Traveling hosts Marty Lubin and Tracey Wilson were crowd pleasers, too. The atmosphere was electric as everyone was hoping to have their names drawn out.
Round 1 passed uneventfully for me but during round 2 Tammy and I whooped and hollered when my name was called. I raced to the stage. I had to be photographed then fill out and sign another form before going onstage. After this, if selected, an email notification would arrive within six weeks. Once onstage, there was puzzle solving to be done but at this time the main thing that the Wheel folks wanted to see was personality. I wasn't nervous when it was my turn to talk with Marty while onstage in front of that huge crowd (heck, I'd faced tougher groups in my classroom for more than thirty years!). He had me show my signs and then tell a little about myself. I told him that I was a retired high school art teacher and that I'd always told my students that Pat Sajak was the only man I'd ever leave my husband for. The crowd roared. Marty laughed, too, and inquired if my husband was in the audience. I said no but that he wouldn't mind if Pat took me for a spin (sly allusion to the Wheel), more laughter from the crowd. Marty said, "Nice interview!" and I floated off of the stage feeling pretty good about my chances of moving on. We stayed, cold toes and all, for round 3, in hopes that Tammy's name would be called. Sadly, it was not.
My Facebook status for June 1 read: Those of you who know me, know that I'm a HUGE WOF fan. I received an email tonight informing me that I had a call back audition for Wheel on June 13! I'm over the moon! I may need to borrow money to buy vowels! Wish me luck, friends!
Back to the Mardi Gras Casino I went. Things were getting serious.
Approximately six dozen people were there for this second tryout. Names were randomly called and we stood at our seats calling letters and trying to solve puzzles. The next step was a timed written test, and that five minutes whizzed by. A break was given while the tests were graded to see who would continue on. I was one of the fortunate ones and proceeded to the next phase, a simulated game where, in groups of three, we introduced ourselves, pretended to spin the wheel, called letters and tried to solve puzzles. The Wheel folks were amazing, they patiently answered questions and offered advice: smile, speak clearly and, most importantly, have fun! The audition concluded with several of us called back up for another simulated game. We were told that those selected to be on the show would receive a letter within two weeks. My letter arrived after two agonizing weeks and one day! It actually came on my wedding anniversary, best present ever (my husband said, "You're welcome")! The wheel was continuing to turn for me, however slowly: the letter said I would be notified sometime within eighteen months (that's a year and a half, people!), two weeks prior to the taping.
My Facebook status for September 18 read: WOF Update: I received an email tonight, I will be traveling to CA for an Oct. 4 taping! WHOOOHOOO! My show will air sometime between Dec. 31 & Jan. 11 :D
Watch me as I spin and grin on Wheel of Fortune January 3rd!