This Week's Contestant
POSTED on Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Arriving in Los Angeles was so surreal. I kept thinking to myself: "I'm here to be on Wheel of Fortune!" My parents came with me on the trip and were the best at preparing me for my big day. Upon arriving to the studio, the contestant coordinators greeted the other contestants and me, and immediately had us practicing on the set. The set itself was even more spectacular in person. Everything was so bright and shiny, which really added to the feel of being there. Spinning the wheel was an amazing experience in its own! I'll answer the most obvious question: "Was it heavy?" Of course! I think everyone gets a great arm workout after the day is over.
We practiced calling out letters (in a LOUD, clear voice!) and solving puzzles. Once we were back in the dressing room area, the coordinators were going over some of the general rules of the game and how the episodes are taped. Out of nowhere, Vanna White walked into the room and wished us all good luck! I was so excited! Vanna is just as beautiful in person as she is on television.
From there, all of the contestants had to draw numbers to see what show they would be on and what color position we would be. There were a series of six shows taped and I was show number 3 for "Shopping Spree" week. I was so happy I would be able to watch a couple of episodes taped before mine, just to get a feel for how it all goes down! I drew to be the yellow player, which was also the spot I wanted! I couldn't believe everything was going my way so far.
Once it was show time, the coordinators had the other contestants and I sat in the studio audience and watched our fellow players try to win big money! All of the contestants were full of energy and a lot of fun. Everyone got along and we all wished the best for each other. Before I knew it, it was time for my show! The adrenaline was flowing, and my heart was racing. "This is it," I thought. "You got this." Seeing Pat and Vanna walk out literally felt like a dream. I couldn't believe this moment was happening! I quickly brought myself back to reality in hopes of snagging the first toss-up. Vanna touched the first letter, and off we went.
Within the first 5 minutes, I was already $1,000 richer just by saying the words, "Cash Register." Once I won the first Toss-Up, I felt so ready to win more! Second Toss-Up. Here goes! I ring in again; only this time I solved it incorrectly. I got so excited to beat my fellow players buzzing in before me that I just said the first thing off the top of my head. As soon as I got it wrong, I realized what the puzzle REALLY was. Oh well! Brush it off and move on, I thought. I knew that was the best thing to do. As we started into round one, my fellow contestants filled in some of the puzzle but lost their turns. Now it was my turn. Before I knew it, I landed on the $2,500 wedge! I snagged a quick $7,500 dollars with 3 H's and ended up solving the first puzzle!
Going into commercial breaks, the contestant coordinators would touch-up our makeup and provide us with water. They're so thoughtful! I was glad that the money was spread around in the second and third round. The time went by so fast that it was already time for the $3,000 toss-up. I rang in so fast that it looked like Pat gave me a look of confusion and said, "Michael?" I quickly solve the puzzle, "Reading Cue Cards" and everyone looked impressed, including me! I don't know where it came from, but it landed me more money and the start of the fourth round. It was time for the final spin, and the pressure was on. I was trailing going into the last round, but managed to pull off the win by solving the last puzzle. At first I didn't know I won until Pat said, "Look what you did!" I leaned over towards the wheel in utter surprise that I was on my way to the bonus round with over $18,000! The coordinators all congratulated me and the other contestants and I was moments away from the most crucial part of the show.
As we approached the final puzzle, I had the best method to making sure I would be as calm and focused as possible: I told myself to pretend I was on my couch watching this happen, just like any other bonus round puzzle. To be honest, it worked perfectly. I called the right letters, and I snagged the bonus round puzzle for an additional $30,000! My parents ran out on stage and we celebrated like no other.
Our happiness and celebrating on camera is not just from solving the bonus round, but mainly because we all knew I accomplished my lifelong dream of being on Wheel of Fortune. The show closed with Pat and Vanna talking about cue cards and how Pat never reads them on the show. Vanna walked over and took one of the cue cards from a stage coordinator and proved him wrong! One of my favorite moments of that day was standing in-between them when the credits were rolling and making a paper airplane with Pat and Vanna out of his cue card! The experience could not have been better and everyone at Wheel of Fortune was so warm and welcoming. The contestants were all so friendly, the coordinators run a top-notch show, and Pat and Vanna are just amazing people.
So what will I do with my winnings? Well, I plan on visiting my aunt and cousins in Las Vegas. They're a second family to me. Most likely I will be saving most of my winnings. I'm still young and now have a great start on life. I could use that money to help me buy a house, or watch it grow over the years. Either way, Wheel of Fortune has given me an experience of a lifetime and I encourage every single Wheel Watcher that ever wanted to be a contestant to keep trying. I did. You never know what the future holds!