This Week's Contestant
|Theme:||Sandals® Resorts Week|
POSTED on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
After a few short weeks of flight coordination, work scheduling, and outfit planning (thank you, friends!), the big day arrived. I was nervous leading up to game day - not for the game itself, but because I had been sick for almost two weeks and was constantly coughing! My grandparents were looking down on me because I woke up on game day feeling great.
I made my way downstairs to wait for the shuttle to the studio and met a number of other contestants. Everyone was kind, excited, and thrilled to be part of this adventure. The day was a lot of fun! We learned the rules, practiced on the wheel and even had our hair and make-up done (you ladies were the best!). The day felt magical and dreamlike from start to finish...including the moment that Vanna came out sans makeup, hair in a messy bun, dressed in jeans and a tee, to wish us good luck! She was so kind and friendly and made us feel right at home. Before I knew it, we were grouped into threes and I was asked to pick a random ball to find out which show my group would be playing and which spot I would be standing in. Well - Game 1 and spot number 2 it was! No time to watch other contestants play - we were kicking things off!
After doing a quick spot for our local news station (hello to 6ABC!), it was game time. We took our spots and the countdown began. Before I could blink, there were Pat and Vanna making their way out from behind the letter board. It was exhilarating! My favorite television show was showing taking place in real life...and I was part of the action!
Leading up to the game, I had promised myself I would not guess at the first toss-up round puzzle as a tactic to try to calm my nerves. I knew that no matter what, contestants would walk away with $1,000 for playing, so I did not want to say or do anything impulsive for this round. Why then, did I guess, “Creatal blue waters”!?! I’ll never know! The “chat with Pat” was a lot of fun. He was kind and funny, and then it was time for the next puzzle. Before I knew it, it was my turn to spin (and they are not lying when they say it is heavy). I got into a rhythm, the wheel was going my way, and I began to fill in the letters to a long puzzle while earning some decent prize money. The only problem? I was not sure what the puzzle was because it was referencing a movie I have never seen! Finally, I decided to take an educated guess...and I will never forget that Tom Hanks starred in the film “Splash”! When Pat confirmed I had guessed the puzzle correctly, I absolutely went bananas. I could not believe this was happening in real time!! I looked into the audience and saw my brother, Tommy, and husband, Bobby, cheering. It was too exciting.
The next few rounds flew by. In between the puzzles, you step off of the stage to have your hair and makeup retouched and to drink some water - these women kept me calm! It is MUCH harder to play in person than it is to play from the living room. There were so many different things to be mindful of: where to clap my hands so as not to interfere with the microphone, where to stand so that I remained centered on camera, where to look for the used letter board, being mindful of the countdown clock - all this while trying to solve the puzzle, stay calm, ignore any prize(s) or money that was accumulating so as not to feel overwhelmed, and looking at Pat and Vanna in the flesh! I had great competitors and one started to catch up to me quickly and soon surpassed my total to take first place. I tried to stay calm and focused. And then it was the final round in which Pat gives the wheel “a final spin.” This was my chance to take it home. We each began to put some letters on the board...and then the light bulb went off in my head - I knew what the puzzle was. I guessed a letter that I knew there were two of in order to get the additional money and I solved the final puzzle! I looked at the scoreboard - I had done it! I was going to the bonus round!
I saw the producers moving my brother and husband from their seats so they could give a wave to the camera, I had the chance to give the bonus round wheel a few practice spins, and then it was time to go! I gave the wheel a good spin and Pat took my hand - and then I put my other hand on top of his because I had to take the opportunity, right?! - and it was puzzle solving time. R-S-T-L-N-E...some of the puzzle started to come together. Two words...second word “impression”...but what was the first word? The time ran out...“Vague Impression.” Pat opened the prize I would have won - $50,000 - but believe it or not, I didn’t care. I was too ecstatic that I had actually won the game and made it to the bonus round to begin with! In fact I think I told him, “I’m good!”
The experience was one of the most incredible of my life - from start to finish. Bobby and I are excited to pay off some student loans, throw a party for family and friends, donate some to charity, save some more for long-term, and leave a bit to splurge. Th_nk y_u, Wh_ _l _f F_rt_n_ f_r th_ _xp_r_ _nc_ _f _ l_f_t_m_!!!