My wife and son and I watch Wheel of Fortune every night. It has been an integral part of my child’s upbringing, as it has helped him with his spelling and pronunciation of certain words and phrases. Ever since he was diagnosed with Autism at 2 ½ years old, we have used any and all tools at our disposal to help him learn to speak and write. Wheel of Fortune has really been a fun way for him to learn without it feeling like he was at school.
One night during Wheel the advertisement for the Wheelmobile came on, and we decided we wanted to try out for the show. Since it was only ½ hour from our house, it was a no brainer to try out and see if we can make it. We were some of the first people in line, and made a lot of friends with other Wheel fans in line. I had a crazy Hawaiian shirt on and dark sunglasses, and had lots of people cheering for me when I got picked, so I hoped this was enough to get me an audition. It WAS!
The audition process was fun but tough, as I did not do well on the written test, and I thought that I would not be on the show because of it, but I made the cut and got a letter telling me I made it as a contestant on the show! And shortly after that I got my taping date! In the meantime I did my best not to miss any shows, and also practiced a lot by downloading and playing the Wheel of Fortune app on my smartphone.
On the day of our taping, once all the contestants made it from the hotel to the green room backstage, it was evident that we were all excited to be there and ready to have fun and maybe win some big money! The first time I walked out onto the set with all my fellow contestants that day and saw the wheel and the puzzle board for the first time, it was surreal. It was a dream come true. But it would only get better. As we were practicing spinning and calling letters we heard from behind us “Hi guys!” In walked Vanna. No fancy dress, no fancy hair, just a woman on her way into work with her street clothes on. She stopped and talked to us briefly and wished us luck. She was very pleasant. Now it was starting to sink in. This was really happening!
My wife, son and mother-in-law were in the audience and watching as the show began, so they were able to join in on the fun of watching and playing along (quietly, though). And when Vanna and Pat walked out from behind the puzzle board to begin my game, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face and had to hold back some tears of excitement and joy because this was about to go down. I could not even tell you what the first few puzzles were, or who won them, as it all went so fast and I don’t want to spoil any surprises for my family, friends or anyone else.
I would say it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. To be able to see the behind the scenes production, be part of America’s game and to be able to compete on TV for prizes and money and all the while be surrounded by such a great production staff and hosts, you couldn’t ask for anything more.
Thank you everyone at Sony Pictures and Wheel of Fortune for the help and direction and giving me the opportunity to come to California to play in America’s game. It was a once in a lifetime experience that my family and I will never forget!