Allyson G's Blog Post
Since I was a little girl, my parents and I tuned in and played along to see who could solve the puzzles the quickest. More recently, we played Wheel of Fortune on the PlayStation 3. One time, a PlayStation Network user messaged that I must be cheating because I answered the puzzles too quickly. I did well with puzzles but never imagined I could actually end up on the show. After applying online for 6 years with no success, I had my chance when the Wheelmobile visited Jackson Rancheria in August 2013. My mom called me the same day to make sure that I was going to the audition. Although my fiancé and I had plans to train with Martial Artist Legend, Dan Inosanto, I knew I could not pass up on Wheel of Fortune. While my fiancé went to train, I called my parents for help. My parents picked me up and just like watching and playing together, we made our way to Jackson for Wheel of Fortune.
There were hundreds of people in that packed room hoping for the opportunity to play. We filled out short applications to be randomly drawn from, my biggest obstacle, the Wheel of Fortune Gold Drum. Only five people are chosen per group and only 6-8 groups get called for an hour-long mock show. The first show, while fun to watch, came and went without my name called. We went right back in line, filled out another application, and filed our way back into the same room for the 2nd show. And then we did the same for the final show of the day. At this point, I felt the odds were tipped against me. I felt that I had a better chance here than online but I wasn’t having the best of luck up to that point. For the last show of the day, it was “by-the-book movie suspenseful” as they finally called my name.
Our group gets on stage and it’s time to introduce ourselves to the very entertaining traveling host, Marty. When it’s my turn, I say that I like to sing and I also practice martial arts. I thought he would ask me to demonstrate my singing, as he had done with a lot of other contestants, but he asks me to show him some martial arts moves instead! I show him a flowing arm lock drill and Marty tries to punch me, playfully of course. I counter with my own “kick” and he falls down. I end the demonstration and stop the “fight” with a flurry of punches. Marty gets up and demonstrates a few moves of his own as I back off. While unexpected, this fun opportunity settled my nerves as we move on to the puzzle. While I didn’t solve the speed-up puzzle, I had an amazing time. In my defense, there is a large population of “Sea Divers” as there are “Sky Divers.” Hopefully, I did enough to get the email invitation for the final round of auditions. Marty let us know that we would get an email within the next three months if we are chosen for the final round. Selection processes can be so nerve-wracking. I checked my inbox and spam every day for two months until I got the email! Once again, my fiancé and I had plans, but he told me to go for it. The audition was 10 days away, so we had to rearrange our plans in a hurry!
My fiancé and I share my car so I could not go to final auditions on my own. Learning of the news, my parents were ecstatic and more than willing to take me back to Jackson. I arrived along with about 70 other hopefuls in the room. They called out names one at a time to call out letters and solve the puzzles. I called out an “R” and solved the puzzle, “Chocolate Labrador Retriever.” With this small victory and its thrill, I jumped up and down and even won a Wheel of Fortune tote bag! After I solved the puzzle, there was an announcement by the contestant coordinators. They asked that we make the most out of our turns so they can see how we play. I thought I ruined my chance because I solved it after calling just one letter. Next was the timed written test. We had five minutes to solve as many of the 16 puzzles as possible. It had to be the fastest five minutes of my life. I was confident in 10 of the 16 but wasn’t sure that would be enough.
We took a short break and I spoke with my parents in the lobby. I told them that I hope they didn’t see me again too soon because the cut was coming after the break. The contestant coordinators came back and started calling out the names of the people that made the cut. After about 12 names, I heard mine and let out my most enthusiastic “Woo!” We then played a more intense game in smaller groups of 5. We spun a pretend wheel and introduced ourselves to the coordinators, who by the way are truly amazing at what they do.
After the audition, they let us know that if we are selected, we will get a letter in the mail in the next two weeks. With that, I checked that mailbox every day on the dot. Junk mail, bills, flyers, but no Wheel of Fortune. That familiar despair came every day I didn’t get it. Then, on the last day of the second week, I looked in the mail and saw one single envelope with that familiar Wheel of Fortune logo in the corner. I couldn’t believe I was going to be a contestant on my favorite game show!
I emailed Alex, one of the contestant coordinators, the dates that I wouldn’t be available. I gave the month of my wedding in 2015 because I figured it fell within the 18 months to be a contestant and I had no idea how long it would take to get on the show. But I got an email four days later with a taping date! I booked my flight and in one month, my fiancé and I would be on our way to Culver City.
I practiced my puzzle-solving skills every day on the mobile app; I wanted to be ready. I played so much that the puzzles were beginning to repeat themselves. I called my best friend and we practiced word associations. I studied songs, classic TV shows, anything, and everything that could be used on Wheel of Fortune. On the plane to LA, I couldn’t use my phone, so my fiancé looked through the in-flight magazine to make puzzles for me to solve.
Maybe it was the trip, but I slept soundly through the night. In the morning however, anxiety rolled over me as I realized that I would be playing on “America’s Game.” To find out what happened next, watch me spin on Monday!