Jake O's Blog Post
I have always wanted to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. I remember watching the show every night with my family throughout my entire childhood. Even in college, I watched it (whenever I had the time) with my roommates. It was always a dream of mine to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune.
After signing up to be on Wheel of Fortune’s email list, I was on my way. A year or two passed with none of the emails inviting me to audition. I knew it would take time, but years? It was a long wait until Spring Quarter 2013, but then all of a sudden, I was invited to send in a video audition tape! I had my roommate film me outside at a nearby park where I told the producers why I would make a great contestant on the show. Even though I didn’t know what the next step would be, I was super excited to maybe hear some more good news one day soon.
Fast forward a few months to September where I received a phone call inviting me to a group audition in Century City. The audition was the following week so I did all I could to prepare for it. I made sure to watch some extra Wheel of Fortune episodes online and search the Internet for any tips I could find on how to be successful in the audition. It all came down to being myself and having a good time. Although it was nerve-wracking to audition with so many other people, it was a really fun day. At the end of the audition we were told that if we were selected to be a contestant on the show, we would receive a letter in the mail in the next fourteen days. Since I was at school the following two weeks, I called my mom everyday asking her if there was anything exciting in the mail. Day after day, her answer was no. And what do you know, on exactly the fourteenth day after my audition, I got that good news phone call from my mom… I was going to be on Wheel of Fortune! Words couldn’t describe how pumped I was.
After reading all the important information in the letter, I learned that I was now on the contestant list and would be called for my taping sometime in the next eighteen months. I was a bit antsy the next few months until I heard when I would actually be on the show. It was the end of January, and I was told that it would be my time to shine on February 14th for College Week and America's Game. It was finally here!
All I could think about those next couple of weeks was Wheel of Fortune. From waking up in the morning to going to bed at night, it was all about Wheel of Fortune (probably not the best for my grades but oh well).
Finally, the morning had arrived. I made the walk from my hotel to Sony and there I was. I was greeted by one of the contestant coordinators and was taken to the contestant holding room where I met all of the other college kids. The next four hours or so, we got prepped on all the rules of the game, signed a bunch of paperwork, and practiced spinning the wheel (so weird to be in the studio and see the wheel and puzzleboard!). We also all got our makeup done. Although all of us couldn’t get our minds off our excitement of what was to come, we were quick to get to know each other and make friends. That was one of the best parts of the entire process! Coming from all over the country, getting to know everyone was a blast. It was a lot of fun to go through the whole morning (and afternoon) with them as we were all in this together, competing against the wheel.
After being divided into groups of three, a random drawing found my team set for the sixth and final taping of the day. The first five episodes of the day were for College Week and the sixth one was for America’s Game. For the next several hours, I was able to watch all of my friends compete against the wheel with each other. Although a bit tired after watching so many episodes tape late into the afternoon, I revived myself just in time for our taping. I was nervous yet so excited!
There were so many different thoughts and emotions going through my head: all the lights, the cameras, the audience (including my family), the buzzer, spinning the wheel, etc. But, I chose to just let them all go and focus on having fun because that was the most important part to me. I was there for the experience, not the money. Well, Pat and Vanna walked out shortly thereafter, and a brief 30 minutes later the episode had finished taping. I couldn’t believe how fast it went.
Looking back on it, I could not have asked for a better experience as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. The entire crew was so nice and supportive, all of the contestants were awesome to hang out with, and actually taping the show was the greatest thrill ever! It was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and I could not be more grateful to Wheel of Fortune! I had the absolute best time being a contestant!