Jill K's Blog Post
"Be a contestant!" My heart quickened and I felt a strong feeling that now was the time! November 2015, after watching Wheel of Fortune while rocking my baby boy, I put him to bed and filled out the online application. Then, I excitedly pulled my husband into our Texas A&M room to tape my introduction ... repeatedly. After submitting the application, months went by, and I thought I'd have to try again another time. With three small children to care for, an upcoming missions trip, and life happening all around me, I had placed this opportunity in the back of my mind. Then in May 2016, I received an email invitation to audition!! The dream was revived!
The day of the audition was a Wednesday, the day I meet with the most incredible group of women at Gateway Church to co-lead them in fellowship, prayer and exercise. My prayer request that day was that I would do my best in the audition and have no regrets. They prayed with me, watched my children for me, and sent me on my way! At the audition I spoke clearly, clapped a lot, smiled, solved a puzzle and tested well. No regrets! Two weeks and two days later, I got the most exciting letter I have ever received! Just two weeks after receiving the letter, an email came with a tape date! Wow, that was quick! My mother was recovering from major surgery, so I had to make the tough decision to ask for a postponement. That was the roughest waiting period ever! 4.5 months later, I received another email from a different fabulous producer asking me to come to a taping! I replied with an emphatic, "YES! THANK YOU!!" before I even told anyone the email had come! My incredible support system: husband John; father in law and mother in law Garey and Patsy; mother Brenda; sister Jessica; and children Natalie, William and Duncan, booked flights and sleeping arrangements and off we went!
The day of the taping was the experience of a lifetime! After decades of enjoying games and watching the Wheel with my Granny, I was going to get to spin the Wheel myself! On the shuttle to the studio, nervous excitement filled the air as many of the anxious contestants spoke of their journeys to Wheel of Fortune in Culver City. After arriving at the studios, my favorite part of the preparation for the show was spin practice! Spinning the heavy wheel for the first time (and every time after) was exhilarating! To put a cherry on top, Vanna White came over to greet us and wish us luck! She was so kind and beautiful even without makeup!
It was time to start, and after cheering on other contestants, it was my turn! By then I felt a bond with the two other fantastic contestants I was playing with, Aaron and Chloe. We high fived and took many deep breaths before stepping up to the Wheel. The first Toss-Up came and I was a little frozen. Aaron solved it! Then introductions loosened me up as Pat humorously apologized to my kids after I referred to them as animals. I trained elephants and other large mammals at the Dallas Zoo before staying home with the kids so they know they are my most precious and loved animals. Haha!! The second Toss-Up was won by Chloe, and she started the first puzzle! Finally, I got to spin. Spinning really helped calm the nerves. It took me several spins to figure out the first word of the puzzle but I solved it! When Pat came over and said how much I'd won, I was excited because I hadn't looked at the board in the thrill of spinning and solving the puzzle! Pat was super funny and nice as usual. Then the Wheel was kind to me! I had to keep reminding myself to breathe as I was shaking on the inside, but I solved another puzzle winning a BedandBreakfast.com gift tag. My goal was to win the prize puzzle to get to bonus land... mission accomplished! The prize puzzle was, "This is not a Staycation" and I'd say a trip to Divi Little Bay Beach Resort in St. Maarten is truly far from a staycation! The third Toss-Up came and clicked. I pressed the button, "Coffee Grinder." It was unreal how fast it all went.
Bonus land was amazing! I now know that Pat holds your hand for comfort and it works! I knew the puzzle, and I don't think I waited for Pat to give me the timer to solve! "HOME BEFORE DARK" is now my favorite phrase! Pat opened the envelope to reveal $45,000 and all I saw after that was my sweet daughter running toward me with her arms opened wide, very emotional about what had just happened. My ecstatic husband was right behind her with my smiling mom and sister. My supportive mother-in-law was cheering proudly in the audience! Truly I felt so blessed that I was able to share this experience with all of the family who came!
Altogether, we left Wheel of Fortune praising and thanking God for a gift certificate, a trip, and nearly $55,000 cash. We celebrated with two days at Disneyland! After tithing, we plan to take a dream vacation to Australia/New Zealand!
Many thanks to the incredible Wheel of Fortune staff for an amazing experience, to my best friend and husband for encouraging me to live my dreams, to my in-laws for dropping everything to come to California to watch our young boys, to my mom and sister for carving out time to join us, to my dad and oldest sister who wanted to come but had to stay home, and to my Gateway Church family for covering us in prayer the whole time! If you've ever thought you should try out for the show, go apply!