Kristi D's Blog Post
For as long as I can remember I have loved watching Wheel of Fortune. As a child, I was more interested in Vanna’s dresses than the actual puzzles, but can you blame me? She’s always poised and beautiful, one classy lady, and even classier in person. As I grew, I began to appreciate the puzzles as well, although I’ve never stopped enjoying Vanna’s gowns. Nowadays, I enjoy watching Wheel of Fortune with my husband and kids who have been telling me for years that I should go on the show, so when the Wheelmobile came into town, I knew I had to try.
Off I went, to spend the day watching others be called up onto stage and trying out for a chance to audition for WoF. Although it was fun to watch, I was disappointed when the day came to an end and I hadn’t been called onto stage. I shrugged it off and was happy I’d at least had the courage to chase a dream. I was stunned when I received an email a few months later inviting me to audition in Portland, Oregon. I had to take a day off work in order to go, but it was worth it! I had a great time and left feeling hopeful and grateful for the experience. I waited two weeks, and no letter came telling me I would be on the show. I thought I’d missed my chance. I was wrong! My letter arrived the next day and after hyperventilating and screaming and jumping and Facetiming my family, I was off to L.A.
What a whirlwind! I was so excited and nervous and excited! On the day of the taping, I didn’t think I’d survive leaving the hotel, but when I got to the lobby I met a group of fellow contestants. They were fantastic and helped me to calm down and enjoy the entire experience-thank you Molly and Laura! Most of the morning was spent preparing to be on the show, makeup and trying to keep my heart from exploding. I kept mumbling to myself, “I’m not scared” and being grateful when my fellow contestants smiled and assured me I’d be fine rather than avoiding eye contact and switching seats.
The moment that I truly realized it was all-real and my lifelong dream was coming true, was when I saw Vanna for the first time. She came out early in the morning, hours before taping was to begin, to say hello and wish us all luck. When I saw her, I started to cry, as I am right now just remembering it. She was so kind and gracious and tiny! Who know Vanna was that petite?!
When it was finally time for my show to begin, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. However, Pat came out and we spoke and then I was calm. I was ready for this! I solved a few puzzles “Slow roasted prime rib” ”Amazing transformation” even the Prize Puzzle “Pails, shovels and pool toys”. At the beginning of the Prize Puzzle, Pat leaned over and asked us if we’d like to know a secret about the Prize Puzzle. We all leaned in, anxiously awaiting his answer, and he said, “It’s going to be great”. I laughed and felt even more at ease, and he was right, I’m quite excited about my trip to Oahu! I was thrilled when I realized I was off to the Bonus Round. I laughed at my mother and sisters who were in the audience because I knew how nervous they were and they had been teasing me about my nerves-payback girls!! When I first saw the Bonus Puzzle, I really didn’t think I’d get it, but after the extra letters appeared “Aerial photo” became clear! I’d won!
It was incredibly hard to keep it all a secret until it aired, but I made it a little easier by trying to slip the puzzles I solved into conversations with my husband. The night after the taping, I went to dinner with my mother and sisters and we celebrated with “slow-roasted prime rib” dinners and made sure to send an “aerial photo” of the meal to our husbands. I asked my husband if the kid’s “pails and shovels” were with the “pool toys” and we had a discussion about what constitutes an “amazing transformation”. I’m still giggling about it.
These are all great memories that I will treasure for years, but more than anything I will remember the people I met that day. From the fantastic producers whose only goal was to prepare us for success, to the incredible makeup crew who kept us all looking our best and my fellow contestants, who were always on my team, I was buoyed up by them all. I can never fully express my gratitude for their kindness and support. They made this experience. Thank you!
To all you future contestants out there, hop to it! Send in your video, attend the Wheelmobile events. Dreams happen-I held Pat Sajak’s hand during the Bonus Round and you can too! Best of luck!