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Jason Cohen - Wheel of Fortune Contestant - Season 41 Jason C.

I found out I made Wheel of Fortune on a Friday night when I was watching the show with my son in bed, while my wife and daughters were still at a dance competition. I looked at my phone as I normally do checking emails periodically (ok very often as my phone seems to have a magnetic connection with my hand!), and there it was - an email from the contestant department indicating that I was selected! Like most emails I receive these days, at first I was unsure about the legitimacy of the email and thought it was spam - but then I recognized the names from last year and quickly started to realize that it was the real deal. The first call I made was to my wife, asking her to sit down (she was already seated at the dance competition) to let her know of the great news - the next question was, should we go? Before I could ask the question, my wife said, "YES" (similar to the way she responded when I asked her to marry me almost 20 years ago), and then the fun planning and preparation begin.

The preparation technically was years in the making already, as I've been watching Wheel of Fortune ever since I was my kids' age, with my parents and grandma. But now that I was going to have a chance of playing on the show, my family and I stepped it up several notches - nonstop time practicing on the Wheel of Fortune website, reading through the tips and tricks that were provided by the contestant department in advance of the taping, going back to old shows (even the ones back when I was younger that you can find on YouTube when contestants use their cash winnings to buy specific prizes), reading the blogs on the website, just to name a few. 

There was so much I learned through this experience, most importantly to have fun (was there anything funnier and more entertaining than the Celebrity Wheel of Fortune episode with Jack Black?! I think I've watched that episode 10 times and just admire everything he and the other two awesome contestants did during those 2 shows!) and enjoy the moment, as many warned that it would go by very quickly (and it did!). No different than the time I put into preparing for work presentations, meetings and panel discussions at events, I worked very hard to prepare myself mentally and physically for this day, spending hours rehearsing what I would say when Pat conducted his welcome and intros, solving puzzles and multi-tasking various decisions that need to be made when playing the game. I realized that this type of preparation was different though as I would be competing with 2 other contestants who were either as smart or smarter than me! I knew that I would have to take gambles, stay focused and have lots of luck along the way.

The third puzzle, the one after the first two toss ups, was the biggest surprise for me, as I had control the entire time (there was some force in that moment that said, "Jason, you are not going to hit a Bankrupt or Lose a Turn that round!", and knew most of the words, but there was one word that I couldn't make out. Now if I was in the comforts of my own home, I would have solved it no problem, but when you are actually the contestant on the show and playing the game, and having an out of body experience like I did, all bets were off! Of course, the bonus round was a surprise as there was one letter that would have made it obvious, though I still think the first word should have been different :)!

I certainly wanted to tell my family and friends leading up to the show taping and when it eventually airs, but more so wanted to keep the integrity of the show, not to mention all the legal documents I signed saying I wouldn't say a word. I think I'll wait until the week before the airing to let my family and friends know I will be on the show, and that's all they'll know until the watch. We're going to have a watch party at our house, after all it's going to be on Primetime on a Friday! I was thinking of ordering a Wheel of Fortune blazer if I can find one, and maybe some Wheel of Fortune decorations. In all honesty, I am quite nervous to watch the show, as I still to this day don't remember a lot of what transpired during the taping. Every day, bits and pieces come back - but I do know that I gave it my all and I had so much fun along the way!

Being part of Wheel of Fortune was like making the Super Bowl of game shows for me, and the culmination of lots of hard work, preparation, positive energy, luck and the fulfillment of a life-long dream to make it to Hollywood! I've secretly always wanted to be on the big screen, and who knows, maybe this will be the start of something bigger - watch out Jim (Thornton) :)...