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Laura Young Wheel of Fortune Contestant Laura Y.

Wheel of Fortune has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have always loved games, loved this show and dreamed that one day I would be able to be a contestant.  In April 2022 I finally decided it was my time and I sent in a video application.  In April 2023 I received the email to virtually audition. I am not sure I have even been so excited for a Zoom call in my life! That is until early February 2024, when I got the email that I had a tape date!  I am not often speechless, but as I sat reading my email on that Saturday morning I was at a complete loss for words.  A TAPE DATE!! AT WHEEL OF FORTUNE!! IN LA!! WHAT!?!!!  My family had to read and re-read the email with me to make sure I read it right and didn’t miss any of the important information. Wow! This is real!! I think they could hear my excited screams at least 2 states away!  

A lot goes into getting ready to be a contestant on Wheel. You’re going to be on national TV and need to look and feel your best! A haircut, nail appointment, some sessions at the gym and shopping trips are all necessary!  And practicing. LOTS and LOTS of practicing!  Watching Wheel (and Jeopardy) is a nightly occurrence in my house, but now we watched 3, 4, 5 or more episodes a night. I played the app every spare second I had. I read all the articles that were emailed, and a few that I found online. This is my shot, and I will be ready!

The best days start early and filming day was no exception! I arrived at the Sony Studio set a little before 6:45am and was greeted by 17 other equally excited contestants, all here to make their dreams come true!  I had no idea what to expect, and everything exceeded my expectations. Seeing the Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy signs outside on the lot is overwhelming incredible, exciting, and just the beginning!!bWe started our morning on the Jeopardy stage and that’s when it really started to sink in.  This is really real.  Lawyers, paperwork, producers, information videos, and a visit from Vanna!  Holy Moly, I am really going to be a contestant Wheel of Fortune!  After hair and makeup (thank you!!) we ventured across the hall to the Wheel studio to practice and prep.    

Stepping onto the Wheel of Fortune stage for the first time is amazing.  Standing up and spinning the wheel for the first time is dreamy. All the practicing in the world doesn’t fully prepare you for standing on that stage and playing, but thankfully the production team does! I don’t have enough good words to say about the production team. They are a huge part of the experience, and I am so grateful for their encouragement, tips, and all preparation that they provided. Standing at the Wheel for the first time, spinning, calling out letters, working on Pat Chats, is surreal, but they kept me grounded and focused. They reminded and encouraged me to be authentic, and to soak it all up. We’re here to play and have fun and they made sure I was prepared to do both of those things.

After practice we went back to the Jeopardy stage and were informed of our groups of 3 for the real deal game.  Hearing my name called was the biggest sigh of relief, and a huge excitement.  I’m IN!!  My show was the 4th episode of the day and I stood in spot #3, the blue spot. My favorite color at my favorite game.  It just keeps getting better! HOOOOORRRAAAYYYYY!!!    

Filming my show was so much fun, and it went by so fast! I feel like I had every type of experience throughout my game!  I solved a toss up and thought I had the 2nd one but someone beat me to it. At one point I guessed a wrong letter and before the next person could even spin I knew the solution. Imagine my surprise when that puzzle came back to me and I got to solve it!  I think I could hear the gasps in the audience when I said I'd like to solve the Prize Puzzle with very few letters showing.The puzzle was "Accentuate the Positive" and although I never mentioned it to the production team, if there is one word I would use to describe myself it is Positive.  My excitement at seeing, and figuring out that puzzle was beyond anything I could imagine. To get to solve a puzzle that is so ME, and to win a trip to Hawaii on top of it, was unbelievable. I got to spin for the final puzzle and once again had it solved as soon as I called the wrong letter.  I was hopeful it would make it around to me again, but no such luck. Thats, OK, we all deserve to win and I am so happy that we were able to spread the wealth around!  I made it to Bonusland and got to have my family down on the stage.   Even though I didn't solve my final puzzle, I still know that I won. Just being on that stage is winning.

We filmed 5 episodes on my filming day and we got to watch all the episodes get filmed. Sitting in the audience watching my new friends play their games was almost as much fun as playing my own game. Its crazy to be surrounded by other people that love and play the game as much as I do! I had so much fun cheering them on, holding my breath while they spun and celebrating every puzzle and win!  I can’t wait to watch them all on TV and relive all their fun.

If there is anything Wheel has taught me it is that the magic is real, and I need to patient to get to experience it. For 2 years I wondered if I’d even be on the show, waiting for an email from Wheel of Fortune, knowing how many thousands of people would love a shot to play the best game show on Earth. Its hard to be patient, but applying was the best thing I have done and totally worth the wait. I got to meet and talk to Pat and Vanna! Alex, Shannon, Lauren, Jimmy, Victor, Fingers and so many amazing producers and people who work on my favorite show made this experience incredible.  My family got to sit in the audience and watch how the magic is made.  We got the full experience from Toss Ups to Bonusland, and even though I didn’t win my final puzzle, I played hard and had an amazing time!  We all got the experience of a lifetime, and my family got to watch my dream come true.  And even though it's hard to wait the 7 weeks until my episode airs, its worth it.  I want to tell my friends and family everything.  But I can’t, and I won’t.  I don’t want to spoil excitement of watching the show air.  I want them to feel how I felt, incredibly excited and grateful. I cant wait for my watch party to watch and relive these moments over and over again!