Ashley T's Blog Post
January 22, 2014
Being on Wheel of Fortune was one of those dreams that I never thought would actually happen. This was a game that I started watching in elementary school with my grandmother. We watched religiously every day and I became quite good at solving the puzzles over the years.
I started randomly applying to be on the show in college. I applied online for years until one day I actually received a response! I was asked to submit a picture and short video. I shot my video a million times before I was satisfied that my love for the game was adequately displayed. Shortly after submitting my video I received another email stating that I was chosen to come and audition in my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. I was BEYOND excited! Was this really happening? Is this email legitimate? These were just a couple of the questions running through my mind.
The day of the audition I was excited, anxious, and a little nervous. We played a few simulated Wheel of Fortune games and then took a short written puzzle solving quiz. After this part of the audition about half of the room was asked to remain for the second part of the audition. Once again I was jumping for joy on the inside, trying to contain myself since there was still a part two to the audition. We played more simulated Wheel of Fortune games and the contestant coordinators told us that if we were chosen we would receive a letter in mail within two weeks. Now the waiting game began. I am quite literal, sometimes to a fault. I auditioned on a Wednesday and nervously checked my mail EVERYDAY (even Sundays when the mail isn’t delivered…just in case).
Exactly two weeks from my Wednesday audition I hadn’t received a letter so I assumed I hadn’t been chosen and my dream was deferred. However, that Friday (2 weeks and 2 days after my audition) I checked my mail as normal and to my surprise there was a letter from WHEEL OF FORTUNE!! I opened the letter and immediately began jumping around my house screaming. They chose me! I was going to be on Wheel of Fortune!! I placed this letter on my dining room table and that is where it stayed as I patiently waited to receive my tape date.
Several months later, I received that long awaited email/call that I had been assigned a tape date! Up until that day I had made it a point to ensure that I was home in time to watch the show as many days as possible and keep my puzzle solving skills fresh. I was so ready! It was time to head to LA and I was thoroughly packed. At least I thought I was. On the way to the airport I realized I left my cell phone at home and had to go back home to retrieve it. Luckily I was only about 10 minutes away from my house. I finally made it to the airport only to realize that I left my “buddy pass” at home (the equivalent to my airline ticket!). Now, I had to go all the way back home AGAIN and try to make it back in time to catch my flight. I went back home and made it back to the airport in time. Whew! A few hours later my mom and I made it to LA and then the real fun began! Make sure you watch me on Wednesday, January 22nd to see how much fun I had!
January 23, 2014
The day that I had patiently anticipated was finally here. It was tape day! I woke up that morning excited and ready to get the day started. I headed down to the lobby of my hotel where I encountered many of the other contestants. We greeted one another and even took a few group photos. My mother is a photographer and loves to photographically document major events in life, which of course included me being on Wheel of Fortune. There was a van that took the contestants to the studio that morning and once we entered the Sony Studios gates my memorable, fun-filled day began! We were briefed on all the rules of the game, potential prizes, how the game flows, continually told to speak loud and clear, and of course SMILE.
The room was filled with snacks and beverages for us while we each got our make-up and hair touched up so that we would be camera ready. We then went out to the very cold studio to see the set, get a few practice spins in, get a feel for where the puzzles, score board, and used letter boards are situated, and run through a practice game. The entire time I just kept thinking “This is so cool!” The wheel was much smaller than I anticipated but also much heavier. Being a very tall 5 feet 1 inch, I had a slight fear that I might reach over for the wheel and subsequently fall over onto it. Luckily the stage is equipped with magical stairs that adjust for those in my height bracket and I was able to reach and spin the wheel without incident. The studio was decorated with palm trees, beach balls, and other “fun in the sun” items in conjunction with our theme week, Leave Winter Behind. Being from the Windy City, Chicago, Illinois, leaving winter behind sounded great to me.
The morning prep went by quickly and it was finally time to begin taping the shows. I was on show number 3. The first two shows began and ended and it was finally time for me to play the game that I had watched for years. We were placed on the stage in our assigned spaces and grabbed our buzzers to get ready for the first toss-up puzzle. I had so many thoughts running through my mind. Remember to smile, focus, buy vowels, don’t forget what the category is, make smart letter choices, keep the game moving, don’t call a letter that has already been called, and for goodness sake please solve a puzzle!
The first toss-up started and after a few letters were revealed I knew it! I buzzed in and got it correct! I actually got a puzzle! We soon after took our buzzers for the next toss-up. I buzzed in and got this one correct too! At this point my nerves were calmed a little and I thought to myself that this isn’t so bad, so far so good. I went on to win two other puzzles including the coveted prize puzzle and won a trip to St. Croix! My total cash and prizes was enough to send me to the bonus round! Was this really happening?
Everything moved so quickly and before I knew it I was spinning the mini wheel in the bonus round. Pat and I were positioned in front of the board, I chose my letters, and my 10 seconds began. At first I had no idea what the second word was but all of a sudden, it just came to me, ECONOMY SIZE! That was it! I guessed the bonus puzzle correctly! Pat opens the prize envelope and $30,000 was inside! Unbelievable experience! Not only did I get an opportunity to play a game that I’ve watched and loved for many years but I made it to the bonus round and won. I’m going to St. Croix for some fun in the sun and get to pay off some student loan debt. I also foresee a little shopping in my future . It was an absolutely amazing and fun-filled day.