Bethany P's Blog Post
Growing up, my family often had Wheel of Fortune on in the evenings. However, this past summer was when Wheel of Fortune turned into an intense competition as our family would race to see who could solve the puzzle first. (There might have even been some trash talking involved…) My dad and I were the most competitive, and he is the one who encouraged me to apply online to be a contestant- I’m so thankful he did! I completed the application and submitted a short video telling about myself and why I wanted to be on Wheel. In December I got an email about a group audition in Nashville, so I drove up there with my mom right before my final exams. Two weeks after that, I got a letter in the mail saying I had been accepted as a contestant, and then the waiting game began to find out when I would film my episode.
In February I was contacted and flew to Los Angeles with my dad to film my show. I was able to represent the University of Alabama for College Spring Break Week. After arriving at the studio, we went over the rules, filmed promos, and had a rehearsal. The people who worked at Sony Studios made the experience phenomenal. Teddy, Jackie, Alex, and Shannon with the contestant department were so incredibly helpful and kind throughout the entire process. They helped a big group of nervous college kids feel a lot more comfortable and prepared to stand behind the wheel.
I was on the fifth episode that was filmed that day with students from Vanderbilt University and Clark Atlanta University. We were all excited and supportive which made the show so much more fun. I was nervous about the interview with Pat, but he is great about guiding that part and helping it go smoothly. After that I was totally zoned into the game and just tried to enjoy myself. My very first spin of the wheel landed on bankrupt, but I was able to come back and solve the crossword puzzle! I was happy that I had won at least enough to cover travel expenses and everything after that was just a bonus. The wheel gave me more trouble for a while after that. I spun Lose A Turn and Bankrupt again, but I did buzz in and solve the third Toss-Up Puzzle of the game which was “The Catcher in the Rye.” My dad later told me that he was impressed I buzzed in so fast and originally thought I had accidently hit the button- thanks, Dad. I was still in third place even with my Toss-Up win, but I got to spin first for the next puzzle. This time the wheel was much kinder to me as I eventually landed on the $5,000 wedge. I called “N” and there were 4 of them! I solved that puzzle, and my total was now over $27,000. I could not believe it- and still can’t believe it now. The crew had told us all morning that the game isn’t over until the last puzzle is done, and boy are they right. Before I knew it, I was headed to the bonus round.
Before the Bonus Round, they give you a run down of how it will go and teach you the best technique for spinning the smaller wheel. I was most excited that upon going to the Bonus Round I would have the chance to introduce my dad who was in the audience. Pat also spoke to me and said that no matter what happens, I was already going home with a great total! They began rolling the cameras and we were off. I introduced my dad, spun the wheel, and walked over with Pat to get ready to attempt to solve my chosen puzzle category of “What Are You Doing?” I called my letters, and the ten seconds started dwindling down. I knew the first word was “ACTING,” but I was having trouble with the second word, which was “G_ _ _ _.” Time was winding down quickly, but I was more focused on thinking through what that second word could possibly be. The ten seconds were almost up, but suddenly it hit me. “Acting…..goofy..?” I saw Vanna begin to clap, and that’s when I knew: I had done it. With one tenth of a second left on the clock, I had managed to solve the puzzle! I was in shock. Pat opened the envelope and I had won the car! I turned around to go give my dad a hug and we rushed over to the Volkswagen. I don’t think anyone could have wiped the smile off my face (or my dad’s face) even if they tried. Pat and Vanna were both so genuinely happy for me as well. All I could keep saying was “I can’t believe this!”
One of my favorite memories was standing just off the edge of the stage right after I had won. A crew member said to me “Nick Saban would be proud.” What. A. Compliment. Roll Tide!
My experience on Wheel of Fortune was one that I will remember forever. I want to give a big thank you to the other college students, contestant department, make-up artists, hair stylist, producers, Pat, Vanna, Jim Thornton, and everyone else who works with the show for making the whole day so enjoyable and unforgettable!