Carrie T's Blog Post
Like many contestants, my earliest memories of Wheel of Fortune are watching with my Grandmother. In those days, contestants would spend their earnings in the show’s store. It seemed like everyone went home with the ceramic Dalmatian statue. While a lot of details have changed, my love of the show hasn’t. If anything, it has grown, as I now watch daily with my toddler.
When we found out the Wheelmobile was coming to Faneuil Hall in Boston, my husband said, “You have to try out!!!” So, on a Saturday in October, the three of us took a trip in town. When we arrived, we learned that aspiring contestants could enter their names in a raffle for a chance to tryout. We both entered the first round of the day. As we watched, several groups were called to the stage for a “mock” game in which they were asked to introduce themselves and play a modified round of Wheel. Every time new names were chosen, I stood a bit taller in anticipation and with hopes of getting a glimpse of the announcer. At under 5 feet in a large crowd, viewing can be a challenge. As the first round of tryouts was nearing its close, my husband lined up to get our entry forms for the second round raffle. My son squirmed in the stroller, and I fixed him a bottle. After he had taken a few sips, I heard my name. He was more startled than I, as I scrambled to announce my presence and navigate his stroller through the crowd. That was my first lucky break!
With round one auditions behind me, it was a waiting game. Even though more than 3 months had gone by, I still had a good feeling about my chances. In late January, the news came by email. I had a second round audition at a local hotel. Upon arriving, I encountered nearly 100 other hopefuls and was reminded of Wheel’s popularity. We had a great time playing for souvenir prizes. The amazing contestant search team coached us to call our letters confidently in a big voice, something that would be emphasized at show time too. That day was a gift, as since having my son, I had not taken much Mommy time. What theme week would I be interested in participating in? Boston Week, Teachers’ Week, Pet Lover’s Week- my final answer, any week! More waiting and another email- “Dear future Wheel of Fortune contestant.” Was it spam or was it real? More details followed- it must be real!!!
The day of the filming arrived, and I headed to the lobby of the hotel a few minutes early to wait for the shuttle bus to the studio. As I stood there with my alternate outfit on hangers, a gentleman approached and said, “I think you missed your bus. It just left and my daughter was on it.” I froze, but my husband dashed out the door
and chased the bus to a stoplight. I climbed onto the nearly full mini-bus, hoping that would be the hardest part of the day.
Upon arriving at the studio, the contestants for the day’s filmings were prepped on expectations and rules. Vanna stopped by to introduce herself. Her genuine warmth calmed all our nerves. I was paired with my co-contestants. Through a drawing, we earned the second episode of the day. What a relief! We could watch another group go first, have our turn, and relax.
It was our turn. Pat and Vanna glided on set. Then it began. With the driest mouth ever, I managed to do my introduction. Goal one met! I set my sights on earning enough money to cover the trip to LA. For me, the turning point in the game was calling a “T” in a prize puzzle with 8 T’s. For a split second, I entertained the thought of another spin, but fearing bankruptcy, I solved: “It Doesn’t Get Better Than That.” The safe play resulted in a luxurious trip to Maui. (Alooooohaaaa!) My luck, or divine intervention, continued and with four letters revealed, I solved a Toss-Up, “Spongebob Squarepants.” I could swear Pat chuckled. It is great to see how much he still enjoys his job! In what felt like a blink, I was holding his hand and walking to my mark for the Bonus Round. The puzzle appeared and after R,S,T,L,N,E were placed, I thought I knew it. I added a few letters, and hedged against a possible error by picking an H (common letter). The clock started and after a calming breath, I carefully called out the solution. My husband and cousins rushed on stage to celebrate. In that moment, I felt especially grateful for the support I received from my entire family throughout this journey! At the same time, I felt humbled by the kindness of my co-players and all the contestants in my group. If any of you are reading this, I am so glad we had the chance to spend the day together!
To anyone considering trying out, go for it! Enjoy every step in the process. Try and if needed, try again. Remember, there’s a reason the show is called Wheel of Fortune.