Dorothy F's Blog Post
Monday, September 16th, 2013
As a child I grew up watching Wheel of Fortune with my family in the small town of Double Springs, AL. I would always try to solve the puzzles and I would get mad when my parents beat me. Oh how the tables have turned now!
My Wheel of Fortune experience started in May of 2012. I had just graduated from college and was applying for jobs. I had been to a few interviews with no luck and decided I would sign up to be on Wheel of Fortune. I didn’t hear anything for about six months and thought “Oh well, I will just apply again.” I mean, if I applied enough they couldn’t ignore me, right?
It wasn’t until June of 2013 that my dream of being on Wheel of Fortune took off. I had started a good job and was going in the direction I wanted too when, out of nowhere, I received an email from the show! The email stated that they were having an audition in Atlanta, GA and wanted me to submit a “Face of the Fan” video for the producers to view. I tried and tried to tape a good video telling why I should be on Wheel of Fortune but it was in vain. Finally I enlisted the help of my mom. After what seemed like one thousand takes we finally had the video…then it would not upload onto the site. I was panicking. We decided to re-tape the video using my camera instead of my phone. Luckily I got the video perfect on the first try and it uploaded. Just a few days later I received another email asking me to come to the audition. I was pumped!
The day of the audition my boyfriend and I traveled to Atlanta. I was nervous and excited at the same time. When I got into the audition room the experience was like nothing I had ever been through. The contestant coordinators made us feel right at home. During the first round of auditions I solved a puzzle and won a t-shirt! Then it was time for a written quiz. I thought I did awful until I talked to the other people during the break and found out how hard they thought it was too. After the break I was getting nervous hoping they would call my name saying I made it past “the cut.” Finally my name was called and I was relieved. I finished the audition and went home. Now it was time for the waiting game.
It was June 22, 2013, the day of my sister’s wedding. My boyfriend and I were headed back to my parent’s house and we stopped to check the mail. I was flipping through the papers when I saw a letter with my name on it…from Wheel of Fortune! I screamed so load I think I busted my boyfriend’s eardrum. I started shaking the letter in his face and screaming, “I am going to be on Wheel of Fortune”. We were so excited and I couldn’t wait to tell my family. They were just as excited as I was. I thought it would be months before I got the call that my show was going to tape. If only I knew how wrong I was. Three short weeks later my phone buzzed that I had an email. I was busy at work so I ignored it until break time. I wish I had ignored it all day because as soon as I saw that Wheel of Fortune had a tape date for me that was it. I was so excited I couldn’t concentrate the rest of the day. To make it even better, I was going to be on the Season 31 Premiere Week at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada (“Venetian Week”). I called my mom and asked her if she wanted to go to Vegas. She asked me why and I told her tape my episode. She didn’t know what I was talking about and then I said “Wheel of Fortune”. She was so excited but there was one problem…my mom is terrified of flying. She agreed to go this one time. As it turned out plane tickets were going to be about $600 each. I saw my mom the next day and we were talking about it. She looked at me and said road trip…and our decision was made (to my mom’s relief). We called my two sisters and asked them if they wanted to go and that was it. The plan was in place. We made out our itinerary and got hotel reservations and everything was set.
On Wednesday, July 24th we set out on our 1,800-mile trek across the United States. We arrived in Las Vegas Friday afternoon and got settled into our hotel. At this point I don’t think my nerves had set in yet. I felt so calm, almost as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. The next morning my mom and sister went down to the food court to get me a good luck chicken biscuit (my favorite breakfast) while my other sister helped me get ready for the show. On our way to the contestant meeting spot in The Venetian, I stopped and put a dollar bill in the Wheel of Fortune slot machine and spun it one time for good luck. I didn’t win anything. I hoped my luck would be coming later in the day. My family dropped me off at the meeting spot at 8:45, and that was it. The whirlwind was about to begin. The contestant coordinators called roll to make sure everyone was there and then they took us back to start our day. We had fruit and bagels to snack on while we filled out our paper work and got our hair and make-up touched up. We got the opportunity to go out on the set and practice spinning the wheel. Let me just say…I think I pulled a muscle spinning the wheel it was so heavy. The set was awesome…there was a car spinning around to the side of the wheel (which I assumed was a bonus round prize) and slot machines to the other side. There were lights and cameras and monitors everywhere. I have to admit it was a little overwhelming. We had lunch, took pictures, and made short videos to advertise ourselves on Wheel of Fortune. Then it was game time! We drew to see which episode we would be on and my group drew episode 3. I drew for the middle spot and then we were escorted to the set. There were people everywhere. The audience was excited and I just looked straight ahead trying to ignore it all so I didn’t get nervous. It seemed as if the two shows that taped before me drug on and on. I sat there solving puzzles in my head and watching people win money and trips and all I could think was please let it be my turn…and then it was!!! Hopefully I don’t embarrass myself too much. Watch my show on Wednesday, September 18th to find out!
Thursday, September 19th, 2013
It was finally my turn! They called my group off of the set to get our microphones on, and then we were on stage. We practiced spinning the wheel a couple of times and then they told us to get ready. The next thing I knew Pat and Vanna were walking out on the set and the camera was rolling. Pat told us it was time for the first toss-up and I grabbed my buzzer. The letters started dinging and all of the sudden I knew the puzzle. I buzzed in and solved the puzzle.
I was so happy that I had won, even if it was only the thousand-dollar puzzle. I told Pat about my job and thanked my supervisors for letting me have time off of work for the show. Then I told him the story about watching the show as a child and my sister always wanting everyone to call a “W,” so hopefully I could call one for her. It’s funny how this played out in the end. After the two other contestants told about themselves it was time for the second Toss-Up. The letters were dinging again, but I didn’t know the puzzle. I finally figured it out and luckily it wasn’t too late. I was the first to buzz in and again I solved the puzzle. I had been nervous because the toss-ups are what I struggle with at home, but after I solved the first two I was in game mode. Now it was time for the first round and I was first up to spin. I landed on a trip to Hawaii and the Wild Card. I just kept spinning trying to fill in the letters of the puzzle and finally I knew it. I solved the puzzle and I was going to Hawaii!!! I was so excited and my mom said I hit Pat in the head with my Hawaii wedge (sorry Pat).
Then it was time for the mystery round. I didn’t get to start the puzzle but it quickly came around to me. This is when I messed up! I was trying to fill in the letters to the words that I knew and for a split second I got distracted. I was looking at the puzzle instead of the used letter board when Pat asked me what letter I wanted…I was staring at the L in the word “only”. I knew I wanted to call a Y but my brain and my mouth did not cooperate and I said L. I knew before Pat said anything that I had messed up. I just remember telling myself to keep smiling it was no big deal and as it turns out it wasn’t. The puzzle came back to me and at some point I landed on the ½ car and picked it up. I wanted to solve the puzzle but I didn’t know what the last word was. I kept spinning trying to fill in the letters. Then I landed on the mystery wedge. I knew I wasn’t risking my wild card, ½ car, and over $3,000 so I immediately spun again. Then I hit bankrupt. I remember thinking I should have went for the Mystery Wedge after all. Another contestant ended up solving the puzzle and I was happy that she won something since I already had. It was then time for the prize puzzle and the new express round. I landed on ½ car again and again I hit bankrupt (I guess it wasn’t meant for me to win a car…or was it?). It came back around to my turn and I knew everything except the last word. Luckily I called an M and I knew the puzzle. I solved it and I was going to Panama!!! I couldn’t believe it. Two trips and cash…what more could I want? The third toss up came around and I didn’t know what it was until the other contestant had solved it. Then the final spin came. I called a letter when it was my turn but had no idea what the puzzle was. Then it was my turn to call another letter. I called an R and all of the sudden I knew it “Roaring Mountain Lions”!
The next thing I knew Pat was congratulating me and telling me I was going to the Bonus Round. During the break I practiced spinning the Bonus Round Wheel. I do have to say it was much friendlier on my arms. Then one of the crew asked me if it was ok for Pat to hold my hand as we walked to the puzzle. I said, “Of course Pat Sajak can hold my hand.” We laughed and then it was time. I was so nervous. I spun the wheel and handed the card to Pat, and then we walked over to my spot on the set. I introduced my mom, Sharon, and my two sisters, Megan and Amber. Then it was time to get to work on the puzzle. The category was thing and this is what I saw pop up _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ . Pat called for RSTLNE and then I had this _ _ LL S_ _ E. The first thing that came to mind was “FALL SALE” so I called an F. then I realized there was no L for SALE so I changed my strategy. I had always said I would call ABCD so I filled in the rest of the letters accordingly. When all was said and done I had _ ALL SAFE. I knew the puzzle!!! I was so excited. I started bouncing and Pat didn’t even start the timer. I yelled out WALL SAFE and asked him what I won. He teased me then opened the card to show me the 2014 Chevy Camaro. I guess it was meant for me to win a car after all.
As my family ran on stage I noticed my mom wiping away tears and we were hugging and running over to my car. The whole time I was wondering if this was real. I got into the car and waved and I couldn’t stop smiling. I ended up winning around $18,000, two trips, and a car. It was more than I ever thought and I feel really blessed.
After the show I was talking to Pat and Vanna and they pointed out that I had filled in the bonus round puzzle with every letter but the W, which went back to my story about my sister. I couldn’t help but think it was kind of like fate. After my show was over, the show was taking a dinner break so we decided to leave. As I was leaving I had people from the audience come up to me and congratulate me and I took pictures with them. I felt like a movie star for a few minutes. The whole experience was just overwhelming. As for my winnings…the cash will be enough to pay the federal taxes on all of my prizes so I am happy about that. My boyfriend and I will be enjoying at least one of the vacations together if not both, and I haven’t decided what to do about my car seeing as I just purchased one about 4 months ago. I am just honored that I got the experience and I would love to go on the show again (not too sure if that can or will happen though). On the way home we were able to stop at the Hoover Dam and then we saw the sun set at the Grand Canyon. Overall my road trip to Vegas and my Wheel of Fortune experience was priceless. The only thing that would have made it more perfect is if my dad and boyfriend could have been there too. Thank you to everyone who supported me along the way and thank you Wheel of Fortune for making one of my dreams a reality!