Emily H's Blog Post
I grew up watching Wheel of Fortune and have always been a big fan of the show. From watching my grandmother, Ruby, solve the puzzles effortlessly when we’d watch together to playing the board game with my friend, Autumn, the show has always been special to me. That’s why when my friend, Erin, told me the Wheelmobile was coming to our town I knew I had to go with her to try out! While I didn’t get called onto the stage that day to audition, I was invited to audition a few months later. I felt pretty confident about how it all went but I never heard back from the show—until one year later when out of the blue I received a phone call with an invitation to be a contestant! When I heard the news I just couldn’t stop laughing and asking myself, “How is this real?!” But very soon it was quite real! My husband and I boarded a plane two weeks later, heading to Los Angeles!
The day of the taping was without a doubt one of the most fun and yet surreal days of my life! I’ll never forget the moment when I first walked onto the set and saw THE WHEEL, the Puzzleboard, the lights, everything; I couldn’t believe I was standing there looking at all of it in person! I also couldn’t believe that in just a few hours those cameras would be pointed at me and I’d be attempting to solve puzzles on national television! The nerves started to set in, and coupled with the pregnancy-related nausea and headache I was experiencing that day I had no idea how I’d ever get through those 30 minutes of taping—but at that point I also had no idea just what an incredible job the staff of the show would do in terms of prepping all of us for our big moment! The staff members were phenomenal. They reviewed all the rules and puzzle categories with us, sprinkled in helpful tips, taught us how to spin the Wheel (which turned out to be VERY heavy!), let us practice a few rounds on stage, helped us to all calm down, and most importantly—reminded us to soak up the moment and enjoy it! After the pep talks from the staff members and a few rounds of practicing on stage, my nerves miraculously went away. I couldn’t believe it! I had been so afraid I’d be overcome with nerves and completely freeze once the show started!
At last, though, the big moment had arrived and I found myself standing on stage, listening to the intro music play, and watching Pat and Vanna walk out arm in arm. That was also a moment I’ll never forget! I had to ask myself, “How am I here?! How is this happening??” But despite all the excitement and the bizarre feeling of standing up on stage, spinning the wheel, buying vowels, etc I was able to remain calm. I felt incredibly focused during the entire show and was just able to zero in on the puzzles and do my best to solve.
Going into the show I knew there would be many things beyond my control—the play by my fellow contestants, the dreaded “Bankrupt” and “Lose A Turn” wedges, and the difficulty of the puzzles themselves. That’s why I set a very modest goal for myself; I wanted to solve one puzzle and win about $3,000. Thus when I somehow found myself successfully solving the first regular puzzle I took a deep breath and breathed a huge sigh of relief! “I did it!! Now I can just relax as I play the rest of the game.” That helped tremendously. I ended up solving another puzzle (the Prize Puzzle, which came with a trip to Jamaica!) as well as the final Toss-Up puzzle. Towards the end of the game I started realizing there was a very good chance I would make it to the Bonus Round. I deliberately didn’t let myself dwell on that, though, or really even think about it; I was afraid my nerves would come back and get the best of me.
Sure enough, I did find myself in the Bonus Round, holding Pat’s hand as we walked to the spot on stage where I would attempt to solve, and calling out those hopefully magical 4 letters that would help me solve. While prepping for the show during the two weeks before the taping I had found that I’d gotten much better at solving the Bonus Round puzzles; this gave me some much-needed confidence going into this part of the show. I took a deep breath as Vanna revealed the letters, and about a second later I knew the answer! “RIGHT BEHIND YOU.” I waited for the countdown-clock music to come on and I calmly said the answer—which proved to be correct! I couldn’t believe that just happened!! Then Pat showed me the prize card I had drawn, which just said “SPIDER.” It took me a second to realize that was the red Fiat Spider convertible over in the corner of the stage. I just started laughing when I realized I had won that car! It had never occurred to me that it would even be a possibility; I’d seen the car on the stage but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would actually WIN that thing! Again—much laughing! My husband then ran out onto the stage, and we hugged and then ran over to the car to look at our prize! And from that point until at least about 3 days later I don’t think I stopped smiling!!
What an experience! Even though I’ve been watching the show for years I never actually dreamed I’d be a contestant, and I certainly never dreamed I would win cash, a trip, and a car! Even regardless of the prizes, though, I’m just so glad I went on the show. It was such a fun experience from beginning to end, everyone there was so welcoming and so nice (from the producers to the stage crew to Pat and Vanna), and it made for what is sure to be one of the most memorable days of my life!