Jeannine R's Blog Post
It was a damp and misty Friday in October 2016 in Northeast Ohio. The Wheelmobile had been advertised in the weeks leading up to this day as coming to the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield Park, and I toyed with the idea of going during that time to audition. When the day finally came my husband said he wanted me to have a chance of getting on the show and drove me up there. If it hadn’t have been for him, I wouldn’t have gone, but boy am I glad we did! We stood in line for about an hour and a half and were lucky to be waiting in the large durable tent instead of out in the cold drizzle. They had hot chocolate for us and every once in a while the hype man for Wheel came out and had us yell “Wheel of Fortune,” and I felt the excitement! We both filled out info cards that would become our entries in the large drum out of which the lovely hostess in Vanna’s role would draw names to participate in a round on stage, complete with a “Pat Chat.”
As we entered the auditorium there were a lot of people! The stage was donned with a letter board and vertical wheel as well as a screen on the side showing the goings-on on stage. The host in Pat’s role came out and they started drawing names in batches of six, for prospective contestants to come up on stage. I looked around and knew that I would have to get super lucky to get called, as there were easily over 1,000 people there. The energy level was high and there was a lot of clapping and cheering, an activity that I would soon learn was a hallmark of Wheel. Clapping is a way of life! As the rounds went on, my mind wandered briefly, and I was looking forward to using our $5 vouchers in the casino and exploring as we had never been there before. Then much to my surprise, my name was called! I jumped out of my seat and screamed with disbelief and glee, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I ran to the stage. The world class treatment started. They took my picture, verified who I was and briefed me on what would happen. I got on stage, did my Pat chat, complete with an impromptu toast by me, and played the round. I didn’t solve it, but got my Wheel of Fortune blinky pin, and mini-bag. I was so happy! They said that if it was good news I would get an email asking me to a second audition in Cleveland.
A few months went by, and every so often I thought, “I hope Wheel contacts me.” Toward the end of January 2017, Wheel emailed me for a second audition! I got the email as a passenger in the car with my hubby, Michael, driving. I screamed with glee! “Wheel wants me to come for a second audition! Woohoo!” I think he lost a little hearing that day. The day came quickly the next week. Michael drove me up to Cleveland. The afternoon was filled with many-a-puzzle and much clapping! There were about 200 prospectives there, and after the 5 minute quiz and a break, the producers chose about 25 of us to stay. I was hoping they would call my name, and sure enough they did! I was stoked! I did another “Pat chat” which I had rehearsed on the way and got to pretend I was spinning the wheel. We called letters, bought vowels and I made sure to say just the letter and use no superfluous language. It was a blast. Whatever happened after that I was just glad I had the experience. They said that if it was good news that I would hear in two weeks via snail mail.
Three weeks went by and nothing. I was a little disappointed but was willing to accept it. Then I got the letter! Woohoo! Celebrate! The letter said sometime in the next 18 months we want you on the show. Then I got another email very soon after that and they wanted me there in two weeks! We booked out flights and hotel and we were off to Culver City, CA! Sony Picture Studios here I come!
The day was so much fun! Wheel picked me and other contestants up in a Mercedes passenger van from the hotel bright and early! The first half of the day was spent preparing us for the taping. Everything from legal, to food, to hair and makeup, to spinning the famous Wheel! We drew numbered golf balls to choose in which order we would go, and I learned I was to be in the third position. Sweet! Vanna even came in to say hello to us 20 contestants and the whole room erupted. She is so sweet! She was in her jeans and a t-shirt and hair pulled back. She looked so cute, and she is such a sweetheart! My show would be taped after lunch and they let us watch the previous rounds from a special area in the audience. Even just to be at a Wheel taping was special, let alone be a contestant. Soon it was my turn to be on the big stage! I felt my tummy get a few butterflies, but I held it together. I was looking forward to meeting Pat on stage. Right out of the gate I thought I knew the puzzle and pressed my signaling device. Whoops! Wrong! That’s ok shake it off. I got the second Toss Up, and I knew I wouldn’t go home with the $1,000 minimum, so I was happy. Then I solved the crossword. Then there was a borage of Bankrupts and Lose a Turns only to end the unlucky streak with me landing on Express! I knew I was going for it! I kept calling letters until there was a word I wasn’t sure of. There were only two letters missing out of the puzzle. What could it be? I hear Pat in the background of my racing mind saying, “Don’t get buzzed out.” I eeked out the letter “M?” In a similar “eeking it out” tone Pat said, “Yeeees.” Then I knew the missing word was “dramatic.” I got the prize puzzle and soon learned I would be going on a European River cruise on the Blue Danube! A trip of a lifetime! This will be a much deserved trip for us, and we are looking forward to it every day! I made it to the bonus round, but didn’t get the puzzle. It was ok because I don’t use the word “handbag” much so I gave myself a pass on that one. I had an absolute blast and it was icing on the cake that I was the big winner that day.
The experience of Wheel of Fortune as a contestant has been a dream come true. The only thing I’ll miss is hearing Michael and my parents say, “You are so good at this game! You should go on the show!” I continue to be a lifelong fan and watch Wheel all the time! Every time I see the set on TV I think of my day there and can imagine it in my mind, and I truly cherish my time there. Every staff member is a true professional and so courteous and hospitable. It was beyond amazing. Thank you Wheel for choosing me!