Jenny O's Blog Post
Although watching TV was never a preferred activity as a child, I did become infatuated with game shows at a young age and my favorite has always been Wheel of Fortune. Growing up, watching Wheel of Fortune with my mom, grandma, and aunt was always a top priority. Now, as an adult, I find myself scheduling dinner, chores, and activities all around the ability to catch the show each night. Like many other “#1 Wheel of Fortune fans,” I dreamed of one day becoming a contestant on the show. It’s still hard to believe that my dream became a reality…
As soon as I was old enough, I applied to be on the show a couple of times by filling out the online application without success. In April of this year I received an email from my aunt informing me that the Wheel of Fortune auditions were going to be held in New York City. She believed that if I sent in a video it would increase my chances of getting noticed. Because of her encouragement I decided that I would go for it. So, with the help of my husband (and about 200 takes), I completed my videotape and submitted it! After a few weeks I received the GREAT news that I had been chosen to come to the audition in NYC and I was so excited. I attended the audition and then anxiously waited for a letter to determine if I was chosen. That letter did come and I was beyond ecstatic. During that same time period my husband Cliff and I purchased our 1st home and found out we were expecting our first child!! Big things were happening for us in 2016!
By the end of October I received the awesome news that it was time for me to book a flight and head to Los Angeles to live out my lifelong dream of playing the game for real. I flew out from New Jersey with my support team (mom Kathy, brother Casey, aunt Linda and cousin Laurie). The night before the taping I became so nervous I was contemplating backing out. I couldn’t sleep or stop thinking about everything that could go wrong on national television and I was totally freaking out. The morning of, however, I decided I had come too far to back down. Once I got on the shuttle with other contestants, I immediately became more comfortable and the day just got better and better from there. The entire experience from beginning to end was so much fun. The other contestants and I spent the morning getting to know each other, practicing, and reviewing game strategy. Everyone from the contestant crew to the hair and makeup ladies all the way to the sound technicians were some of the greatest people I have ever met. They made the day and Wheel experience unforgettable.
When I found out that my group of 3 was going to be first, the anxiety from the night before returned. It was now definitely too late to back down. I walked on stage, took my place, took about 10 deep breaths, and the next thing I knew Pat Sajak and Vanna White were walking toward me and the theme music was playing. It was go time.
I really cannot explain this, but it was almost as if the entire game was set up for my success. I missed the first Toss-Up puzzle, but the next one was GRANITE COUNTERTOPS. Prior to my appearance on the show I had been shopping for granite countertops- I couldn’t believe it! Toss-Up number 2 was mine! Next up, food and drink. There were so many letters on the board, I was so excited. I kept spinning and calling letters and my bank was growing and growing. I knew the entire puzzle but was stumped on the first word “candied.” At some point I hit the “Wild Card” feature during this round. Before coming to the show I promised myself that if I got the “Wild Card” I would hold onto it until the end because that extra consonant is everything when you make it to bonus land. However, I landed on $2,500 and I knew there was at least 2 L’s in the puzzle, which would give me an extra $5,000 if I turned it in. At this point I had no idea I would make it to bonus land, so I traded it in. Then the solution to the puzzle hit me and I solved the first puzzle- phew. Things were already looking great, but my luck continued. The wheel was on my side, I bought vowels every chance I had, and the puzzles continued to pop into my brain. It was hard to believe how much money and prizes I had accumulated in such a short amount of time. By the time of the “speed round” I was confident that I would be going to Bonus Land. Now, as exciting as this was, there was one problem- I had turned in the Wild Card! I could have kicked myself. Here I am, getting ready to head to Bonus Land and I could have been going in with the Wild Card. I was SO mad at myself. I allowed my game planning strategies to get away from me. Oh well, it was already gone and I knew I just had to try my best. I spun the Bonus Round wheel, took my place, and Pat looked over to me and said something along the lines of, “If history repeats itself you’re going to solve this with no problem.” This made me feel great, but I knew how hard those Bonus Puzzles could be. I called my letters, looked at the board, and I was immediately confused. “Bingo Party” fit into the slots, but I had never heard that term before. When the music began, I said “Bingo Party?” Then I vaguely remember hearing Pat say, “Yes.” I glanced over at him opening the card, spotted the $45,000 and knew I was about to get tackled by the most energetic, supportive, and amazing family members. Sure enough, I turned around, and they were already charging at me. I still think I am in the same shock I was at that very moment. Not only did my dream of being of Wheel of Fortune come true, I solved every single non Toss-Up puzzle, and solved the Bonus Round with the $45,000 wedge. Wow. At that moment I knew my guardian angel grandmother, Lorraine (who was truly Wheel’s #1 fan) was standing by my side the whole time.
The money that I won will be going toward home improvements and preparing for the real grand prize, my daughter’s arrival this spring. I want to end by saying thank you to the Wheel of Fortune team, Pat and Vanna, the other contestants I met for this once in a lifetime opportunity. To my amazing husband, family, and friends- thank you for believing in me!