Matt E's Blog Post
We all grow up with items on our bucket list. I am very fortunate to be able to cross an item off mine: Being a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. I always enjoyed puzzles growing up and so I was drawn each night to Wheel of Fortune. Being able to solve puzzles and get paid for it! That’s a dream right there. I remember my dad always saying “You should go on that show” after I’d get the toss-ups before the contestants on TV. So I made it my goal to get on.
About 10 years ago, I went to a Wheelmobile event at a Mathis Brothers in Ontario, California. I thought “This is my shot” if I could just get on stage, but it wasn’t meant to be at that time. There were thousands of people there, but it was a great atmosphere and I’m glad I went to just be a part of it. I would enter my application info online every so often, got a Spin ID and just hoped somehow, I would get on. Time went by and I’d check every so often and then January 2018 I decided to check again to apply. This was the beginning of my Wheel Adventure.
They wanted an audition video this time. I had to give it another shot so I created one. I made a short video stating how I’d love to be on the show and even threw in a couple one-liners like “I eat vowels for breakfast”. After about 10 takes and 1 cute audition video my daughter made, I submitted it online with my info. Little did I know, about a month later that I would receive an email to audition for the show. I was stoked! I couldn’t believe I had a shot to make it. I went to the audition and met other hopeful people. We spent a few hours solving puzzles and taking a written test and then were told we would hear in two weeks if we were going to be on. After a long two weeks (and a couple days), I got a text from my wife showing me a picture of the letter with Wheel of Fortune on it when it came in the mail that day. My dreams were coming true.
It took about a year, but I was at work one day when I saw a number call my cell phone showing it was from Culver City. Could it be? I let it go to voicemail and sure enough it was Wheel calling to have me come in to play the game. It was finally happening, and it was an exciting and anxious two weeks, but it was well worth it as I made it to the day of the show.
We got to the studio and were greeted by four amazing contestant coordinators who made us feel welcome and prepared us for the day. Wheel tapes six shows a day and my group drew number 6 so I knew it would be a long day. We went over everything from legal matters to makeup to the puzzles themselves. Vanna even popped in for a minute to wish us good luck and she looked just as pretty without makeup. It was time to head out to the wheel and rehearse before our shows. Seeing the wheel and the board in person was surreal and being able to finally spin it was awesome. It was time for the actual shows to start.
I sat in the audience with the other contestants as each show went by and our group dwindled. Finally, it was time for me to get on stage. I looked into the crowd and saw my wife and parents as they had been there for the tapings in the audience most of the day too. The music started, and Pat and Vanna came out and it was time for the first toss-up. Having done so well on them at home, I got nervous when I didn’t get the first one, but as the show went on I got into my element. Pat was right on cue with his dad joke after I gave mine during the introductions. I was able to solve the puzzles and the tossups as I had prepared for all those years watching. How I got “Everybody’s a Winner” from two NNs and one S is still amazing to me, but it just fit. Even Pat gave me the “Are you serious” look when I solved it.
Making it to the Bonus Round and being able to stand there and talk with Pat for a little bit was priceless. He’s such a cool person and made me feel at home. Being so close to solving the puzzle (I have no idea where paving came from) and not getting it was tough and then seeing the $100,000 card out of the corner of my eye was unbelievable, but I seriously had such a great day that I was happy with what I had won and with the memories (and other prizes) I was able to leave with. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I was one of the few that was able to live it.
Looking back on the experience, I wouldn’t change any of it for a second. It was a long journey, but it was well worth the trip. I’m grateful for the people that got me there and believed in me (family and friends) and the people at the show (the amazing contestants coordinators, the crew and staff, my fellow contestants, and of course Pat and Vanna) for giving me an experience that Ill never forget. So if you are thinking about sending in a video or going to an event: DO IT! 45 seconds can turn into an opportunity of a lifetime.