Matthew L's Blog Post
Here’s the important stuff: Pat is wonderfully dry and witty, Vanna is lovely and engaging, and the Wheel is MUCH heavier than I imagined.
I tried to get on Wheel of Fortune 20 years ago when I had unlimited time on my hands, but eventually resigned that it would never happen. Cut to early 2017 when my wife and daughters threatened my life if I didn’t give it another go. We shot a video of me pleading my case while flanked by two very cute little co-stars and uploaded the video to WheelofFortune.com. I’m quite sure they are the reason I got the call.
I left the audition feeling certain that I hadn’t made the cut, since I was not asked to stick around for simulated games, but barely 24 hours later, I was invited to be a local alternate for the Great Cities: Chicago week. I had a 33% chance of actually filming an episode that day. I pulled the right ping pong ball out of a hat and suddenly my family is scrambling over the hill to Culver City to watch.
I was able hang out with 17 other contestants and watch 5 shows tape before it was my turn. Everyone gets some practice spins on the Wheel, which I thought would be easy to control and avoid bankrupts and such. Nope. Not even a little bit. Spinning the Wheel is all adrenaline and luck while you try to solve the puzzle or – bare minimum – not call a letter that has already been used.
When we started the show, I was most concerned about not messing up the interview. Overall, I had a strong start, winning the first three puzzles, but things quickly went downhill. No luck on the crossword, and then a bankrupt – just one click away from the million dollar wedge - cost me the coveted prize puzzle. I am no longer in the lead. I thought I won the final Toss-Up, but the buzzer doesn’t lie. I am down close to $7,000 and about to miss the Bonus Round. Pat gives a final spin for the last puzzle: “What are you doing?” Luck is on my side again, with a last second solve that barely snags the overall win for me. I’m pretty sure I blacked out for a solid minute after that.
Bonus Round – Pat always holds the ladies’ hands during the walk to the mark, so I ask for the same courtesy. He does so without hesitation. I love that man. Final Puzzle is Overcoming Obstacles, which feels quite appropriate. If I hadn’t asked for an “O” as my extra vowel, it wouldn’t have ended as well.
The whole experience is still kind of a wonderful blur. Everyone who helped guide the contestants before and during the show was outstanding. We were prepped for every possible scenario. The process could have been laborious if not for the energy and joy they brought to their jobs. I guarantee that the experience of being a contestant is worth the time and effort, so if you want to be on the show, go for it! And don’t give up!