Steven D's Blog Post
My earliest television memory is watching "Wheel of Fortune." I'm secure enough to exclude the clause, "with my grandparents," and admit I made them watch with me. Being a contestant on the show has always been my No. #1 most unlikely goal, but I never had the confidence to audition. I’m just a normal guy and don’t have footage of myself doing back-flips or wrestling alligators over a bed of hot coals. I believed this would put me at a competitive casting disadvantage among thousands with online submissions reflecting their more action-packed lives.
When I learned of the Wheelmobile’s pit stop in downtown Cleveland, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I honestly never imagined four months later, I would find a letter congratulating me for being a future contestant under a pizza coupon in my mailbox. I couldn’t believe I had secured a one-in-three shot at my most far-fetched dream. Cash, prizes, and vacations are great, but my sights were set on the glory: earning the title, “Wheel of Fortune winner.”
My favorite part of the audition process is that genuine Wheel of Fortune fans outshine those obviously just hoping to get some face time on TV or just any game show. Contestant coordinators at these auditions recognize smart players: those who kick off the WHAT ARE YOU DOING category by calling "N" or "G", understand the solution to a BEFORE AND AFTER puzzle, and call the most-frequent letter in the puzzle after landing on a large dollar amount. Common traits among those from the Cleveland audition I've recognized on the show recently are the enthusiasm level one should demonstrate when on Wheel of Fortune (very high), consistent smiling, and confident letter-calling voices. Each letter is enunciated with a level of passion that the entire audience is in suspense, hoping to see the letter on the board. Those I have yet to see on the show include those who discussed personal issues or asked the crowd to follow them on Instagram during their "intros".
Typically, six episodes are filmed in a day, which means contestants from several shows can be together at the studio for up to 11 hours. If this sounds more like jury duty to you than an extremely fun opportunity of a lifetime, don't try to deny someone more appreciative the chance! On other TV shows, people spend weeks on a remote island eating rice and bugs for a chance at $1 million. On Wheel of Fortune, you are fed sandwiches, pizza, and bananas and have access to clean water and toilets. The behind-the-scenes crew is sincerely concerned about every aspect of contestants' experiences. Two minutes before going onstage, a contestant coordinator even blow-dried my armpits when I jokingly expressed concern regarding underarm sweat being broadcast to millions.
I can’t express how grateful I am for the opportunity to participate in my favorite game show and to have been in the presence of television royalty: Pat Sajak and Vanna White. My advice for those fans who dream of playing the “with real money” version of Wheel of Fortune is to be proactive. Submit a video online or follow WheelofFortune on Twitter to stay informed of Wheelmobile auditions near you. If an ordinary fan like myself can make it on the show, so can you! Fortune favors the brave, so get out there and make your dreams come true.