Sue P's Blog Post
Monday, April 1st, 2013
I've always been a game person. As a kid, my mom played games with us three kids constantly. Being the youngest, I was probably competitive from the start! I can't do a cartwheel. I can't knit. I stink at geography. But, I can do word games! I've been watching Wheel of Fortune from the very beginning. In the old days, you won and spent your money on prizes on the set that revolved before your very eyes! "What will they choose this time?" I would wonder. The velvet couch? The ceramic dog? And I would dream about what I would pick! Oh, the possibilities were endless!
Fast forward to today - still watching every night. I joined the Wheel Club, asked to be a contestant for every segment that I qualified. And I waited. And I dreamed of being on the show. Then, a miracle happened. Maybe to most of you, that is a little dramatic. But to someone like me, who dreamt of being on the show for decades - it was! The Wheelmobile was coming to Ohio for the first time! My daughter, Morgan, who is as much of a fan as me, sent me the exciting news via e-mail. Together, we plotted our mission to get on that show! She and I made t-shirts for ourselves and her boyfriend. We arrived at the flea market - a quick 15 minute drive - and screamed as we saw the vehicle! We waited in line, filled out paperwork, and listened to all the instructions. The best advice I can give here is - When they say, "Your audition starts when you walk into your show," take it to heart! I was dancing and waving, chatting and laughing - no one watching would miss ME being a great candidate!
Sure enough, I got called to the stage with four others. Happily, I solved the puzzle! We took pictures of the set, crossed our fingers and toes, and went home. What a fun day! Not too long after that, I received a letter telling me I was selected for a second audition! This time, contestant hopefuls were from all over the state, and Kentucky! There were about sixty of us, and everyone was pumped! The audition was similar, but more intense, as it were. Again, I solved a puzzle on my turn. We had to do a written puzzle test after that. It was hard! I just did the best I could and hoped. The sixty was taken down to twenty! I made it! OK, now it was getting SERIOUS!
We had more puzzle solving period, and I was smiling and clapping and whooping for all I was worth! After that, the wonderful staff sent us on our way. The instructions were to wait about two weeks, and if there was no letter by then, we had not made it. Every day was torture, waiting for that mail to come! AND THEN - an e-mail comes, saying, "We have an opening in TWO WEEKS if you want to come!" Two weeks? If they had wanted me the next morning, I would have been there! Oh my gosh! It's really happening! My husband and I are flying to Los Angeles to be ON THE SHOW! I am so excited I can barely sleep! I am telling everyone who is interested - and some who were probably not - that I was going to be on the show! "Hi, my name is Sue from Springboro, Ohio, and I am traveling because I am going to be on Wheel of Fortune!" Woo hoooo! Arriving in Los Angles was so exciting! Even checking into the hotel was exciting! I could see a small group gathering in the lobby, and quickly surmised that they, also, were contestants! We were like giddy school girls - even the guys! It was so fun introducing ourselves - and sharing that excitement that no one quite understands like we do!
After a short night of sleep, we met early in the lobby. We boarded our shuttle to the show, and sadly turned off our phones as instructed. No picture with Pat or Vanna? Rats. Anyhow, all eighteen of us [6 shows taped that day] were JUST like me - in awe of everything, and raring to go! As we disembark the bus, our adorable staff, who came with the Wheelmobile, greeted us! Good-bye world, hello Sony Studios! We were escorted into a room where the "real" work began. We had several mini-lectures on when to ask for a vowel, tips on solving puzzles, we filled out paperwork, and got to know each other. We also had real make-up artists making us gorgeous! Vanna stopped in to wish us luck. Oh. My. Gosh! It was VANNA! She was so sweet, and so tiny! Next, we were off to practice on the REAL set! One girl kissed the wheel. She beat me to it! It was surreal! It was also VERY heavy! As with most sets, it was smaller in person, but totally awesome! We were shown the puzzle board, the used letter board, and the board with the money totals. If you see contestants looking around, well, there were many places to look! We practiced, and luckily, I solved a few puzzles. Boy, I thought, I had better not solve them all now, and freeze during the real show! We all wanted to win, but the atmosphere was more about all of us winning something! We drew for groups, and what order of the show we would be in. Holy cow, I was FIRST! Things moved really fast from that point! Microphones, make-up touch up, forget about lunch - THIS IS IT! I am walking out on the STAGE of Wheel of Fortune! Wish me luck! Watch me spin on Monday, April 1st!
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
The moment is here! I am so excited, I can barely contain it! Thank goodness for doing some small town theater, because I wasn't that nervous with all the lights and chaos - just very, very excited! The music starts, we are in position, and the rest of the contestants are in a special spot, cheering us on! Now, it gets a little foggy for me here. The time went so fast! I know I solved a few Toss-Up puzzles, but unsure if it was the first one. My introduction went great, but I forgot to mention my girls by name! Pat let me do that after the first commercial. He is just as cordial as he appears! At commercial time, we turn around, the "Wheel fairies" put new things on the puzzle, and the staff is there to pump us up, tell us what was next, and touch up our make-up. Royal treatment, it was! All I kept thinking was, "As long as I make enough to cover the trip out here, I am happy!" After winning $3000, I relaxed just a bit, and changed my concentration from making enough to winning. I lost track of the money board, and just concentrated on the puzzles. I hit a Bankrupt, and lost a trip - easy come, easy go! But, I really did want all three of us to win something! I pulled out the last puzzle, and - oh my gosh, I am going to the Bonus Round! Pat Sajak takes my hand and walks me to the small wheel. I am melting. Pat is holding my hand! Concentrate, Sue, concentrate! The puzzle is a phrase, and up pop the usual letters. I added my choices, and waited for the "bings" as the letters turned. I knew it! I didn't even need the ten seconds! I knew it! "QUART OF PAINT!" Amidst my screaming, Pat revealed that I won an extra $30,000, and David ran out to hug me!
Overall, I won almost $46,000! Until they told me, I had no idea. What a whirlwind! It was everything I had hoped for, and more. Another day, someone else might have won. But this day, this moment, I was just "on" and knew the puzzles. I am so grateful to Wheel of Fortune for making a dream come true! I wish I could do it all again! I plan on paying some bills, taking a trip, giving some away, and doing things to our house that have needed done a while! My daughter is now engaged to that boyfriend, and part of the money will go for her wedding, and I will save some for my youngest daughter, for when she marries. I am still watching Wheel of Fortune every night. But, now it is with the memory of how, one day, I was there as a contestant, and I won! It doesn't get much better than that!