Tina A's Blog Post
My Wheel experience from start to finish…
My daughter was a huge influence in getting me to apply to be on the show. It was her persistent night after night, “Come on mom, just send in a video.” “You just have to try!” “OK, OK,” I said…let’s send in a video. Due to so much laughter, it took about 30 attempts. But, finally we uploaded the contestant application. Then about a week later, I received an email inviting contestant hopefuls to a Wheelmobile event in Rohnert Park. I’ve just got to go! I arrived at the casino and stood in line. It was nice talking to people that had the same love of the show as I do. I tried all three shows that day but, unfortunately I did not get drawn to go on stage. As I am walking to my car, with gusty 50mph winds, I decided instead of driving three hours home, I booked a hotel room and tried again the next day. So glad I did that, I was the first group on stage. While talking with Marty, the host, I told him how I went to a live taping of Wheel of Fortune in Las Vegas and between shows, I won a Chubby Checker dance contest. Cue the music and I start doing the twist on stage! I did not solve the puzzle but we were told if the producers wanted to see more of us, we would get an email inviting us to continue the process. This just keeps getting better. I received an email inviting me to San Francisco for another audition. During that audition, producers called our names and we would pop up and call a letter. I hear my name, I jump up and there is no “S,” Oh no! How could there not be an “S?” Awhile later, I get another chance and yet again, the letter I called was not there. Then we were given a paper with partially filled in puzzles. The timer was set for five minutes and I solved so many! The producers told us there would be about a forty-five minute break. When we were called back in, some people were let go and I was asked to stay. We introduced ourselves, and played mock games. We were then told if we were chosen to be a contestant, we would get a letter in the mail in two weeks. I checked the mail daily and day after day, nothing...but finally, I grabbed the mail and sticking out of the corner was “THE” envelope! I started jumping up and down! I could not wait to tell my family, friends, and especially my daughter. Five months later, the phone rings, and it’s Shannon from Wheel of Fortune! I was given a tape date. Less than two weeks later, my daughter, parents, and I are on our way. The morning of the show, contestants were asked to meet in the hotel lobby, to catch the shuttle that would take us to Sony Picture Studios. You can just feel the excitement. In front of the studio, the producers were waiting for us. They are all so energetic, nice, and encouraging. It’s evident everyone loves their job. Before we tape our show, there was a tour of the beautiful studio, I had my hair and make-up touched up, and practiced spinning the extremely heavy Wheel. When I was handed my nametag, it started to really sink in. It’s almost show time! Pat and Vanna stopped by to say hi before the shows started taping. You could hear a pin drop when they were speaking. They cheered us on, told us to relax, take it all in, and most importantly, have fun.
Here we go, I’m in my yellow spot, the music starts and here comes Pat and Vanna. I did not get the first toss up, the second toss-up, or the first puzzle. It’s much harder on set than it is at home. At home, it’s always your turn. In my head, I could hear my daughter saying, “Mom, you always solve these puzzles!” Between rounds, the producers, and make-up artists are rooting us on, keeping us positive. You could really tell they wanted the best for everyone. They reminded me that the show could turn at any moment. A few deep breaths and the show starts back up. I landed on the Wild Card, that was exciting but then shortly after I hit a bankrupt. Still smiling, I keep my motivation up. A short time later, I land on ½ CAR, then I land on the Mystery Wedge. I did not want to risk losing ½ CAR so I passed on the opportunity. To my surprise, I land on the other ½ CAR! It’s a Before and After Puzzle. I know it says GLUTEN FREE, but I had to keep spinning to try to get the last word. I called a “C” and phew, there were two “C’s” and that was all I needed to solve the puzzle, GLUTEN FREE CHECKING! Wow, I just won a car! That was exciting. Next round is a Prize Puzzle round. I’m doing well and solve that puzzle, PARADISE IN THE PACIFIC. Pat, comes over to congratulate me and I say, “Where are “we” going”, Pat informs me that “he” has to work but I am going to Oahu! Pat is so personable, we talked the entire time. He told me, “I was on fire.” So now a car, trip, and cash…this is unbelievable. I solved the last toss-up with only a couple letters, AUSTIN TEXAS. Now, it’s Bonus Round time. I introduce my amazing daughter and wonderful parents who are beaming with excitement. Pat takes me to our spot and I say my letter choices and the clock starts ticking, and let me tell you, time flies. With only a second or two left I say, FLIPPING THE SWITCH and I got it. Wow, and $50,000! Oh, what a night! My family runs over to me with tears in their eyes and my daughter says, “Mom, you did it!”
My favorite part of the entire experience was talking to Pat and Vanna at the end after the bonus round. Not many people get that opportunity and they are so easy to chat with. But, really every part was amazing. In my contestant interview, I mentioned that my daughter and I traveled to Times Square in New York City for the New Year’s Eve ball drop. What I didn’t mention was that you are there for thirteen hours without a bathroom! Now that was hard. Being in New York City for that event was one of my most memorable moments until I was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune! A story that will be passed on from generation to generation.
Thank you to the entire crew at Wheel of Fortune, it was an amazing experience and I did not want to leave. Anyone out there reading this, you know you want to audition, so do it...right now. You will have a “Wheely” good time!