Tyler B's Blog Post
Never in a million years did I imagine that I would have been given the chance to compete on a game show, let alone my favorite game show in the entire WORLD. Being a contestant on Wheel of Fortune has been a lifelong dream of mine. I remember getting excited as a little boy when the letters would ding and Vanna would turn them over. When I learned that the Wheelmobile was coming to my hometown, I knew that there was no chance I would miss it. It was a two-day event and I told myself that I would be there for the entire time if I needed. Luckily, I got called up on stage on the first day, solved the puzzle, and left with a huge smile. I waited for a couple months before getting another e-mail inviting me to a second round of auditions. I took the day off work and make the trip back to my hometown for the second audition. I was so pleased with how that audition went. I played well and was pretty confident that I’d gotten every puzzle correct on the written test. They told us it would be two weeks until we heard anything and that if we didn’t, it didn’t work out this time and we would have to try again in the future. Two very long weeks went by with no letter, and I was so disappointed, but I told myself that I would eventually make it and would keep trying. You can imagine how shocked I was when I opened my mailbox three weeks later and saw a letter from Wheel of Fortune addressed to me. ME?! I felt such a sense of excitement and accomplishment. Now, the waiting game to be selected as a contestant began.
I waited for a few months, and eventually I got an e-mail with a tape date that was just fourteen days away. There was nothing that was going to stop me from going to that taping. I got my affairs in order, went shopping for some new clothes, and made my way to LA with my parents, my sister, and my grandmother. They were all so ecstatic to be able to see Wheel in person. The day of the taping, we arrived and were greeted with big smiles and enthusiasm from Alex, Jackie, Shannon, and Teddy. We went through all of our legal matters as a group, and then it was time to step out into the studio for our first look at the wheel. The wheel is so small in person! Although it’s small, it’s surprisingly heavy. Luckily, we were able to practice spinning the wheel. Before I knew it, it was showtime. I was the third show to be filmed that day, and my theme was “Wheel Around the World.” Watching Pat and Vanna walk out from behind the puzzleboard was one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life, and I’m not sure I’ll ever forget it. I picked up my toss-up device and got ready to solve the puzzle. I buzzed in fairly early, but had one word wrong. I tried not to let it show, but I was definitely shaken. We got through the interviews with Pat, and it was time for the second toss-up. I got it! I would be spinning the wheel first. The moment I’d been waiting for! I reached over as far as I could and spun as hard as I possibly could. It spun and spun until it finally landed on BANKRUPT. I was so bummed. I didn’t get to play in the first two puzzles, but I never gave up hope. Alex kept reminding us during commercial breaks that we could all walk away big winners. During the prize puzzle round, I knew that was my chance to come back. I figured out the puzzle early, but I had to wait and hope that I got a crack at it. When I did, I knew there was no chance I’d spin. After hitting bankrupt with just one spin, I didn’t want to risk it again. I told Pat I wanted to solve, so I did! “Savoring Every Second” got me a trip to Jamaica! I was elated. I was just a few thousand behind the leader now. I got the third toss-up puzzle, and round four was a small puzzle, which made me nervous. I spun and called a “T.” There was one, so I spun again. As the wheel was spinning, it clicked. “A Ton Of Fun” was the puzzle! I called the “N” and spun one more time. I watched the wheel spin as I knew what letter I was going to call, and I saw the $5000 space coming my way. It slowed down as it approached, but with one final click of the flipper, I had landed on $5000. I don’t remember much about the moment except knowing that I needed to call “F” and I would have $10,000 just like that. I solved the puzzle and was on cloud nine. A speed-up round followed, and I was on my way to the bonus round. I chose “Place” as my bonus round category, and spun the prize wheel and followed Pat to my mark. The RSTLNE came up and I was left with “_ _ _ _ N T / _ _ _ _ N” to start. I began to run through places in my mind, and I thought to myself, “I bet that last word is cabin…but what kind of cabin? Vacant cabin, maybe?” I called the C and the B, but didn’t venture that “V” was a very common consonant, so I called an “M” just in case the first word was a more common word. I chose “A” as my vowel, and I began to hear the dings. I was left with “_ _ A _ N T / C A B _ N” and I just remember smiling because I felt pretty confident that I was about to win the bonus round. I looked at letter combinations and knew that the most likely available letter that would fall in between “A _ N T” was an “I” and I was able to put together “QUAINT CABIN” when the timer began. To be honest, I don’t have much recollection of the moment. I remember saying the puzzle, seeing Vanna smile and clap, and hearing Pat tell me I was correct. He opened the envelope, I saw $36,000, and I turned around to see my family running toward me. It was the most unforgettable experience of my entire life. I ended up walking away with over $66,000 in cash and prizes. I ended the show with Pat and Vanna, and they both congratulated me on a job well done. I signed my papers, and was greeted with a big hug from Alex and my two fellow contestants, Vicki and Bethany. Vicki and Bethany, I could not have asked for more amazing women to share this experience with.
To anybody who may be reading this: never, EVER, give up on your dreams. I’d dreamed of being on Wheel of Fortune for as long as I can remember, and my dream came true. It can happen to you, too!! To Pat and Vanna: thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so gracious and so wonderful. Having fellow West Virginian Jim Thornton congratulate me when I was finished was so amazing. Alex, Jackie, Shannon, and Teddy: thank you all for making the day go so smoothly and keeping all of us contestants relaxed and enthusiastic. Everybody involved with Wheel of Fortune is so amazing, and I am so blessed to have had the experience that I did.
P.S. Pat, if you’re reading this…I still want your job! Don’t forget about me if you ever need a vacation!