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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rebeca's Wheel of Fortune Blog Part 1

If you're here because you saw Rebecca on Wheel of Fortune you need to start here:

So, this is part 1 of a 2 part blog I wrote for Wheel of Fortune-- you can see them online under Contestants at the official Sony Wheel of Fortune website.  They didn't need this one as they went with Craig from the Wednesday night episode, but I had already written it (ages ago)-- so I figured, I might as well add a little to it, and share it here!   There will be another one AFTER the episode airs!

Hope you enjoy it!

I have been a lifelong fan of just about every game show there is, but I love word games so Wheel of Fortune has always been one of my favorites. After awhile, I had to watch only by myself because my friends and family were annoyed with me always solving the puzzle before the contestants on TV and then constantly bragging about it.  What can I say, I’m very competitive when it comes to games!
The Wheel Mobile had come to New Orleans a few years back and just about everyone I knew had gone but I couldn’t make it the first day because I had a conflict.  Everyone else said it was too difficult and didn’t want to go back the second day—I was upset because I did not want to go alone.  I didn’t go and always regretted it.
That’s why when I found out the Wheel mobile was returning to New Orleans in November I made plans to go whether anyone else was going to go with me or not.  I filled out a contestant application online, and read forums of advice from everyone who had ever auditioned.  They all gave tips about what to do on stage (be high energy, clap, have fun), and that part seemed easy because that’s how I am anyway-- but I had no idea how I was going to manage to be so lucky to get my name picked out of the box.  One person suggested to crumple or fold my entry paper so that it would have a better chance of getting picked.
The day of the Wheelmobile was the same as the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival in New Orleans.  A few of my friends were going and I was supposed to meet them at 10am.  We were celebrating a friend’s birthday.   I love New Orleans and won’t ever turn down poboys, so I decided to do both- I would go to the festival, leave early, and head straight to Harrah’s casino. My best friend agreed to come with me and she had no interest in auditioning but I must have been very persuasive about how fun it was going to be!  The next thing I knew, I had five or six friends from the festival carpooling to Harrah’s…  I was so excited that so many of my best friends were coming, I didn’t care how long I had to wait.  I was a ball of energy and was even more excited when we got a table in the front row of the auditorium!  We all piled in and cheered and hollered.   I had crumpled my ballot so much that when they pulled it out of the box , even before they read the name, my friends all said “that HAS to be yours, Rebecca” – and it was!   I played my best and didn’t solve a puzzle but tried to have fun.  My friends screaming and cheering helped me stay upbeat and I had a good story to tell Marty & Heidi (the Wheelmobile’s “Pat” and “Vanna”) about how my mom had lost (and found) a diamond ring at a Wheel taping in the Superdome years earlier.    I am a union opera singer but I was careful not to mention that as there were a lot of singers and dancers there and they all had to display their craft on stage for everyone!  Opera singers don't really like to be told to sing on cue without preparation.  I decided instead to say that I enjoyed volunteering, and did so pretty often for the American Cancer Society.  It was hilarious because the next 3 or 4 contestants after that all decided to "one-up" me in terms of their volunteering.  One girl built playgrounds for underprivileged youth,  the next person did something better, etc.  I was kind of waiting for someone to say they rescued orphans from burning buildings!   Overall though, most of the people up on stage were vibrant and charming!  My friend Megan also got called up and neither of us solved our puzzles but we both got some really fun prizes (blinky pin, hat, keychain, t-shirt, backpack, cooler bag, and a few other things between the two of us).   We split the things up so that everyone got something, and our group was so loud we were constantly called “THAT table”  by Marty.
I thought I had done well but thought I wouldn’t get a call-back because I didn’t solve anything.  I was surprised (and so excited) when I got an e-mail about two weeks later for a second audition.  I only knew one other person going, and she was going at a different time, but I was still excited.   At the final audition there were about 120 people, and we played mini-games of Wheel, and it was super hard because they would randomly call on one of the 120 people by name and initial of last name, and lots of people were caught off guard to have to take on a puzzle in the middle of someone else calling out letters, and I agree- it was difficult, but after the last time, I was determined to solve at least one puzzle and I did.  I won a Wheel of Fortune grocery bag which has the wheel in the shape of a Flower.  I was SO excited, I love flowers, and bags, and Wheel!  It was the best day ever.  We took a written test and I was more than prepared because of all of the word puzzles I had done throughout life.  There was a cut and I survived it, about 20 of us remained.  We played a few full games of wheel (minus the toss-ups) and I was determined to solve as many as possible.  One of them I solved without even spinning the wheel, I just wanted to solve the puzzle.  I solved 4 puzzles overall in the final audition round, which might have been the most of any contestant that day.   I'm pretty sure I didn't see anyone else solve more than two, so I was pretty excited about that-- I thought my chances were pretty good, but it was still so surreal!

After the auditions were over the twenty or so of us got to talking—the other auditioners were such amazing people.  I still talk to about ten of them today!  We have seen each other through positive life changes and hard times, have had group lunches on more than one occaision, and still have a Facebook group called “We auditioned for Wheel of Fortune because we rock”  where we update each other on what’s going on in our lives.  (To date the group has over 25 people in it, all of the people from our original audition group, plus all of the people we played with on each of our individual episodes!) I am so thankful that it was such a positive experience and that we are all still friends.   I am also very grateful that we had each other to talk to because otherwise I would have gone crazy waiting for my final letter.  I checked the mail every single day… we were told that if three weeks came and went, we weren’t selected, and it came and went, but I was still hopeful.  We had some bad weather and I knew I wasn’t getting packages at work, that’s what I kept telling myself.  Sure enough, one month and one day later, my letter arrived.  I was so excited!!!  I screamed for about five minutes straight.  My puppy Lola thought I was crazy!   I had to read and re-read it to make sure it was real!    I've since heard (  that over a million people a year apply to audition each year for Wheel of Fortune and approximately 600 people a year get chosen as contestants.   I am SO SO incredibly lucky to be one of those 600. 

Tune in on Friday, September 30th, to watch me Spin the Wheel!  I'll be on Spa Fantasy Week!


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