WHEEL OF FORTUNE: THE COMPLETE SAGA, our contestant audition experience, part one

Yup, that’s us!

On February 15, 2012, my wife and I appeared on Wheel of Fortune during their valentine’s couples’ week. I am writing a detailed account (in parts) for those interested (and because in the months before our show we read as many blogs as possible from former contestants). I plan on posting one new part each week for the next few weeks. Perhaps we can start a Wheel Wednesday (of course, this is Monday, so we’re already starting off poorly, let’s pretend so we can keep the catchy Wheel Wednesday phrase). HAPPY WEDNESDAY! Only two days of work left. Congratulations. Have yourself a long weekend. Oh, and keep reading…


My wife, Kristi, has always loved the television show Wheel of Fortune. We often sit on the couch together and solve puzzles. I always know I will lose when the “Food and Drink” category comes up. She guesses those puzzles in mere seconds. So, when the audition bus came to town, I knew where we’d be that day.


I almost didn’t go. It was at a local festival that required a pricey ticket to get in. She had received a ticket from a friend so she could attend, but I had resigned (gladly) to sit on the couch and keep the kids. But, much to my chagrin, just a few minutes before she was to leave, another friend called with a ticket for me. So we rounded up a babysitter and headed off with high hopes of game show adventures.

It was a steamy summer day, and we had to walk forever to find the “Wheel Mobile” (the bus that tours the country looking for contestants). Once there, we found them playing a mock game with people from the crowd who were randomly selected from a raffle bin. We filled out our card and dropped it in. I wasn’t all that optimistic, and hoped it would end quickly so I could find a nearby restaurant to avoid a heat stroke. But, after a few games, suddenly, I heard my name called! All my negative thoughts immediately changed as I ran to the stage to play the mock game. Now I actually had a chance!

They took my picture and sent me to the stage with five others. We all introduced ourselves and said a few words. It appeared to me that they were simply checking to see if we were presentable at first. The main objective was to see if we were well-spoken and whether or not we could call out letters clearly enough to be understood. Amazingly, some could not.

We’re in the south, and here some accents can cause letters to be misconstrued for others. I heard a few letters sound something like this: “ahyee.”

It could have been an e, an i, or an a. That guy did not get a call back. I played the game, said a few words, accepted a t-shirt for my efforts, and was then shipped back into the crowd.

I walked back to my wife, and hoped with everything in me her name would be called next.

But it wasn’t.

Several games later, her name had still not been called. Then came the final draw of the day. This would be the last name they announced. I prayed for it to be Kristi’s. They drew the name. It felt like an eternity as we waited for that name to be read…

“Bill Smith.”

My heart sank. My wife had not been called. I couldn’t bear to see the disappointment in her eyes. I hadn’t cared one bit to be chosen, but with everything in me, I wanted her to be chosen. I would’ve given my chance up in a heartbeat for her to have the opportunity, but I couldn’t. So we both stood there, sweating out our disappointment.

But as quickly as the disappointment had come, it left. Bill had not shown up! They would pick one more name! The suspense gripped us again.

They reached into the bin, pulled out one last card, and read the name…


Did we hear that right? Did they really just pick you?

She ran to the front, smiling from ear-to-ear, and played the game like a true champion, pronouncing her letters loudly and clearly.

We left that day not knowing what to expect next. A few weeks later we both received letters in the mail inviting us to a full audition in Chattanooga. We were beside ourselves (wait, does that phrase work in the plural?). And I know exactly what you’re wondering now: “What do you wear to a REAL Audition?” At least, that was my wife’s biggest question.

Find out, next week… same bat time, same bat channel (ZAP, BANG, KAPOW!) on WHEEL WEDNESDAY (also known as Monday).


4 Replies to “WHEEL OF FORTUNE: THE COMPLETE SAGA, our contestant audition experience, part one”

  1. I am disappointed by how good you are at this writing thing and even more so, that I enjoy reading it. Kudos, Schalk.

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