For some reason this afternoon, one of my children asked me where my tape was of my appearance on Wheel of Fortune. I looked and looked, and after about 20 minutes, I found it! Jimmy actually transferred the original VHS to a DVD. It has been years since we watched the recording, and I am not sure that Sam and Leah have ever seen it!
For those of you who don't know me personally, or maybe you do, but you never knew this--I was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune over 15 years ago. I was pregnant with Clay, and going to Los Angeles was a treat for Jimmy and me!
I saw on TV that Wheel of Fortune would be holding tryouts in our area (Jackson, MS). The instructions were to go by Burger King and pick up a postcard. I filled out one for both Jimmy and myself and mailed them to the local TV station that was hosting the tryout. They randomly chose postcards and called those people to invite them to a group tryout. I am not sure why I even put Jimmy's name on a postcard. He was a fellow, and it's not like he could just leave the hospital and go try out for Wheel of Fortune.
So the TV station called and asked to speak to Jimmy. I said, "Are you calling for Wheel of Fortune tryouts?" The lady said that she was, and I begged her to let me come instead. I explained that he could not leave work, and I was totally available. She agreed! And so I went to the tryout!
The tryout was held at a hotel, and I am guessing about 100 people were there. I really can't remember all of the details. We took a written test (solving word puzzles), we stood up and introduced ourselves with enthusiasm, and then they narrowed us down to a much smaller number (I can't remember…20-30 maybe?). Then we played a couple of rounds of Wheel of Fortune complete with a cardboard wheel. It was so much fun! They told us that if we were not selected to be on the show, we would never hear from them again. But, if they did choose us to be a contestant, we would be called two weeks prior to the date that they needed us in California. And, it may be 2 months to a year (I think that was the time frame) before they called us.
So, I was excited for a couple of weeks, and then I got busy with my life, and I forgot. I also got pregnant with Clay, and my life was consumed with taking care of a 3 year old, a just turned 1 year old, and trying not to vomit all day. (Actually that was my life for all five pregnancies, all day "morning sickness" and vomiting, but that is another story!)
Sometime in early October of 1998, I got the the call! I was selected to be a contestant! I wrote down the dates and then I called Delta Airlines. (This was back when you called and talked to a real live person to buy airplane tickets!) I was so excited! I told the reservations agent that it was going to be my first time to fly! and that I was going to be on Wheel of Fortune! Then I called and made our hotel reservations, asked my parents to keep Olivia and Julie, and asked Jimmy to beg the hospital to let him go with me!
We packed our bags, I prayed that I wouldn't throw up on the airplane, and we were off! Jimmy and I enjoyed a few days in Los Angeles, and the filming of Wheel of Fortune was the highlight for me. I also hoped and prayed that I would not throw up on the set or even backstage of Wheel of Fortune, and thankfully, I did not! (I was sick plenty at our hotel and other destinations though.)
The day on the Wheel of Fortune set was fun. It was an all day affair. We had orientation, practice, lunch, hair and make-up touch up, and then the recording of the actual shows. A week's worth of shows were recorded in one day. I can't remember how we were put into our groups of three for each show, but I do remember we drew numbers to see which group went on each day. I was part of the Tuesday recording.
When Sam was watching the show today, he said, "Mama. You have such an accent!" I did sound pretty country. I am sure that I still do! We all enjoyed watching my show today, and I even forgot a couple of the puzzles until some of the letters were filled in--and I had already solved them! On the show I solved all of the puzzles but one, and I was also the big winner. Which meant that I picked a letter (I think I got an E) and after attempting to solve the final puzzle, I was able to look to see what my grand prize would have been. At the time, $25,000 was the grand prize. My prize (that I did not win) was a trip for 10 (I think) to Lake Tahoe. I won $11,500 cash and prizes, and that cash helped pay our bills the last year of Jimmy's cardiology fellowship. My prizes included a big screen TV, and I mean the kind that was big…in a brown cabinet that sat on the floor like a huge piece of furniture, and a DVD player (which at the time I had no idea what that was). We still have that DVD player.
Here is my final puzzle. If you have not seen the recording of my show (or if you forgot!), you can guess.
I was given R,S,T,L,N,E. I also guessed B,P,O. I think I guessed P. Anyway, the letters below are all I had.
_ E _
_ _ _ _ N
What do you think it is?
For a trip for 10 to Lake Tahoe! Ha!