Wheel of Fortune. “Will you marry me, Patti?” quipped Pat Sajak. Of course I replied, “Sure!”  I was obviously already married.  I wasn’t sure what to write on my bio card. I wrote, pastry chef.  At the time as I baked a lot of the desserts for our restaurant. It’s why Pat asked me to marry him.  Apparently, he liked desserts. But back up…

Wheel of Fortune

Once upon a time (isn’t that how all good stories begin) I was a contestant on the Wheel of Fortune Game Show.  Yep, it’s true.  I gotta tell ya it was one heck of a good time.  And, it’s my only claim to fame!


Hanging My Head

My first attempt to get on the show was a dismal failure.  It’s one thing to be really good at solving puzzles while sitting in the comfort of your home where you can yell at the television. It’s another to be sitting in a room with a whole lot of people vying for your spot on the show.  I was so confident I booked a morning flight from San Jose to Los Angeles. A rental car carried me along the 405 to Burbank.  I stood in what I believed to be the end of the long line outside the theater.  Ha!

As luck would have it they opened the door, they reversed the line.  I was actually at the front.  But, it didn’t matter a damn.  Everyone was escorted in.  Seats were assigned.  Each contestant was given a sheet of puzzles. Just about three minutes allowed to sovle.  This is not as easy as it sounds. I didn’t make it and flew home the same day hanging my head.

Fast Forward

About a year later I happened to be in Los Angeles.  I thought, what the hell?  I solved enough of the puzzles that I was asked to stay for a brief  interview.  With nothing to lose I bubbled and smiled and landed a spot on the show.

A few months later – October, I think – I was back in Los Angeles with two outfits in hand.  They tell you to bring two, in case your show goes over a day or something like that.  The best surprise was the set was decorated for the holidays. I knew my show would be aired around Christmas.

Put Your Hand Out

It’s a surreal experience to be on television. There is lots of behind the scenes action going on.  Before they begin taping all of the contestants are asked to spin the wheel.  Put a hand out so they can feel that the wheel spokes. They are actually soft and do not hurt.

wheel 2

When the show has to go to a commercial break, the three contestants have to turn their back to the wheel and sit down on the platform.  While the show is taping, they display a list of used letters. They are out of the camera’s view. And a tally of your accumulated dollar amount. Or at least they did 27 years ago.  Yes, that’s how long it has been.

Ripsnorting Good Time

The other two contestants had each won one round and I was dying inside thinking I had gotten that far and wouldn’t win anything but finally, I pulled it out of the hat and solved the 3rd and final puzzle, “Ripsnorting Good Time.”  What the hell?!  But that was my prize winner.  Way back then the stage had a revolving set display filled with prizes and contestants spent their money right after their win.  I chose a 7-night vacation in St. Petersburg, FL, (I was even interviewed by a local reporter) a portable VHS player, (VHS – Remember those?) and a Tiffany’s gift certificate for the left over $75 from my total win of $2,700 (I think)  Yeah, like what can you buy from Tiffany’s for $75?!  But it was either Tiffany’s or a 20lb. chocolate bar.

Play Off Round

As it turned out, when I solved my puzzle I didn’t realize I had tied with the other contestant. We had a play off round. Sadly, I had a monumental brain fart. I couldn’t see the solve, so he took it.  Oh well.  Here’s another behind the scenes tidbit. The moment the taping ends and you step off of the stage, you are required to sign a tax form declaring your winnings.

The really cool thing for me was that because my show aired during the holidays.  My show aired as a repeat episode. I received a boat load of prizes delivered to my door, including a dishwasher. At the time was awesome because our house didn’t have one.  Double score!

Surprise Showing

I don’t have any photos. They were not allowed at the time. I do have it on tape as I had someone record the show for me.  When I was an elementary school teacher at the end of every school year I would surprise my students and show them my Wheel of Fortune tape.  I wouldn’t tell them what I was going to show them so they were always blown away, which was pretty fun.

And that my friends is my little story and you know what?  Since then, I haven’t watched Wheel of Fortune in years. Go figure.

What’s your 15-minute claim to fame?

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