$25.00 worth of canned tuna, four cases of rice cakes, a bottle of floor wax and a make-up mirror. That’s what I got for making a fool out of myself on national television.
I’d like an “N” as in “never again,” please.
Almost three decades ago, when Wheel of Fortune came to Notre Dame to recruit contestants for their “College Week” series, I was both amused and intrigued. As a kid I would “Watch the Wheel” during lazy summer days and when I was home from school with the flu.
If I could only get to California, I assured myself, I would make BIG money. My reasoning was simple. As a member of the TV audience, I consistently solved the puzzles before the contestants even made a dent in the used letter board. I marveled at Wheel of Fortune‘s knack for selecting such incompetent players.
May I have an “H” as in “humility?”
Since I could not rationalize going to LA for a game show tryout, I was delighted when I heard that LA would be coming to me. Yes, part of the Wheel of Fortune staff actually came to South Bend, Indiana, to choose four Notre Dame students to appear on the College Week segments.
I anxiously awaited the selection process. The tryout involved a quiz, a mock round of game play and a mini-interview. Out of hundreds of applicants, I was selected to compete on the Notre Dame team. California, fame and fortune were on the horizon.
I’d like to buy a vowel. “O” as in “over-confidence,” please.
During the flight to Los Angeles I made plans on how I would distribute my winnings: I’d keep the car, give my brothers and their wives the trip to the Bahamas, get mom some new furniture and let my sisters split the Gucci gift certificates. I never even considered the option that I might not win.
But my outlook changed once I was in NBC’s Burbank studio. As soon as the cameras started rolling, so did my bad luck.
The puzzles were simple:
A person: Morgan Fairchild
A phrase: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander
And a thing: Phi Beta Kappa Key
Yet in spite of my ability to solve the puzzles quickly, in spite of my screams of “Big Money!” and “C’mon $1,000!,” in spite of my hearty spins of the wheel — I never got to go shopping in their studio filled with fabulous prizes.
Susie from UCLA had great spins of the wheel and won everything. I landed on “Lose a Turn” twice and “Bankrupt” three times and returned to South Bend with a broken ego and some floor wax.
My stint on Wheel of Fortune did not turn out to be the success I had hoped it would be. I failed to win a single puzzle, I failed to win any prizes, and I failed to win the affections of Vanna White. But I still don’t see the experience as a total failure.
If nothing else, I was content knowing I had the shiniest floors in town.
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