Wheel of Fortune Recap Part One

WOW!  That was quite an experience.  And we’ll tell you all about it!

We know what you really want to know: how did Sizzlemaker do?

We’re not telling…yet.  We’re going to keep you in suspense for a bit!

But here are the deets we will share right now…

Arrived at Sony Studios in Culver City at approximately 7:45 am and met the other 19 contestants– the 17 (plus me) scheduled and 2 alternates.  We ranged from ages 20 to 5o+ and came from all over the country, including some locals and one person from Hawaii.

A decent breakfast spread was provided: oatmeal, muffins, cereal bars, etc.

We filled out the first of many forms and were briefed by the outside company in charge of fairness and legitimacy.

We went through the contract that we all had to sign, 30-something pages in all.  Had basic info, such as the rules about getting your prizes, disclosing all potential conflicts of interests (like being on another game or reality show recently) and…whether or not you’ve ever been convicted of a felony.

We all had our makeup professionally done (partly with airbrush–quite cool!) even though we still had several hours until the first of the six shows would be taped.

We went on the set to practice spinning the wheel–much heavier than you would think; definitely had some trouble!–and learn about the different monitors we needed to pay attention to.  We also filmed Hometown Howdys, which are little spots advertising our appearance and airing on our local stations.

During this time, Vanna White popped in to say hello!  She had no make-up on and wore pajama bottoms.  Not a pretty site.

Next we went over all the rules and procedures of the game, including the different types of rounds and categories.  Though it seems there are couple that are most common, there are actually more than 30!

We had a pre-lunch break, with mini-wraps, cheeses and little pepperonis and some other mystery meat.

After that they announced our pre-determined groups of 3.  Sizzlemaker was going to face-off against a 20-year-old college student from Idaho and a 29-year-old paramedic from Washington.

Sizzlemaker was given the blessing (curse?) of choosing a numbered golf ball out of a bucket, which determined our place in the show order.  Our number: six.  Of six.  That’s right, folks.  Got there before 8 and didn’t tape until after 5pm! We also used similar balls to determine our placing on stage.  Sizzlemaker got the number two position, yellow and center.

Next we had a rehearsal where we again practiced spinning the wheel, but this time with calling out letters and solving puzzles.  Not exactly the most realistic simulation but it was sufficient.

The first taping began a little after noon.  The audience (which numbered less than 100) consisted of contestants, their guests and other random people who got tickets.  The contestants, of course, sat separately and could not communicate with anyone but staff.  In fact, no one was allowed into the building with a cell phone and contestants weren’t even allowed to bring reading material!

The first five episodes, which will air the first week in February, were themed “Gone Fishin'” so a lot of the puzzles and prizes had to do with that.  The set’s backdrop was a log cabin which didn’t seem to make that much sense.

Though the show is less than a half an hour when you take out commercial breaks, it took anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to film each episode.  Why the differences?  Depended on glitches and technical issues and how fast the contestants solved the puzzles.  We also got to each lunch during the taping: pizza and lots of junk food!

So how exactly did the game work?  The first round is called Toss-Up and it’s worth $1,000.  Letters start popping up on the board, one-by-one and randomly, and anyone can buzz in to solve the puzzle.  The second round is another Toss-Up, this time worth $2,000 and control of the game.  Whoever wins that second rounds gets to spin the wheel first in third round, a general turn-by-turn spinning of the wheel and guessing letters.

The fourth round is always the Jackpot Round, where the amount landed on with each spin accumulates into a pot.  If you land on Jackpot and correctly guess the letter, you have the opportunity to solve the puzzle and win the Jackpot.  If you land on it and fail to do either of those things, the Jackpot disappears completely.  This is followed by the Mystery Round, where one of the wedges is secretly worth $10,000…or could give you bankruptcy.  It’s your decision, once you correctly call a letter, to decide whether you want $1,000 per a letter or to flip the wedge over to see if it’s the ten grand or bankruptcy.  One of rounds 2 through 4 will also be a Prize Puzzle, which means whoever solves the puzzle gets a prize, usually a trip of some sort.  The fifth round is another Toss-Up, this time worth $3,000 and control of the game.

The sixth round is usually the last, and because time is running out, Pat Sajak will give the wheel a final spin and each contestant will have chances to call out letters for that value.  After successfully calling a letter, you have 3 seconds to solve the puzzle, or else the next contestant gets to try.  The contestant with the most money (in cash and prizes) at the end of this goes to the Bonus Round.  In the Bonus Round, you spin a miniature wheel which designates an envelope with a prize that will be revealed later.  R, S, T, L, N and E are revealed in the puzzle and then you get to choose 3 more constonants and a vowel.  You then have 10 seconds to try to solve the puzzle.  Regardless of whether you do, Pat reveals what the envelope holds at the end (could be $20,000 to $100,000 or a car) but you of course only get the prize if you’ve solved the puzzle.

Interesting things: if you win a prize during a round (separate from the Prize Puzzle itself) but do not win the round by solving the puzzle, you lose your prize!  Also, winning the $1,000,000 is a multi-step process.  First you must land on that wedge when you spin and then correctly call a letter.  If you win that round, you’re still in the running towards the million.  If you lose the round, you lose the chance at the million and it’s gone for everyone for the whole game.  In order to keep working towards the million, you then have to have the most money and go on to the Bonus Round.  Finally, you must correctly solve the Bonus Puzzle and then pray and hope the envelope you chose says $1,000.  That’s right: landing on the million wedge means nothing if you don’t win that specific round, make it to the bonus round, win and happen to pick the right envelope.  Incredibly difficult and very low odds.  There’s only been one million winner in the show’s history, though this opportunity is pretty new.

All that being said, how did everyone do?

The lowest amount won: $1,000

The highest amount won: about $60,000

Some of the trips won: Aruba, Mexico, Paris, London, San Francisco, etc.

And how did we do?  You’ll have to wait til tomorrow to find out!

Check back then for a full-recap of Sizzlemaker’s specific game…and winnings!

7 Responses to “Wheel of Fortune Recap Part One”

  1. Sounds like such a fun experience. Can’t wait to hear how it turned out.

  2. That does sound like it was pretty fun. I’m kind of really want to hear the rest.

  3. I stepped away from the tv for just a couple of minutes and missed the final puzzle. Do you happen to know what the final puzzle was for jan 16,2009?

  4. Sharon,

    We did not catch it since we’re kind of Wheel-ed out after watching 6 episodes be taped less than 48 hours ago!

    Good luck in your search!


  5. Good for you! Nice write up! The best part is you came home with money.

  6. Yea, but did you win enough for two plane tx?

  7. Sizzlemaker, the important thing is that you got back home safely! Especially after the “miracle on the Hudson”! We wouldn’t have like to have seen a “miracle on lake Michigan”! Money is great but the real bucks will come when you’re finished with school. WE ARE ALL PROUD OF YOU AND YOU WILL ALWAYS BE A WINNER TO US!

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