Tami Anderson—Douglas High graduate, business owner and mother of four—can now add Wheel of Fortune contestant to her resume and write down Vanna White as a reference.
Anderson competed on Feb. 28 and her show will air on May 5 on NBC.
The audition process to receive a spot on the show was a “whirlwind” and took several months, Anderson said.
“My husband and four kids always watch and one night we just thought it would be fun to apply online,” she said. “You never know until you try, right?”
Anderson submitted the application last year and six months later received an invitation to audition in Las Vegas.
“I bought a plane ticket within twenty-four hours,” she said. “I just flew down there and went through all their tests and they said that if we were selected we’d hear back in two weeks and if we weren’t, we wouldn’t hear anything.”
After two anxious weeks, Anderson said she received a letter in the mail stating she would be a contestant except that it might take up to a year for her to be called to actually be on the show.
“The whole process is hurry up and wait,” Anderson said.
Good fortune was with her, though, and she didn’t have to wait a year to become a contestant. In February, Anderson flew to Los Angeles to Sony Pictures Studios with her husband, Matthew, and 10-year-old daughter, Alyssa, to tape a Mother’s Day show.
“They film six episodes a day, four days a month, so even though we shot on Feb. 28 it was for their Mother’s Day week special,” Anderson said.
She said she was on an all-woman, all-mother panel of contestants.
“Being a mother of four it will be so special to have the show air near Mother’s Day,” she said. “It was great to be with all those mothers. They (show producers) said that we weren’t competing against each other, we were competing against the wheel and that we should cheer each other on.”
Along with great contestants, Anderson said that the show’s host and hostess were also a “class act.”
“Vanna White came through the dressing room to meet all of us contestants and she was very sweet,” she said. “Pat was very kind on set but didn’t do a walk through in the dressing room. We had technical difficulties during taping and Pat and Vanna went out onstage and talked to the studio audience, asked them questions. They were very gracious and kind.”
Taping a game show is different than playing the game at home while sitting on the couch, Anderson said.
“It was very intense,” she said. “They tape it in real time so you have commercial breaks even though you’re not live.”
Being on the set of her favorite game show was also intense, Anderson said.
“At the end of the day it’s just a game of hangman,” she said. “But I remember looking at the puzzle board and just saying, ‘wow, I hope I don’t choose the wrong letter.”
So did she choose the wrong letter, or did she win?
Anderson can only reply, “You have to watch the show.”
Wheel of Fortune producers make all contestants sign a contract stating that the contestant won’t give away the show’s winner before it airs.
“I don’t want to upset the Wheel of Fortune people,” she said. “But if you don’t win, you get $1000 to cover your expenses.”
Anderson will be away on a business trip and staying with friends in Bakersfield, Calif. and won’t get to watch the show with family when it airs.Anderson co-owns an HVAC company called MCS Mechanical, Inc with her husband.
She said there will be a lot of phone calls going back and forth between Gardnerville and Bakersfield.
“It’ll be fun for everyone,” she said.