UPDATE: After the writing of this article, the episode aired and revealed that Baird won $72,000 in total prize value.
It would be quite an understatement to suggest that I did not expect to tape an episode of “Wheel of Fortune” — let alone any game show — during my time at Anderson.
At the beginning of each episode, contestants have the opportunity to answer personal questions from Pat Sajak and give the national primetime audience a peek into what makes them who they are. Producers say this is the most nerve-racking segment of the show for contestants. I can attest to this. And yet, the most encouraging aspect of the introduction is that you know it’s coming, which gives you time to prepare and rehearse in the weeks and days leading up to your taping. Somewhat surprisingly, I found the preparation notably introspective.
You’re given very little time in the spotlight. Sure, you can talk about your favorite sports team or a funny celebrity encounter, but that seems like a missed opportunity. What should I highlight? What will people care about? What should they care about?
It should come as no surprise that my responses focused mainly on the last 18 months I’ve spent at Anderson. In fact, I wondered what I would have talked about had I not joined this program. It only served to bolster my appreciation for the people and experiences that I’ve had the extraordinary fortune of encountering during my time here. And the fact that this was coming to a head on a game show? This felt quintessentially Hollywood, such an L.A. story.
Based on an unanticipated question order, my answers came out sideways. I didn’t get to address my loved ones, who would be watching from home. However, I still managed to work in values like education, charity and drive: I addressed Anderson, touched on my experience as Co-President of Challenge for Charity and nodded to a budding running hobby, all while giving the host a wide smile. Ultimately, you’re introducing yourself on a 22-minute episode of a game show, not addressing the United Nations, so you desperately need to have some fun with the process.
There is no better time than right now to apply to be on the show. My advice for anyone getting ready to spin on-air? Bear down and buy another vowel!