I Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune Experience

I Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune Experience

Even as I am writing this I am still floored by the fact that I was featured as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune! Was I really on national television for everyone to see?! It still seems so surreal to me! The feedback and support I received from the community was amazing and since then, I have had so many people reach out and ask about my experience and how I made the show that I figured there was no better place to share my story than here on The Lafayette Mom!

Now let me start off by saying that I am no one special nor do I think any differently of myself since being on the show! I am just a normal wife, mom, and teacher who took a chance on a childhood dream and I still cannot believe that it came true.

Did I go home with the big prize- no! But did I have the opportunity of a lifetime that I will certainly never forget? Absolutely! If I have learned anything from this experience it is to never stop chasing your dreams- you never know when they just might come true! 

So here is my Wheel of Fortune experience!

I have always been a fan of the show! I can still remember being a young girl and watching the show with my grandparents as we yelled out various letters at the TV screen while becoming increasingly frustrated as to why that contestant didn’t just buy a vowel (which is not so easy to do by the way!) As I got older, I continued to watch the show with my husband and then our kids got involved and it became a nightly tradition of watching Wheel of Fortune and seeing who could solve the most puzzles and make it to the bonus round! 

 Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune Experience

One day during the infamous Covid lockdown of 2020, an advertisement came on during Wheel of Fortune asking for contestants to apply for the show through their website. I remember looking at my husband and saying “Hey I think I am going to apply for the show! How fun would that be!” and he was just looking at me and laughing because deep down he knew that If I would apply- I would most likely make the show. My husband is a wonderful man but we are living proof of the “opposites attract” rule! I am outgoing, talkative, and love anything and everything that requires me to be social or in the spotlight. My husband, on the other hand, is an introvert. He would rather avoid being in the spotlight at all costs; however, on more than one occasion, he has put himself out there for me and has always been very supportive of my wild and crazy extroverted ideas. Wheel of Fortune was no exception.

I got online and filled out the application, going into it with very little to no expectations. 

Fast forward to June of 2023 when I randomly opened my email and saw something in my inbox from Sony Picture Studios. Out of curiosity, I opened it and it said something along the lines of Sony wanting to do a virtual interview with me via Zoom to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. Of course, I immediately thought this was spam and deleted it without thinking twice about it. I mean come on- it has been years since I had applied for the show! No way I was getting a chance to audition now! 

A few days later I received the exact same email asking me, yet again, to take part in a contestant zoom interview and listing specific time slots since I had not responded the first time and once again, I deleted it! A few days later I got a phone call from a Los Angeles number. I often get spam calls from random numbers and I never answer them. However, something told me to pick up the phone and thank God I did! On the other line was a producer from Wheel of Fortune asking me what time would work for me for a virtual zoom interview since they had not been able to reach me via email-I almost fainted! This was real!

I actually had an audition for Wheel of Fortune! I scheduled my time for the next day before I lost my nerve. 

The first interview lasted no more than ten minutes! It was a basic conversation with just the producer and myself where she asked me a few questions about myself and why I wanted to be on the show. I wonder if she noticed the beads of sweat dripping off of my forehead or the fact that I could not stop moving my hand?!  I was SO nervous. She then asked me if I would be able to do a second mock puzzle round interview the next day with other potential contestants. I happily agreed and scheduled my time for a few days later. The next interview round was a little more intense! We had to guess between 10-20 puzzles with other contestants on the zoom call as if we were on the show all while using our thumb to act as if we were pressing a fake buzzer. I gave it my best shot and at the end of the round, the producer said we would hear something in the next month if we made the show. If we didn’t hear anything, then it didn’t work out for us but she encouraged us to apply again within the next year. 

An entire month went by with no word from the show. I remember feeling pretty disappointed as I had gotten my hopes up since I got so far in the process; however, I reminded myself that it just wasn’t meant to be. That night as we were watching Wheel of Fortune (coincidentally!) I pulled up my email on my phone and there I saw it- an email from Sony Studios with the subject line that stated in big letters “CONGRATULATIONS FUTURE WHEEL OF FORTUNE CONTESTANT!” I’m pretty sure I scared my entire family including most of the neighborhood with how loud I screamed!

Just like that, my husband and I ironed out all of the details, booked our flights, packed our bags, and headed off to Los Angeles California!

 Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune Experience

It was a very quick one day trip as both my kids and I were starting school around the same time of the filming of the show. We arrived the evening before filming and flew home the next day. We had to be at the studio at 6:00am to sign all of our paperwork and get hair and makeup done (I felt like a total celebrity!) as well as find out what episode we would be on and meet the other contestants! We were also given specific dress code guidelines and had to bring a backup outfit in case the one we arrived in did not portray well on camera.

The whole entire experience was so surreal and SO amazing! I met the most wonderful and deserving people from all over the United States as well as getting to have a one on one conversation with Pat Sajak on the pronunciation of “Soileau” He even had to write “SWALLOW” on his talking cards so he knew exactly how to say it. I got a good laugh out of that one! Vanna White was also just as kind and humble and told us she has worn a different dress for every single episode of the show; however, she wears her own jewelry and shoes! There were 21 contestants total and each episode was filmed back to back in about 15-20 minute segments. It feels WAY faster than that! Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune Experience They drew names from a hat when we got there and I got chosen for the third segment of the day. I hit it off immediately with the other contestants that were going to be on the show with me and I could not be happier that they both did so well. We take part in a very quick mock episode in which you practice annunciating your vowels and consonants as well as speaking very clearly and loudly. They also give you quite a few practice spins on the wheel and I definitely did not expect it to be SO heavy!! It definitely took me a few tries to get the hang of it. It is such a different experience from watching it at home on my couch! Between the lights, trying to pay attention to the letter board and puzzle board, listening to what the other contestants call as well as trying to figure out what the puzzle is, as well as, that ever so wonderful bankrupt slot that seemed to get the best of me- it can be very overwhelming! However, it truly was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and honestly wouldn’t change a thing that I did.

I went into it reminding myself that even if I didn’t come home with the big bucks, I wanted to represent both my school and community well and most of all, enjoy every moment of a once in a lifetime experience! I truly believe that I did just that. 

I Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune ExperienceWe had to sign a contract stating that we would not reveal that we were going to be on the show until after the filming of the show, and we absolutely could not reveal the outcome of our episode until the air date. This was SO unbelievably hard for me as I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was going to be a contestant! I have to say the hardest part was not telling my third grade students! When I was finally able to reveal to them the reason why I was absent on the first day of school, their reaction was priceless! I was a celebrity to them and my own kids thought it was so cool that everyone at their school was asking if their mom was the one on Wheel of Fortune! My school and coworkers even threw me a Wheel of Fortune watch party equipped with hand held signs with my face on them! I felt so loved and supported by everyone which made the experience even that much more special. 

I Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune Experience

If I have learned anything from this experience it is to never give up on your dreams no matter how silly or out of reach they may seem.

The fact that one of my dreams came true is still so surreal to me- little old me from a small Louisiana town had been picked out of thousands of applicants to be on Wheel of Fortune?! I still do not know what they saw in me or what made me standout among the other applicants; however, I am so proud that I took a leap of faith and was able to make one of my childhood dreams a reality!

I Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune ExperienceI Would Like To Buy A Vowel, Pat! :: My Wheel Of Fortune Experience

Lacie Soileau
Lacie Soileau is a Louisiana Native originally from Ville Platte. She went to UL Lafayette and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. She then went on to earn her Teaching Certification at Louisiana College in Pineville as well as a Master’s Degree in Teaching. She also recently completed her Educational Leadership Certification. She has been in education for ten years and is currently a Third Grade Teacher at Milton Elementary School. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 12 years and together they have 2 children – Rylie who is 10 going on 16 and Nathan who is 6 and is our little energizer bunny!. Lacie loves to read, write, shop and exercise! One of her favorite things about living in Lafayette is all of the delicious food! Her favorite things are coffee, any type of spicy food, and spending time with her husband and kids!


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