Western junior Jordan Alford won $3,000 and an all-inclusive trip to Disney World on a recently aired episode of Wheel of Fortune.
Alford and her grandmother, Yolanda Irvine, traveled to Disney World after being selected to appear on Wheel of Fortune’s very first Grandparents week. They were placed at Disney’s all-inclusive resort for four days during the filming of the show.
“We won $3,000 and of course we split it, but we have to pay Florida taxes, Missouri taxes and some other taxes,” Alford said. “I don’t know how much I will actually get until March.”
“Wrapping paper” was the correct answer the women solved for the puzzle with “things around the house” as their only hint. Alford said the entire experience was life changing for herself and her family.
“Me and my family had never taken a big family trip before, and that was our first time to Disney World,” Alford said. “That was a lot they[Sony] were shelling out for us, and that alone was amazing.”
Alford and her family enjoyed four days of rides, sunshine and the magic of Disney while only one day was devoted to the filming of the show.
As it turns out, there is more than meets the eye of the audience watching the show from the comfortability of their homes. Although Alford and her grandmother are seen wearing sweaters on a Christmas set, the entire show was filmed outside in 99 degree heat.
“Between commercials they had someone from hair and makeup come adjust all of us like real celebrities,” Alford said. “They would touch us up with powder, and give us a fan. Someone was literally holding fan in my face and feeding me water.”
According to Irvine and Alford the contestants were taken care of, and were offered air conditioning, food and beverages between filming sessions.
“. . . And we don’t even look at the puzzle everyone sees on TV. There is a separate board for contestants to look at,” Alford said.
Alford said the board Vanna White uses to reveal the correct letters is only intended for the audience. The contestants look at a separate board that is never shown on TV. It is smaller, and not as glamorous.
Other than enjoying the star treatment and Disney World rides, Alford and Irvine were excited to see Vanna White and Pat Sajak up close. According to Alford, Vanna White is every bit as glamorous in person as she is on TV.
“It was really cool to see everything that goes into it, and they really look great in person,” Alford said.
Alford and Irvine didn’t win the largest sum of money that day, but they were happy to see behind the scenes of one of their favorite game shows.
“We went in wanting to win money. Everyone wants to win, but at the end of the day it was just the experience that mattered,” Alford said.
Alford’s grandmother went through a two step selection process before appearing on the show.
Alford said her aunt recorded her grandmother for an audition, and submitted it to the website for review. Her grandmother received a call from a producer who instructed her to bring a grandchild with her to the Kansas City audition.
Interestingly, this was not the first time Irvine was selected for an audition in Kansas City.
“I got two chances. This October, and 20 years ago,” Irvine said.
Two decades ago Irvine had the opportunity to audition in Kansas City after submitting a video to the producers at Wheel of Fortune. Ironically, she was injured in Florida at the time she was called for the audition and couldn’t make it. 20 years later Irvine traveled back to Florida with her granddaughter to appear on the show.
“Wheel of fortune was a life changing experience, but you have to take advantage of your season of blessing. God is good,” Irvine said.
Appearing on the show wasn’t only a memorable experience for the duo, it allowed Alford to meet producers who may help her pursue a career in public relations.
Alford is currently studying public relations at Western, and she is interested in becoming a game show host or talk show host. Luckily for her, appearing on the show may have opened doors for a future internship.
“I talked to the producer, and she told me that I need to put in an application for an internship at Sony,” Alford said. “She said I can use her if I wanted to.”
Alford is currently looking into a summer internship with Sony, a bit of information she didn’t need a bonus round to earn.
If you are interested in auditioning for Wheel of Fortune, simply visit the website and submit a video of yourself and wait for the phone call.
“Hopefully I will get to do some more game shows, because I would like to be a game show host in the future,” Alford said. “It was definitely worth it.”