A 32-year-old Star woman with a knack for word puzzles always dreamed of competing on “Wheel of Fortune.”
“Other little girls were like, ‘I want a pony.’ I wanted to be on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’” Lindsey Stegner told the Statesman.
Stegner got that once-in-lifetime chance in August, after a rigorous audition process. The show aired Thursday night.
Stegner won $33,415 in cash and prizes, including a trip to the Bahamas and a car. She said she hopes to use her winnings to take her husband on their dream vacation to Hawaii.
The first of five puzzles she solved — with just three letters revealed — was “giant sea turtles.” She was stumped on the bonus puzzle, which was “your day job.”
“Other than that, the puzzles just came right to me,” Stegner said.
The stay-at-home mother of three children, ages 15 months, 9 and 10, moved to Idaho from California this year with her husband, a former police officer.
Getting on “Wheel of Fortune” is not easy. Stegner said she had been applying for about 10 years. That process begins with submitting a profile online.
“They say they get hundreds of thousands of applications,” said Stegner, who was called to an in-person audition with about 80 potential contestants before landing a spot on the game show.
Stegner said the show’s staff works hard to help all the contestants be successful. They practice puzzles and spinning the wheel before taping.
“It’s really heavy, like 2,000 pounds,” Stegner said of the wheel.
They tape a half dozen shows a day. During commercial breaks, the players are given water, encouragement and tips.
Stegner said the contestants are supportive of each other because so much depends on where the wheel lands and “if it’s a puzzle you can know.” Everyone walks away with at least a consolation prize of $1,000.
And what about Pat Sajak and Vanna White, the iconic hosts of the show?
“That’s a question I get all the time,” Stegner said.
She said White visited with contestants before taping and was very friendly.
“She’s as sweet as can be,” Stegner said. “Pat is hilarious, joking and laughing the whole time.”