Lizzette Colon, 42, has been watching “Wheel of Fortune” for more than 30 years, since its early days when contestants could still shop for prizes with their winnings.
But it wasn’t until a seemingly fake email landed in Colon’s inbox inviting her to audition for the program this summer that she decided to try out for the live version.
“Working in a school, you have to have a pretty big personality as it is and I thought, ‘Why not?’” the high school guidance counselor at SoHo’s NYC iSchool said.
“One thing I talk about with my students is going for it and taking risks,” she added.
After first believing the email from “Wheel a Fortune” inviting her to audition was spam, she submitted a video, taped at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, showcasing her desire to be on the show. Colon then got a chance to audition in July at a Brooklyn hotel, where she had to do several simulated games and puzzle tests and talk about herself as if the show’s host, Pat Sajak, was in front of her.
Two weeks later, and still no letter saying that she had made the game show, Colon started to lose hope. It was the same devastating feeling she had when she tried out for the show “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!” and got cut in the final round.
But after one more week, the letter finally came.
Colon flew out to Los Angeles, along with her husband and 9-year-old daughter, the following winter and on Feb. 27 taped the episode.
Though she said the studio seemed smaller than it does on television, the experience “felt larger than life.”
“You see it on TV but now it’s actually happening to you,” she said.
The wheel was also not quite what it seemed from watching at home, Colon added: “It’s super heavy. It’s ridiculous. They have us practice and now I understand why.”
And when it came to playing the game, nerves got the best of her at times, Colon admitted.
“Coming from someone who is so confident, you get up there and then you realize how hard it is,” she said.
But what Colon said she actually likes about the show and her experience as a contestant is that “everybody wins something.”
“If you don’t win, you still win with $1,000. I think that takes the edge off the competitors,” she said.
Colon plans on holding a viewing party at Katch Astoria for the 7:30 p.m. airing of the show this Friday for about 49 friends, family and co-workers so far, where she also plans on donning the same outfit she wore on the episode. The bar’s manager has agreed to show the program on two of its large-screen TVs. Her school has also sent out a reminder, so her students will be watching from home.
“I’m glad that I went for it. I could have passed that email,” Colon said. “You have nothing to lose. Just go for it, see what happens.”
“Wheel of Fortune” airs on WABC.