LUMBERTON — During a recent filming of “Wheel of Fortune,” Pat Sajak asked Jocelyn Quick-Watrous what came to mind when she thought of Lumberton.
“Home and good food,” said Quick-Watrous, who wasn’t puzzled by the query.
Lumberton is where Quick-Watrous, a native to the city, first watched “Wheel of Fortune,” the television game show hosted by Sajak during which contestants compete for money to solve word puzzles.
“I’m 32 now,” Quick-Watrous said during a phone interview, “and the show has been on for 30 years, so I’ve been watching it almost all my life.”
Quick-Watrous was selected as a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune” at an open call near her new home in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. The show on which she appeared — and which she is sworn to secrecy — will air on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on CBS. She will watch it at “home” with some “good food” at Candy Sue’s Downtown.
The green-eyed brunette said a little luck and a lot of persistence gave her a spin a winning tens of thousands of dollars and prizes.
Quick-Watrous visited the “Wheelmobile” when it came to Myrtle Beach, S.C., during the spring
“It was an open call,” she said. “You stand in line and fill out a form, and those go into a bin. If your name is drawn from that bin, you’re called up on stage to do an interview in front of people.”
According to a statement from the show, more than 10,000 people actually reach the interview process for “Wheel of Fortune” annually, but fewer than 600 contestants appear on the show. The Lumberton High graduate has three times participated in three open calls, and been selected once to audition, only to be rejected.
“I learned what I was doing wrong,” Quick-Watrous said. “It was when I would call a letter, I would say ‘I would like a T,’ but they just want you to call a letter and be really loud and clear and just say what you want. Just say T.”
A ‘T’ was the first letter Vanna White, the hostess of the show, ever turned on “Wheel of Fortune.”
Quick-Watrous, who works as a project manager for Ecova, an energy management and sustainability company, said recruiters look for people who are “good puzzle solvers, who can speak loudly and who have natural enthusiasm.”
Once selected, she paid her way to Los Angeles, where she spent one day at Sony Pictures Studio preparing for the taping.
“It was an intimate atmosphere, and I was very comfortable,” she said. “It was just the nature of the process. I got there at 7 a.m., and we didn’t start filming until the afternoon, but I had already been there for five hours getting to know everybody, getting makeup done — just interacting with the crew.”
She was surprised at the weight of the wheel, which she estimated to be about 50 pounds. She was also surprised at how “comfortable” and friendly White was.
“The first time I met her, she came in to address the group of contestants and she was completely undone — no makeup or anything,” Quick-Watrous said. “She just sat down and wished us all luck and gave us some words of encouragement.”
The show’s rules forbid Quick-Watrous from divulging whether or not those words of encouragement paid off in cash or prizes, but she provided this spin on the experience.
“It was absolutely worth it,” she said. “My life dream.”