By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Simms Haguewood spun the wheel, bought a vowel and solved the puzzle.
The Tupelo native and University of Mississippi senior can be seen on an episode of “Wheel of Fortune” on Monday, April 23. She can’t disclose what she won or how well she did, but she had a good time.
“It was fun,” the 21-year-old said. “We always watched the show when I was in high school. I’m a big dreamer, so I try out for a lot of things.”
Haguewood’s journey to the wheel started in high school. She applied online to be a contestant her senior year, and then didn’t hear back from the show until she was in college.
She and a few friends traveled to New Orleans to try out, and then she didn’t hear back from the show again until Thanksgiving 2011. She had finally been selected as a contestant, and she and her family traveled to Los Angeles in early December to film the episode.
“They tape six shows a day. We had to be there at 7, 7:30 a.m. I’d already done my own hair; they did my make-up. Then we practiced buying vowels. You practice spinning the wheel,” she said.
Spinning that colorful wheel is hard work, Haguewood said.
“It’s very heavy,” she said. “I pinched my finger on it.”
The actual taping of the show was fast, only taking about 20 minutes. She admitted it was a little surreal to talk to host Pat Sajak and say some of those famous phrases.
“I don’t really remember saying anything, but you have to practice saying, ‘I’d like to buy a vowel,’ or ‘I’d like to spin,’” she said.
Time was tight during taping, but she got the chance to meet Sajak.
“Pat would come talk to us during breaks,” she said. “He was very sweet.”
She didn’t get the chance to chat with letter-turner Vanna White, though.
Otherwise, she said, the show’s producers, assistants and other workers made the experience worthwhile. And while she’s mum on her winnings until Monday, for now, Haguewood has a “Wheel of Fortune” keychain on her keys.
“The people there were really nice,” she said. “They made you feel like they wanted you to win.”
Wheel of Fortune” airs on NBC stations at 6:30 p.m. weeknights.