3 Things I Learned From Being a Contestant on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Competing on “Wheel of Fortune” was a BLAST!! Winning…even better! Now that’s it’s over, I look back and see 3 essential takeaways that can apply to life, business, relationships, and so much more….

We’ve watched the show for years, and yes, I usually came out ahead. My family loves to sit down and have friendly competitions at any game, including TV game shows. On a January evening in 2017, we sat down to watch an episode of the widely popular “Wheel of Fortune”.

When the first puzzle came up, I correctly solved it, and quickly. Unfazed, my youngest son readied himself for the next one, with a disclaimer; I had to let him guess before I blurted it out. To make it easy on him, I excused myself to the kitchen to begin making dinner, with the TV in full view of my work space. I waited, and waited….and finally, unable to control my competitive juices, I blurted it out yet again. With frustration and a smile, my son informed me that it was the last draw. I was now going to submit my audition video to be on the show! Thinking he was only half serious, I agreed to do so, and we left it at that….


About a month later, my 12 year old comes in the front door after school and asks me the matter-of-fact question “Did you do it yet?” “Do what?”, I asked. “Make your Wheel of Fortune video!” Oops. After informing him that I’d forgotten to create the required submission video, he looked at me simply and said something I’ll never forget. “You’re a promise breaker!” He wasn’t being disrespectful. He even said it with a smile. But I knew what he meant. Of the multitude of godly traits I attempt to teach my boys, integrity is right near the top of the list. This time, the teacher needed taught. Embarrassed and in need of rectifying the situation, I immediately ran upstairs, created a short, goofy video I was sure wouldn’t get selected, and sent it off to the powers that be. “Better late than never!”, I reasoned in my mind, but deep down I knew that I should do a better job of practicing what I preach. When you say you’ll do something, you do it, and you don’t hesitate. My mouth wrote a check my body wasn’t cashing, and my sweet, yet bold son called me out on it…..


I was quite amazed when I got the call that auditions were coming to KC. I couldn’t believe my video was even viewed, let alone selected to audition. After a cool moment of “Can you believe this?” with my family, I put the date on my calendar and eventually auditioned. When it was over, I wasn’t called back in the room for a second meeting, and was told that if you received something in the mail, you were selected to appear on the show as a contestant. If not, try again next year. I wasn’t holding my breath, but simply chalked it up to a cool experience….

In Sept, my wife came in the door with the news that I’d been selected. I called the number just to verify that it was true, and sure enough, I’d be heading out in just 2 short weeks to be a contestant. My bride and I immediately drove to my son’s school to watch his cross country meet, where I met him prior to his race to tell him the good news! “Dude! Can you believe it? I made it! And you’re going with us!” He didn’t bat an eye. No emotion, just a look of determination to focus on the 3+ miles he was getting ready to run. “Aren’t you even a bit surprised?”, I asked. His response is something I’ll never forget and will echo through my mind and heart forever. “I’m not surprised at all. As soon as you sent the video, I knew you’d be picked. See you after the race!” What I wrote off as a one-in-a-million chance was, to him, a done deal. His faith in his dad is what drove him to believe, without question, that it would happen. The teacher was still being taught…..


3 days in LA. The beach, Santa Monica Pier, Planet Hollywood, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and of course, pics of the famed Hollywood sign. Oh…yeah….then there was that game show thing. In the end, I was blessed to win a trip and large sum of cash. It was one of the funnest days of my life, and one of the most stressful days of my life all wrapped into one. My thoughts going in were somewhere along the lines of not embarrassing myself or my family, covering the expense of my trip, and many other rapid-fire ideas that left my brain just as fast as they would enter it. But now I see those thoughts were missing the point. I am more blessed to be able to spend time with my family playing games, laughing, getting to know the heartbeat of my boys and bride. I am more blessed that I was able to watch my son, pure faith and all, glaring at the snow-covered mountains in awe while looking out the window of the airplane to and from LA. I am more blessed to look back at pictures of all the cool people and places we experienced, but not because of those people and places. It’s because we were together. Experiencing each other. Living life together. Sometimes we have great expectations of what life should be like. Then, like a blind curve you don’t see coming, perspective hits you, and it’s through that different set of eyes that you find a greater truth revealed: you were blessed long before what you thought would bless you.

I loved the experience. It’s a great story. I’m one of 600 people to appear annually out of 1,000,000 that try. But better yet-I’m the only dad of that incredible boy, who loves, relies on and believes in me without hesitation or fail. And no dollar amount can ever equal that.