Two local women competed on TV's "Wheel of Fortune" this week.
Tonya Carter, who lives in Chatmoss, was a contestant on the show broadcast Monday night, and Stacey Roach of Henry County was on an segment that aired Tuesday night. Carter finished third among three contestants and won $3,900; and Roach finished first among three contestants and won $8,650.
Both said being on the show was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Carter works at the corporate office of River Community Bank on Commonwealth Boulevard, where she is senior vice president of credit administration. She graduated from Laurel Park High School in 1984 and Virginia Tech in 1988.
"I've watched it ("Wheel of Fortune") for years and years," Carter said. "Jeopardy" comes on after "Wheel of Fortune," and she challenged her husband, Gil Carter, to try out for "Jeopardy" because he's good at it, she said.
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"He said, 'I will try out for "Jeopardy," if you try out for "Wheel of Fortune,""' she said.
In late spring, there was a tryout for "Wheel of Fortune" in Danville. Tonya Carter didn't qualify there but was told there was a possibility her name could be drawn later. A few weeks later she was notified her name had been drawn, which qualified her for an audition in Roanoke. She qualified there, and she, her husband and some other family members flew to Culver City, Calif., on July 13. The show was taped July 14, and they returned the following day.
On taping day, 20 contestants from several states met about 7:30 a.m. Six shows would be taped that day, each with three contestants (there were two alternates), to air Oct. 24-31, Tonya Carter said.
Contestants spent the morning doing such things as meeting with the show's attorneys, undergoing air-brushing and makeup, and practicing doing puzzles and spinning the wheel, she said.
Families arrived about 11 a.m., and they were sequestered on one side of the studio, she said, adding she wasn't allowed to see, speak to or contact her family all day.
"Vanna (White, hostess of 'Wheel of Fortune') came in, all 5-foot-2, 100 pounds soaking wet of her, with jeans, T-shirt and flip-flops, cute as a button," Carter said.
"I was in contestant position 1. I stood next to Pat (Sajak, host of the show). We did chitchat during commercial breaks," Carter said.
Sajak was likable, easygoing, down-to-earth, and he tried to make everyone feel welcome, as did the entire staff, Carter said. "The friendliness was topnotch."
For Carter, who was nervous, it was hard to keep track of everything happening - the puzzle; several boards; the microphone boom and camera; coaches saying, "Spin, spin, spin"; and having to make split-second decisions, she said. "It was a blur."
She pointed out, "The studio is so much smaller than it appears."
She played several rounds, landed on a $1 million wedge once but didn't win it, won and lost $10,000, and on the final puzzle won $3,900 when she correctly answered the place name Dracula's castle.
"I would like to take a nice vacation - the (Florida) Keys maybe," she said.
She said she'll have to pay taxes on her earnings.
About 15 family members, friends and co-workers watched the show Monday night at her home, she said. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
And yes, she plans to hold her husband, who is vice president of business development of Fidelity Bank on Church Street, to his pledge to try out for "Jeopardy," she said.
Between them, they have four children: Andy Carter, 35, of Williamsburg; Jessica Wright, 30, of Roanoke; Jessica Morris, 15, of the home, who is in the 10th grade at Bassett High School; and Justin Morris, 12, of the home, who is in the sixth grade at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School; and a grandson, Spencer Carter, 2, of Williamsburg.
About 55 people gathered at El Norteno Mexican Restaurant in Martinsville on Tuesday night to watch Stacey Roach compete on "Wheel of Fortune," said Roach, a first-grade teacher at Mt. Olivet Elementary School. The crowd included family members; friends; members of her church, County Line Christian Church; and co-workers. She mentioned Mt. Olivet Elementary School on the show and said, "Go, Lancers," the school mascot.
Roach solved about four out of six puzzles to get to the bonus round. She could have increased her $8,650 in earnings at that point by $30,000 if she had correctly solved the two-word puzzle. With the letters C - R - ME on the board, she correctly guessed the first word, chrome, but missed - - N - S - (finish), and ended with $8,650.
Her husband, Darrin, was in the audience.
She said of being on "Wheel of Fortune": "I was very nervous. It is a whole lot easier (to play) at home than when you are really there."
"... Meeting Pat and Vanna was wonderful. I got to talk to them at the end. They were very friendly and very encouraging to the contestants."
Roach said she has been watching "Wheel of Fortune" since she was maybe 10 years old. She graduated from Laurel Park High School, got a bachelor's degree at Averett College and a master's degree at Radford, and has been teaching at Mt. Olivet for 18 years.
She said she plays a game similar to "Wheel of Fortune" with her students in which they learn how important vowels and consonants are in language skills.
This was Roach's first trip to California, and she and her husband did some sight-seeing. "I got to put my foot in the Pacific and took a picture," she said, adding that she shows her students that picture along with one of the Atlantic Ocean.
She said she watches "Wheel of Fortune" every night and is a member of the Wheel Watchers Club. She tried out to be contestant at a Wheelmobile in Danville on May 22, had a second audition in Roanoke June 23, and was selected to be a contestant. The show taped Aug. 31.
"It was a blessing to go and represent people from Martinsville and Henry County. I really hope everybody feels like I represented them well. I'm thankful for everybody's support," Roach said.
As for her winnings, "We're not sure what we're going to do with it (the money) yet," she said.
Contestants have to pay their airfare, accommodations and food, she said.
"I still came out to the good," she said.
Stacey and Darrin have two children, Tanner, 9, and Tucker, 5. "They are very proud of their mom," she said.
The "Wheel of Fortune" website says: "Last year, over a million people requested the chance to audition for Wheel of Fortune. Fewer than 600 people were selected to appear on the show."