Air Force spouse featured on 'Wheel of Fortune'

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sarah Brown
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
The spouse of an NCO stationed here made her national television debut as a "Wheel of Fortune" contestant Feb. 6.

Rebecca Sander, wife of Tech. Sgt Jeffery Sander, was on the show as part of its "Military Spouse Week."

After seeing an advertisement on Facebook for military spouse auditions for the show, Sander said she made a "spur-of-the-moment decision." She called the number in the advertisement, leaving her contact information. Two weeks later, she got a call that she'd been selected to audition.

"I thought it was a telemarketer calling at first," Sander said. "I was so excited, I called everyone I knew."

She made the drive to Southern California to participate in the five-hour tryout process.

"We got to play mock Wheel of Fortune games and had to take a test with puzzles, where you had to do as many as you could in five minutes," she explained.

After the tests were graded, they dismissed about three-quarters of the group.

"After that first round, we played another more intense round of games, where you pretend you're actually on the show, introduce yourselves and practice spinning the wheel," Sander said. "They were looking for someone who's upbeat and has a good personality."

Potential candidates were told to expect a letter in the mail. When a few months had gone by with no word, Sander thought she didn't make it. Then, in mid-December, she received a call that she had been selected.

The notice came about two days before her husband was scheduled to deploy.

"I was upset when I got the call because I wanted my husband to be there," she said. "My husband spent all day at the travel office trying to get his ticket switched so he could come with me to the taping."

The Sander family was able to make the trip together, and, on the day of the show taping, both Rebecca's mother and husband were in the live studio audience.

"Everything went so fast," she said. "I went through all the legalities, signed a contract, they explained the rules on cheating and we got a tour of the studio. We had make-up people and everything.

"I was really nervous to do my intro and I wanted to win enough money to help my mom with the cost of the trip," Sander continued. "I kept going through my head what I was going to say. We started playing and, all of a sudden, it was over. I won $3,000 and the first toss up and solved one of the puzzles."

The puzzle was song lyrics from the Star Spangled Banner.

Although Sander and her husband watch "Wheel of Fortune" regularly, she said there were still some surprises on the set.

"The wheel itself is very small, a lot smaller than it looks on TV," Sander said. "It's so funny ... This woman walked in, and she looked like a normal, pretty woman; she had on no makeup, hair in a ponytail, but it was Vanna White. If she had walked up to me on the street, I wouldn't have recognized her."

Despite her nerves, Sander said her family had a great time meeting the crew and hosts of the show.

"Pat is the nicest guy; he's a veteran, and he talked to us like were everyday people, making jokes and telling us not to be nervous," she said. "It was nice that he was so personable."

This is the first time "Wheel of Fortune" has dedicated the show to military spouses to honor their sacrifices in support of their loved one's service in the armed forces.