Breezy Point woman appears on ‘Wheel of Fortune’
Tune in - her episode airs Thursday, May 18
BREEZY POINT — Sandy Brown and her parents have always played “Wheel of Fortune” whenever they’re together. At ages 92 and 88, her parents are still good players.
“But I would always beat both of them,” Brown said. “I’m just pretty good at the game, and every time I was with him my Dad would go: ‘Sandy, you need to get on that show.’”
And she finally did.
Brown, who taught choir to grades 6-12 in Pequot Lakes right out of college and is a former Brainerd Dispatch reporter, now lives with her husband, Terry Kubalak, in Breezy Point for half the year and in Florida for half the year.
They flew to California in March for Brown to compete on the show.
Her episode airs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18, on WCCO-TV. She’s hosting a watch party from 6-8 p.m. at JJ’s Pub at the Commander Restaurant & Bar in Breezy Point.
When I got the call, I started watching every night. And then I’d go online and watch past seasons of past shows, over and over. I was just relentless, just obsessive about it.
Brown’s path to becoming a contestant started in September 2021, when an item caught her eye when she was surfing on her phone — if you want to be on “Wheel of Fortune,” submit a video here.
An entertainer — she performed in nearly every musical in the 1980s with Brainerd Community College theater, spent four years singing and dancing on cruise ships, as well as sang and acted in numerous other productions — Brown decided to try a creative video.
She was in her Breezy Point studio, so she grabbed a puppet and sang a song while playing her keyboard dressed in a Minnesota Vikings shirt.
“I thought, ‘I have to submit this video,’” Brown said with a laugh.
So she did, only showing it to her husband sometime later.
A year and a half passed, and Brown forgot about the video — until she received a phone call this past March that said “Burbank, California” on the screen. She thought it was a spam call, but answered.
When the caller asked if she was the Sandy who was interested in being on “Wheel of Fortune,” she was flabbergasted.
That led to an online call via Zoom with 10 potential contestants playing the game, and then another Zoom call with three potential contestants. Next came individual 90-second timed tests.
I thought, what if I get up there — and I don’t care how good I am — and I just freeze. I was so afraid of that — that I’d look like an absolute fool on national TV.
Brown had a feeling she’d be called, and she was. She and her husband scrambled to book flights and a hotel and traveled to Sony Studios in Culver City, California.
“When I got the call, I started watching every night,” Brown said of how she prepared. “And then I’d go online and watch past seasons of past shows, over and over. I was just relentless, just obsessive about it.”
When they got to Culver City, she got scared.
“I thought, what if I get up there — and I don’t care how good I am — and I just freeze,” Brown said. “I was so afraid of that — that I’d look like an absolute fool on national TV.”
They did a week of shows in one day with contestants arriving at the studio at 6 a.m. to get their hair and makeup done. Brown wore her own clothes.
“I’d been watching the show and I noticed that women generally wore solid shirts with blazers because you have to clip your microphone on something,” she said.
The contestants were just interesting, fun people — all walks of life, all over the country, all had great stories. It was just really fun meeting them.
Her takeaways from her appearance include:
- The studio is much smaller than it appears on TV. Contestants are far away from the audience, with about 50 people up in a corner.
- The wheel is smaller but heavier than she thought. Contestants did practice rounds to learn how to spin the wheel.
- The nametags — Brown still has hers — are flimsier than they look.
- The platforms contestants stand on are hydraulic so they’re all the same height.
- Vanna White is shorter and tinier than she looks on TV. “She could not have been more gracious,” Brown said, noting she introduced herself to contestants wearing no makeup and with her hair slicked back. She was comfortable and confident.
- Host Pat Sajak was also gracious and charming. “You didn’t feel like he was some out of touch superstar,” Brown said.
- “The contestants were just interesting, fun people — all walks of life, all over the country, all had great stories. It was just really fun meeting them,” Brown said.
- The time flew, and the 20 minutes of the show were some of the fastest of her life.
- Contestants were constantly told to talk loudly and with energy. Even as an entertainer, Brown had to work hard to be loud enough.
“I wish everyone could experience that once,” she said of her adventure on her favorite game show. “Now I look at the show completely differently than before.”
How did Brown do against her two fellow contestants — did she win any puzzles? Did she make it to the bonus round? Did she embarrass herself?
She’s not allowed to tell, so you’ll have to tune in Thursday and see for yourself.
Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.