At a time when reality TV shows have come to dominate the airwaves, UCI students proved on Feb. 17 that they still believe in America’s favorite game show.
As the Wheel of Fortune Wheelmobile rolled onto campus, hundreds of UCI students gathered in front of the flagpoles to buy vowels and spin their way towards the possibility of getting a chance to compete on the actual show.
The Wheelmobile, a 32-foot long and 13-foot high bright yellow bus, travels from city to city across the country, gathering applications from potential contestants.
At each event, fans are given an application to fill out which are then drawn randomly five at a time. These five people are then briefly interviewed and given the opportunity to show off their skills by playing a traveling version of the game. The winners win prizes including hats, T-shirts and water bottles.
David Strathearn, promotion and publicity manager for Sony Pictures Television, explained the reasons behind targeting college students.
‘College students make really good contestants because they’re naturally energetic,’ Strathearn said.
He went on to explain his reasons for coming to UCI in particular.
‘The Wheelmobile doesn’t do too good in the snow so we need to target warm-weather markets in the winter.’
According to Strathearn, out of all those applying, only about 100 would get the opportunity to be interviewed. Depending on how well their interview goes and their knowledge of the show, applicants are then referred to the contestant department. After a round of final auditions, those applicants who exhibit the most potential are invited to compete on the show.
‘It’s really more about quality not quantity,’ Strathearn explained.
Out of over one million people who applied for the show last year, only 600 were actually chosen to compete.
Despite the odds, there was certainly no shortage of UCI students willing to try. Hundreds of students gathered on the steps in front of the Administration Building last Tuesday, either waiting for their names to be called or cheering on their friends who were given the opportunity to compete.
Michael Daus, a fourth-year criminology, law and society major, explained his reasons for applying and how an event like this might benefit UCI students.
‘I like the show and I want to be on TV,’ Daus said. ‘This is especially good for Irvine because it makes something interesting happen.’
Alena Dizdarevic, a fourth-year psychology major, seemed enthusiastic about the possibility of making it onto the show and winning prizes.
‘I love this game,’ Dizdarevic said. ‘I want to win something.’
After a good deal of pleading, Dizdarevic persuaded her friend, Vivienne Ngo, a fourth-year international studies major, to apply.
Ngo commented on the nostalgia attached to such an event.
‘It seems interesting. I want to win stuff,’ Ngo mused. ‘It’s perfect because we grew up on Wheel of Fortune.’
At the end of the tryouts, Strathearn expressed his satisfaction with the outcome.
‘We were able to find several Anteaters who will be going through to the final round of auditions with our contestant department,’ Strathearn said. ‘As long as the students show our contestant coordinators the same energy and enthusiasm they showed us during our event, then we’ll surely be seeing some UCI students on upcoming shows.’
For those of you who missed the auditions last Tuesday, not to worry. Strathearn is confident that the Wheelmobile will be back on campus soon.
‘Trevor Collins from ASUCI stated that it was a great event for the university,’ Strathearn said. ‘We hope to come back again in the future.’
Don’t forget to look for the upcoming College Week on Wheel of Fortune. Wheel of Fortune airs weeknights at 7:30 p.m on ABC.