LITTLE ROCK Jenna Morehart of Conway didn't find her fortune on the Wheel, but she did find a trip to Paris.
Morehart, 24, is still stunned that she was picked to be on Wheel Of Fortune and that she won money and a trip at a game "I'm terrible at," she said.
Her episode of Wheel Of Fortune will air at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on KATV Channel 7.
Morehart said her husband, Tyler, is a fan of the game show. "He watches it and was just dying to beon the show," she said.
When the show came to Conway in November to audition contestants, "he was begging me to come ... and at the last minute I did," she said.
Their names - along with about 2,500 others - were put into a big "lottery-type hopper," she explained.
Her name was drawn randomly, but not her husband's.
"He was freaking out. He was thrilled for me, because he just wanted somebody to be up there," she said. "He's much better than I am- I'm not joking, either."
She didn't solve the sample puzzle, but the game show officials said the tapes would be reviewed for people to be chosen.
"We kind of forgot about it," she said.
She got an e-mail Jan. 8 inviting her to the Capital Hotel in Little Rock for further weeding out of potential contestants.
"We went up there and they had all these different simulated games," she said. She took a fiveminute written test of puzzles, filling in missing letters for words.
"I'm telling you, I did terrible on it," Morehart said.
To her surprise, she made the top 10.
"I thought, 'This is crazy. This is just unbelievable,'" she said, laughing.
The group of game-show wannabes was told to expect a letter telling them if they made the final cut.
Morehart said she was talking to her two sisters on speaker phone on a Friday when a beep let her know she had another call.
"I jokingly said, 'Oh, this is probably Wheel Of Fortune. Let me call you back.'"
It really was Wheel Of Fortune. "I about wet my pants, I said, 'Are you serious?'" Morehart recalled. The woman from the show told Morehart there had been a cancellation and asked if she could come to Los Angeles. Thursday.
"My husband's just cracking up," she said.
So they started scrambling.
She checked with her employer - she is a receptionist for Drs. Brooks Lawrence and Michael Carter in Conway - and frantically had all her family members, including her parents Stan and Mendy Clark in Fort Smith, looking for plane tickets that she and her husband could afford.
She is working at the doctors' office while finishing her master's in biblical studies online through Virginia University of Lynchburg and her husband is getting his physical therapy degree from the University of Central Arkansas. Once he finishes, they plan to apply with the international missions board to go overseas for missions work, she said.
They found two plane tickets and three nights' hotel stay for only $535, she said.
"I'm telling you it was just the Lord. We just prayed and said, 'Is this what you want us to do? is this what you want us to spend our money on?'" she said.
She said the show is harder than it looks just watching. "When you're there, you just have tunnel vision," she said. Morehart said Vanna is "beautiful. She is just very nice, too. She's just got a very sweet disposition about her, and Pat was very nice as well. I didn't get to talk to him much, but he was very friendly.
"I'm terrible at this game, and that's not false modesty," she said. On the first puzzles, she had no idea what the answers were. "I thought, oh my gosh, I'm so nervous, I can't even think. I started praying 'Lord, you're just gonna help me; I can't even think.'"
On a puzzle called Before & After, she kept spinning the wheel, and she kept getting letters turned over on the board by Vanna White.
She landed on a part of the wheel with a wedge that had The Pink Panther 2 on it. She had heard there was a trip to Paris up for grabs, "but I didn't put the two together. I spun and got The Pink Panther 2, and I thought, 'Oh, we got movie tickets.' Honestly," she said. That was actually the trip to Paris, and the new movie is coming Friday with the bumbling French detective.
"It was my turn, and I kept spinning. It's still your turn as long as you're getting letters."
She finally solved it: Recycled, Plastic, Surgeon.
"I knew plastic surgeon, but I was focused on that first word," she said.
Although she didn't win the grand prize, host Pat Sajakcame over and said at the end she'd won $6,850 (before taxes) and a trip to Paris for a total value of $14,350. "I remember looking at my husband and I was just shocked. We were just elated," she said. "I was just really thrilled to solve a puzzle; that was the icing on the cake."
The couple have one year to take the trip, which is six nights, seven days, round-trip airfare and $1,500 in spending money.
Morehart said she and her husband are inviting their international Bible study students over to watch the episode with them.
"I'm nervous and I'm anxious. You don't know when the camera's on you, so I'm hoping I'm not doing something absolutely ridiculous. My family is thrilled; they're counting down the days."
River Valley Ozark, Pages 143, 145 on 02/01/2009