For those tuning in to Wheel of Fortune this week, a familiar face will be on the screen.
On Wednesday, Tasha Raquepo will be representing Williamsburg on Wheel of Fortune to solve puzzles in a chance to win prize money.
“It was truly amazing,” she said. “I’m a third generation Wheel watcher. I watch it all the time with my mom and grandmother, and I never guessed I would’ve been on it.”
In fall 2018, Raquepo attended a “Wheelmobile” event in Richmond where guests entered their name into a drawing and played a mock game of Wheel of Fortune. Raquepo and her mother both were selected to participate in the event but months after the experience, Raquepo received a call from the show to attend an audition in Richmond.
Raquepo said she never expected the call for the first audition and she definitely didn’t expect to be called back for a second audition. But after playing mock rounds of a show she had watched her whole life, she was selected to appear on the real thing.
“My family has always loved playing games, we’re quite competitive,” she said with a laugh. “So it was surreal to have this opportunity.”
After learning she had been selected, she said the show sent her tips and practice information in the mail so she could prepare. As a longtime Wheel watcher, there were some aspects she already knew but she said it was interesting to see things from the perspective of the show.
“It’s a lot different feeling being on the show than playing at home,” she said.
In the summer, Raquepo, her husband and her mother flew out to California to film her episode. Unfortunately, Raquepo said, her grandmother had died before the recording but she was still excited to participate in something she had shared with her for so long.
Raquepo said she stayed at a hotel suggested by the show where she got to know some of the other contestants. Wheel of Fortune records six episodes a day — three in the morning and three in the afternoon. As a result there are contestants who come from all over the country with different backgrounds.
For Raquepo, the experience became all the more real when she stepped onto the set.
“I told myself I wasn’t going to be nervous because then I wouldn’t be able to focus,” she said. “But when I got onto stage, I started to get nervous because I was so close to [Pat Sajak].”
Raquepo is participating in the show’s “California Coast” week, which features landmarks from across the state’s coast, according to a news release from Kyle Montplaisir, public relations manager for the show.
Raquepo said the game was harder on set than simply playing at home because there were so many aspects on which she had to focus. She said there’s the letter board, the board with letters previously used and then, of course, the scoreboard.
Until the show airs, Raquepo is not able to share the results of her time playing but she said she is excited to share the experience with her family. On Wednesday, she will have a watch party with her family and then she’ll have a gathering to watch the episode again with friends the following weekend.
“Honestly, I’ll probably be laughing at myself,” she said. “But if given the opportunity, I would definitely do it again.”
Wheel of Fortune will air on ABC 13 at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.