EVANSTON — Local residents tuning into Wheel of Fortune on Monday, Sept. 17, may see a familiar face when Evanston resident Kendra Lapp makes an appearance on the long-running game show.
Lapp said she’s been watching Wheel of Fortune since she was a child, when she watched the show with her grandparents. She’s always loved to play Scrabble, crossword puzzles and other word games. She said she regularly spends evenings yelling at the television, with phrases like “stop wasting your money on vowels” and “just solve the puzzle” regularly coming out of her mouth. Her husband Ryan repeatedly told her to just audition for the show herself, so she took his advice.
Lapp said she had to submit a video application to be a contestant. Viewers are able to submit a new video every six months, so she did — for two years. She finally received a phone call to attend a live audition in Salt Lake City, where she was one of about 50 people auditioning that day.
Lapp said the live audition included practice solving puzzles in a format similar to the show as well as a number of written word puzzles. She also went through a mock introduction. She said she was surprised when her name was called to remain for a second audition round, after which producers told the aspiring contestants to expect a letter within two weeks if they were selected to be on the show. Her letter arrived on day 13, at which point she said she had given up and assumed she hadn’t made the cut.
She wasn’t given a taping date in the letter but was told she would receive a phone call two weeks beforehand. She was also sworn to secrecy about her pending appearance. She received a phone call at the end of July and she, Ryan and their 8-year-old son Jackson flew to California for her taping on Aug. 9.
“I was so excited Jackson was able to go with us,” Lapp said. “Kids have to be at least 8 to be in the audience and he just had his birthday in June.”
She also expressed her gratitude for her husband.
“Poor Ryan missed a Jack White concert in Salt Lake coming with me.”
Lapp said the experience of taping was different than she expected.
“The studio looks so big on TV, but it’s really not.”
She said she was a bit intimidated to spin the wheel when she found out it weighs 2,400 pounds, “but it doesn’t feel like it when you really spin.”
The experience of TV makeup and wardrobe was also a bit intimidating. Lapp said she had to go shopping to find an outfit that met all the requirements for filming because certain colors and materials weren’t allowed for filming purposes.
Although perhaps a bit overwhelming, Lapp put on her game face when it actually came time to play.
“I expected to be nervous,” she said, “but I really wasn’t. I was in my element.”
The Lapp family has had to keep the secret since the taping more than a month ago, only receiving the go-ahead to discuss her appearance this week, although the outcome is still top-secret information. She said she is especially impressed with 8-year-old Jackson keeping the secret for so long.
She said she’s looking forward to viewing the episode herself.
“Everything is such a blur,” she said. “It went by so fast and it was just surreal.”
To find out how Lapp fared, tune into Wheel of Fortune on Monday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. on KJZZ.