Behind the Scenes: Wheel of Fortune in Charleston

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February 7, 2007

CHARLESTON, S.C.---Wheel of Fortune has been on the air for more than two decades. Many of you watch it here on News 12 every weekday night.

Seeing a game show over and over, you learn a lot about it. But it's not often you get to go behind the scenes.

That's just what News 12 did when Wheel of Fortune came to South Carolina.

Contestants have won more than $162 million in cash and prizes in the 24 years Wheel's been on the air.

"We make a lot of people happy and rich!" Vanna White smilingly told News 12.

Vanna's been co-hosting the show alongside Pat Sajak almost since it started.

It's a job where a nice smile, a pretty dress, and two hands matter a whole lot.

Did you know Vanna averages about 720 claps per episode?

She keeps smiling as she waits for a chance to light up a letter.

"We used to turn (the letters), and now I just touch these TV monitors," Vanna said.

At the recent taping in Charleston, South Carolina where country music stars were invited along, we got an up close and personal look.

"I'm real excited about spinning the wheel," said country singer Julie Roberts. "That's what I'm most excited about."

The wheel weighs 4,000 pounds. It took more than a dozen semis to bring in the wheel and all the other equipment.

There are many parts to building the Wheel set, including bringing in chairs for audience members.

And when you're in the crowd you're surrounded by cameras, before you and overhead.

Before the show even starts, contestants spin the wheel and shout out letters for practice.

Shannon Bobillo is what you call a "contestant coordinator". Here's how she describes her job:

"Right before the show we warm them up. We have them spin, we have them shout out letters, we get them in the mode, the groove, we get the juices going and the blood flowing and their energy up."

And boy does it work.

For the three days the show was set up at the coliseum in North Charleston, it seemed the contestants in all 15 episodes never slowed down on energy.

While the show's been around for a while, for most, it's a once in a lifetime chance.

"We show no signs of slowing down," Pat Sajak told News 12. "We're in our second, third generation of viewers, and that's great."

This was truly a once and a lifetime chance for me...and also, a contestant from North Augusta.

In our next report, we'll talk with Erin Crawford and also check out the famous faces playing the game for charity.

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