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Martinsburg man spins 'Wheel of Fortune'

Raymond Weber, who teaches at Salem Avenue Elementary in Hagerstown, will appear Friday on popular game show

January 02, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Raymond Weber and his mother, Jill, are shown on the set of "Wheel of Fortune."
Submitted photo

Millions watch it and millions want to be on it, but a school teacher from Martinsburg, W.Va., was among the fortunate few to make the cut as a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune.”

“I’ve always been watching it with my family, my parents. It’s always been a little competition,” said Raymond Weber, whose turn at the wheel will be this Friday at 7 p.m. when he spins for cash and prizes.

Six million people apply online each year for the chance at appearing with host Pat Sajak and hostess Vanna White, said Weber, 26, a fifth-grade teacher at Salem Avenue Elementary School in Hagerstown.

Weber decided to give it a shot in 2011 and last summer received an e-mail inviting him to an audition at the Gaylord Hotel in Washington, D.C. He drove down with a sister, Katie, and her best friend and found about 70 would-be contestants at the try out.

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The process began with contestants being asked to stand up and answer questions, do puzzles and call out letters, Weber said. It was a way for the show’s producers to gauge enthusiasm and personality, he said.

“They’re very excited and in your face, trying to get you pumped up,” Weber said.

One question asked of the group by the people running the audition was for an example of a “same name puzzle,” Weber said.

“Georgia peach cobbler,” Weber answered, using an example his sister used on the ride down. That got him an autographed photo of White, he said.

Applicants were also given a series of partially-solved puzzles on paper to try to solve within a just a few minutes, Weber said.

After that, he and 15 other people were called back for a second round, breaking into contestant groups and playing “Wheel” games, he said.

Weber was told he would get a letter within two weeks if he was selected as a contest. He checked the mail daily, but it did not come and Weber figured he was passed over.

The letter arrived about a month after the audition, he said. Weber flew out to Los Angeles with his mother, Jill, and sisters Katie and Nikki for the taping in late October.

Vanna White, in sweats and sans makeup, came out and met with contestants before taping, Weber said.

“She was just as nice as can be,” he said of White, the show’s hostess for 30 years.

“Pat you don’t meet until the minute he comes out,” Weber said of Sajak, who engages contestants in banter during the show and chats with them during breaks in taping built in for commercials.

How did Weber do?

Weber said he is not allowed to reveal the outcome until the show airs. He will be watching the show with family and friends this Friday at Benny’s Pub in Hagerstown.

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