How to Become a Game Show Contestant From Someone Who Actually Was One

Have you ever envisioned yourself spinning the wheel for real, racing around the world, or putting that Thursday night trivia knowledge to the ultimate test? 

If the answer is yes, then let’s make it happen!

At this point, you’re probably thinking okay, if only it were that simple, I would have done it! And also, why am I taking advice from a blog article?

First of all, it is that simple—just apply. Now, easy is another thing. And that’s where I come in, as the writer of said random blog article. 

I’ve applied to two game shows and have been a contestant on one. For the record, the other show I applied for, Nailed It!, decided not to return for the season I had applied for. And I may be a bit biased, but I nailed (yep, I just did that!) the audition video. I like to think you would have seen me and my disastrous baking monstrosity on Netflix if the show had returned for another season. 

While it isn’t the most extensive game show resume out there, it’s definitely longer than anyone I, or probably you, know. That’s my resounding why you should listen to me. 

Alrighty, let’s get to it!

The Odds Are Against You

Wait, don’t stop reading! I have a reason for this lead-in; hear me out.

I was chosen for one of the most popular game shows to get on, Wheel of Fortune.

Over a million people a year apply to be on Wheel of Fortune, and only 10,000 (1%) are selected for an audition. From that number, 600 make it on the show. According to Ken Jennings, you have an eight times higher chance of getting into Yale or Harvard than on Jeopardy. And you know if Ken Jennings is stating those stats, they’ve gotta be correct. 

If WOF, Jeopardy, or any of the other well-known game shows are on your game show bucket list, then don’t let the odds scare you off. Just know that you must find ways to stand out in the sea of other hopefuls. 

On the flip side, many other game shows are a lot less competitive to get on. In fact, with new shows being developed seemingly all the time, there is always a need for contestants, and since many people are talkers more than doers, you are already one step ahead of the game. 

And remember, thousands of contestants live out their game show dreams each year. Why shouldn’t one of them be you?

Be Prepared

This may seem like a no-brainer, but we’ve all seen the flubs people make on television. It’s so much easier to yell out answers from the comfort of your couch than on stage.

For Wheel of Fortune, we had 30 minutes to film the show. Outside of significant issues, there are no reshoots. It’s one big take. You are on a countdown to solve each puzzle in front of a studio audience, with bright and hot lights beaming down on you. At the same time, you are expected to smile, laugh, clap, spin a wheel, know which letters have already been called (those are graciously provided off to the left, which explains those random glances to the left), and have your brain try to process the most pressure-filled game of hangman you will ever play. 

The auditions are meant to mimic that atmosphere so they can weed out players who seem frazzled, don’t maintain an upbeat demeanor, don’t speak loudly or confidently, and, most importantly, don’t truly understand the game’s rules. 

The best way to combat that is to be prepared. 

Watch A LOT of episodes. You pretty much want to know all of the host’s quirks like the back of your hand. 

Practice. The big game shows have online versions you can play, as well as good old-fashioned board games. Otherwise, you can create your own version to practice at home. 

Get used to speaking in front of others. This is often overlooked, as excellent gameplay can all be for naught if you aren’t comfortable talking confidently with and in front of others. 

Toastmasters is an organization where you practice public speaking, and it can give you an edge. 

Be Authentically You 

With thousands of applicants, how can you stand out in front of the casting team? Showcase who you are and what only you can bring to the table. 

And yes, I promise everyone has something unique about them!

The best part of the application process is that you have multiple opportunities to showcase why you should be selected, from the online application to video submissions. Is there an interesting story you can share relevant to the game show, a fun fact that makes you stand out, or even a background that makes you shine?

When I submitted my video to Wheel of Fortune, I played up my love of words. I had my word blanket behind me (yes, I have a word blanket!), with a book on the table next to me that had been fashioned into a large “L” (for my first name), along with sharing how I was receiving my graduate degree in English. I made it apparent that I was a proud word nerd.

They don’t even necessarily need to be directly related to the show. I shared that my husband and I were on a mission to visit all of the major league ballparks, a fact that Pat and I chatted about on the show, on and off camera. 

I often think about all the returning champions on Jeopardy and all the random things they talk about while chatting with the host. If they have that many, you definitely have a few as well.

Bonus Tips

Get it? Like the Bonus Round! To be clear, I said I loved words, not that I was good at making jokes with them!

Be prepared, but don’t take the fun out of it. For example, one of the people I auditioned with had a prepared script. When they introduced themselves, it felt exactly like that – a script. Know your stuff, but also be able to go with the flow.

Apply for a game show that fits your interests and personality. I once heard someone record a generic video submission they submitted to multiple shows. Don’t do that. Casting wants to find people who are enthusiastic about being on their show. You are more likely to stand out when you are genuinely excited about solving word puzzles, shouting out, “No Whammy!” (if you know, you know!) or taking part in physical challenges. 

Don’t give up if you don’t make it the first time. So many people in all different facets of life try something once, and if they aren’t successful, they give up. If you want something bad enough, you will try again. After my first tryout, I didn’t make it on the show, but I tried again. I had a much better idea of what to expect, which gave me the confidence to put my best foot forward. 

My last piece of advice is to have fun and enjoy the process. Actually, that’s my life advice as well, so you got a twofer! 

Good luck, and I hope to see you on one of my game show-watching binges!

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