“It was a wonderful experience, and I am really excited about tonight’s show,” said Billington, who teaches at Boynton Elementary School in Ringgold. “I’ve watched the show for years and have always wanted to be a contestant.”
Billington’s path to tonight’s show began in June when she waited two days at the annual Riverbend festival in Chattanooga for a chance to audition for the show.
“I filled out the application on that Saturday and dropped it into the barrel, then waited all day, but didn’t get my name called,” Billington said. “I almost didn’t go back on Sunday, but I talked my 13-year-old niece into going with me, and later that day they called my name.”
Billington says she participated in a short version of the game that day and was called back to a secondary audition weeks later at The Chattanoogan Hotel.
“The audition at the Chattanoogan was a little different. They had us complete a bunch of puzzles that were sort of a testing for the show,” Billington said. “I thought for sure I was a goner.”
After numerous puzzles and a summer-long auditioning process, Billington says she finally got the call she’d been hoping for for years.
“I was actually on my way to Myrtle Beach when I got a phone call from a lady at ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ asking me if I could be part of a taping on Oct. 27,” Billington said. “I was so excited… It was very surreal.”
Billington says that she, along with her mother and a family friend, traveled to California for the taping.
“They actually tape six shows in one day, and I was in the fifth show, so we got to sit and watch other tapings,” Billington said. “When I got up there, I got to stand right next to Pat (Sajak), which was great. He’s very kind and of course Vanna (White) was very beautiful and very skinny. It’s always been my favorite show, so it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
As for tonight’s airing, Billington says she will gather to watch the show with approximately 50 members of her friends and family.
“We’re all getting together at another teacher’s house to watch, so it’s very exciting,” she said. “It’s funny be-cause every year I introduce myself to my students and tell them that one of my goals in life is to be on that show, and from now on I can start each year by telling them that I have been on that show.”
Tonight’s show will air at 7 p.m. on WTVC.