A Lebanon native took home some big bucks from Wheel of Fortune recently.
When music teacher Jamie Gann, now 25, auditioned for Wheel of Fortune at a 2010 Wheelmobile event at Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, he never actually expected to be picked.
“I went all the way through the audition process, but was not chosen for the show,” said Gann. “But then the Wheelmobile came to Knoxville, which is very close to where I live, so I thought ‘well, I’ll try it again, because I know a little bit more of what to expect.'”
That was in April of last year.
“Lo and behold, I got a call-back audition in August and went through the entire process again,” said Gann.
As part of the audition process, Gann had to play several mini-speed-rounds with other potential contestants and pass a written test of more than 50 puzzles from varying categories.
“It’s very intensive,” said Gann.
After completing his call-back audition, show representatives told him he would hear back within two weeks if he was selected.
Two months later, his cellphone rang.
“I was teaching my last class of the day – it was after Thanksgiving – and my cellphone started ringing,” said Gann. “I looked down at it, and I didn’t recognize the number – plus I had a class in my room – so I just shoved it in my pocket and ignored it.”
When he checked his e-mail later that day, he saw an e-mail from Wheel of Fortune representatives asking him to call as soon as possible.
“When I did, they said, ‘We’d love to have you on the show. Can you be here in two weeks?’,” said Gann. “After I stuttered a little bit, I said ‘Yes, of course.’”
Gann filmed his show Dec. 14.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Gann.
The trip for the filming was Gann’s first visit to California, and he happened to visit Hollywood Boulevard while Hugh Jackman was getting his star on the Walk of Fame.
“We got to see him, as well as a lot of the cast of Les Miserables,” said Gann.
Another highlight of the experience for Gann was meeting Pat Sajak, Vanna White and announcer Jim Thornton.
“They were just absolutely fantastic…Nicest people you’d ever want to meet,” said Gann. “They were just very down-to-earth.”
Gann ended up as the big winner on his show, ultimately winning $20,950.
He said he’s thinking about using some of it to pay on student loans, and he definitely wants to contribute some of it to his church, but he also wants to do something fun with it – he just hasn’t quite figured out what that will be yet.
“I’m still trying to convince myself that it’s real,” said Gann.