When she was a little girl, Carrollton’s Katy Flinn often sat on her grandfather’s knee and watched one of American’s favorite television shows, “Wheel of Fortune.”
Turning the calendar forward several years, the 29-year old Flinn found herself more than 2,000 miles away from her hometown as a contestant in front of the bright lights of the iconic show’s set at Sony Pictures Television in Culver City, Calif. Standing a few feet away were Pat Sjack and Vanna White, the pop culture legends who have served as hosts of the nighttime version of the show that began in 1983.
After Flinn decided to apply to be a contestant on the show, she began the process with an on-line application, progressed to providing a personal video and then to an hour-long audition via Zoom on May 3. She was then invited in August to be an alternate, but turned down the initial invitation because of a conflict with the date on which the show producers wanted her to appear.
However, another invitation came in early October, and she accepted. The taping was held on Oct. 13 at Sony Pictures Television in Culver City, Calif., less than an hour from her residence in Malibu where she is a residence life director at Pepperdine University.
After having hair and makeup done, Flinn explained that contestants spent time interacting with pop culture legends Sajak and White.
“Both of them were very personable and interacted with us during the breaks,” Flinn noted, “checking to make sure if we were doing okay.”
Flinn explained that the taping of the show was somewhat surreal.
“With the lights in your face, making sure you are always smiling and clapping, well, it was harder than I thought it would be,” she noted.
In regard to the huge carnival wheel that the contestants turn, Flinn said that it was very heavy.
“I had to put my full weight behind it,” she said.
She noted that the set of “Wheel,” which it is now commonly called, was beautiful.
“My segment was taped during their Disney Secret Santa Sweepstakes,” Flinn said, “so the set was beautifully decorated for Christmas.”
The show will air locally on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on WXIA, Channel 11. It’s estimated that approximately 8 million people will be viewing the longest running syndicated game show in American television history.
“By contractural agreement, we are not allowed to say before the show airs how we did,” Flinn explained.
According to the show’s website, all contestants are given a parting gift of $1,000 and receive the money after their show has been broadcast.
“I do have one regret about being on the show,” Flinn said before concluding her phone interview.
“I wish my grandfather was here to see it,” she said.
Leroy Pinkerton passed away last year.
Flinn, the daughter of Michael and Marni Flinn of Carrollton, is a 2010 graduate of Oak Mountain Academy in Carrollton and holds a journalism degree from Samford University and a masters degree in higher education/student affairs from Baylor University.