Puyallup resident Stephanie Haegele has watched “Wheel of Fortune” for as long as she can remember.
“I’ve probably watched it from season one — for 35 years,” said Haegele, 44. “I’m kind of a word-game person. I like doing crosswords and things like that.”
Growing up, she would play word games with her family and watch “Wheel of Fortune.”
I’ve probably watched it from season one — for 35 years. I’m kind of a word game person. I like doing crosswords and things like that.
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“It was a little bit competitive. We’d see who could solve the puzzle first,” she said.
On Feb. 26, a few of those friends and family members gathered at Haegele’s home in Puyallup for a viewing party to watch Haegele’s“Wheel of Fortune” episode. The episode was filmed at the end of January in Los Angeles.
“It was fun to watch and finally be able to talk about it,” she said. “I honestly couldn’t remember some pieces of (filming) because it was an out-of-body experience.”
As Pat Sajak and Vanna White approached to meet their new round of contestants, Haegele introduced herself as a Puyallup resident with 20 years of teaching under her belt.
“I am married to my best friend and partner in life, Dan, and we have two adorable children,” she said. Ellie is 7 months old and Henry is 22 months old.
Haegele has lived in Puyallup all her life and graduated from Puyallup High School in 1991. She teaches math online with Washington Virtual Academies and formerly taught in the Puyallup School District. Dan Haegele is also a teacher at Edgemont Junior High.
Haegele applied to be on the show in Tacoma over the summer and was called back in August.
“I had a pretty good feeling after the second audition,” she said. “From there, it was kind of a wait-and-see.”
When the letter came in the mail saying she’d been selected, she was excited. But after being trained, it was clear that being on the show was very different than playing from home.
“You’ve got so many things going on in your head,” she said. “Every once in awhile you’re thinking about the puzzle, then you gotta spin the wheel — ‘Oh, it’s my turn.’ Throughout all that it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m on camera. I need to be smiling.’ You’ve got all these things bumping around in your head.”
But everything flowed smoothly.
“The people behind the scenes were really cool. They were a lot of fun — supportive and positive,” she said. “That felt good and made the experience that much more enjoyable.”
Haegele won a trip to Barbados and advanced to the bonus round with $26,390
Haegele won a trip to Barbados and advanced to the bonus round with $26,390. As she approached the puzzle board, she turned to Sajak.
“Is this really happening?” she remembered asking him. She can’t remember if he responded.
And while the final puzzle evaded her, Haegele said it was a great experience.
“Even if I hadn’t won, it would have just been an experience of a lifetime,” she said. “It’s a dream come true to even be on the show.”
Haegele plans to use her winnings on traveling.
“We’re going to certainly look into enjoying that vacation to Barbados,” she said.