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posted: Mon, Mar 23rd, 2015


Teacher to appear on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Jamie Greifenberger is terrified to fly. She can trace the roots of that fear to a particularly turbulent flight when she was about 10-years-old. Since then, it’s been two decades of land vacations to exotic locales such as Philadelphia and Yonkers, New York.

Ms. Greifenberger's self-imposed moratorium on air travel ends during the week of March 23. While it might not be a cure for her aerophobia, an invitation to appear on “Wheel of Fortune” certainly seems like an effective treatment.

The energetic and bubbly math teacher will play the game on March 26 in Los Angeles. The episode will be telecast the week of May 4 during the iconic show’s Mother’s Day week. (She has a 4-year-old son named Jake.) 

Appearing on “Wheel of Fortune” is a dream come true for Ms. Greifenberger, a serious game aficionado ever since she was a child.

“I’m a very competitive person,” she said. “I love games and game shows. I’ve always loved word puzzles and cryptograms. This is such an exciting opportunity.” 

The path to appearing on “Wheel of Fortune” has been a long one. Ms. Greifenberger has applied every year since she was 18. In the spring of 2014, she finally was asked to shoot a one-minute video and send it into the show for review. (The producers were no doubt tired of getting her annual applications.)

Then it was on to the in-person group tryouts. In a hotel in Brooklyn over the summer, she joined about 70 other potential contestants. The arduous process included mock rounds of “Wheel” and a written test. She knew she had done well on the written portion. During the first round of game play, however, nervousness got the best of her and she selected a letter that had already been called. (Watch that used letter board!) She did go on to solve the puzzle, but that one flub haunted her. 

“I thought, That’s it, I’m done,” she said.

The contestant coordinators announced that applicants who were selected to be contestants would receive letters two weeks after the audition. After that notification date quietly came and went, Ms. Greifenberger was sure the dream was over. Another two weeks would pass before she finally received her acceptance letter in late August.

Fast forward SEVEN months. With husband Jeremy in the audience for support, Ms. Greifenberger will be on stage with Pat and Vanna and a giant wheel later this week.

“My goal is to have fun,” said Ms. Greifenberger, who will be in Los Angeles for the first time. “No matter what happens, I am focused on enjoying the experience. It’s something not a lot of people get to do.”

Friends and family won’t know the details of her performance until the show is broadcast. The contestants are forbidden to divulge any information until after their episodes are telecast. 

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