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Television: Pawleys woman takes a spin on game show

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Michele Battaglino’s dream is coming true: She’s going to be a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune.”

The taped show will air Tuesday at 7 p.m. on WBTW, and she is a bundle of nerves.

“I’m petrified to watch it,” said Battaglino, a resident of Ricefields.

Battaglino has gone to “Wheel” tryouts for 20 years, trying to qualify for the show. The last couple of auditions were at Coastal Grand Mall where she solved a puzzle but felt disappointed again after being seemingly passed over. She was told her name would go into a barrel with others and some would be selected for auditions.

She was thrilled when she got an e-mail inviting her to a “private audition” with 50 others in North Myrtle Beach. “Who knew?” she said. “It’s weird how it all fell into place.”

When Battaglino solved the puzzle “Your luck is about to change,” she had a feeling that she was going to be selected.

“Something hit me,” she said.

Though she drew a blank during the interview, she solved as many puzzles as she could on a written test.

“It was fun,” she said. “Everybody was really enthusiastic. I made sure to shake their hands and say thank you.”

The show’s employees at the tryouts — Vanna White and Pat Sajak didn’t appear until the actual taping — told the hopeful people that they would get a letter in about two weeks if they were selected.

“I started watching the mail the next day,” Battaglino said. “Nobody wanted to be on that show as badly as I did.”

After three weeks of watching her mailbox, she was rewarded with a letter from “Wheel of Fortune.”

“The whole neighborhood heard me scream,” Battaglino said. “I didn’t even open the letter until the next day. It said to be on a plane in two weeks for taping July 13.”

Battaglino won’t say how she did on the show other than “very well” despite being a nervous wreck.

She was surprised by the weight of the wheel and how big the moment seemed in person.

“The set is so much closer than I expected,” she said. “And it was hard to focus. Amazing.”

She said her sister got a mild reprimand from the producers for cheering too loudly, but Battaglino said she felt very at ease once the game started.

“I might have been too at ease,” she said. “I forgot my husband’s name, and I grabbed the wheel when I wasn’t supposed to. I just hope I don’t embarrass my family.”

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