'Wheel of Fortune' Contestant Finally Appearing on Show Since Being a Fan Starting at Age 5

On Wednesday, an Illinois woman will achieve her lifelong dream of spinning the wheel on Wheel of Fortune. During this week's Great Escapes week, Amanda Harris will attempt to win vacations, new cars and cash after dreaming of appearing on the show ever since she started watching when she was 5 years old.

"My mom was a single mom and worked a lot. I just picked it up with my siblings," Harris told the Joliet Herald-News. "I just wanted to spin the wheel."

Although Harris has been a lifelong fan, she told the Herald-News that she began watching again once she had her own kids (Cordarro Jr., 13; Corion, 12; and Cayden, 4) — all of whom watch with her.

Like plenty of other Wheel of Fortune viewers, she "competes" at home with her husband Cordarro and enters in the show's daily lottery as an in-home viewer with her SPIN ID. Active members of the Wheel Watchers Club receive a SPIN ID (Special Prize Identification Number) and are entered to win money during every episode.

Harris said she's never won with her SPIN ID, but that didn't matter in September when she received an email asking her to submit a video for auditions that Wheel of Fortune was hosting in Chicago.

"It was real quick; I didn't spend a lot of time on the video," she said. "To be honest, I hooked the thing up — I knew I didn't have a lot of time before the kids got home — and I hurried up. It took less than 30 seconds, I believe."

Then in October, she got a follow-up email inviting her to the auditions in Chicago, where a screen and miniature wheel were set up. Harris, a registered nurse who will graduate from Governor's State University in May with a master's degree, nervously told the panel about herself, explaining her ultimate goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner and the fact that she's a foodie.

"That means I like to go out and eat," she told the Herald-News with a laugh. "When I hang out with my friends when I do get a little free time, they ask, 'Where you want to go, Amanda?' I always want to go and have dinner."

At the audition, she played a sample round with other potential contestants, then played a series of written games. After that, about half of the group (not including her) was sent home with the message, "You may or may not get a call." Cautiously optimistic, she played another round ("I made it to the second round. I might be OK," she thought to herself) and then was sent home with the same message.

After anxiously checking her email daily, Harris received the long-awaited email inviting her to set two weeks later. "I opened it and just screamed for, like, 20 minutes," she said.

Despite her excitement to be on the legendary game show, she was riddled with stage fright during the taping in California in December, telling the Herald-News that the lights and cameras were intense.

Fans will have to tune in to Wheel of Fortune Wednesday night to see how she fared.

"People should watch because I'm a little girl who always wanted to be on Wheel of Fortune," Harris said. "I'm a working mom and a full-time student — I'm super busy — but somehow I found time to do that. And it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and dream come true."

Harris' episode of Wheel of Fortune airs Wednesday. Check your local listings for airtime and network information.

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This week marks host Pat Sajak's return to Wheel of Fortune after undergoing emergency surgery in November. Letter-turner Vanna White filled in as host for about three weeks in Sajak's absence, earning praise from Sajak and fans alike along the way.

Photo credit: Eric McCandless / Contributor / Getty