For Becki and Michael Babcock, the week of Valentine's Day means more than a box of chocolates this year. They'll also be celebrating their appearance on Wheel of Fortune.
The CBS game show has long been a family affair for the Babcocks, who are parents of four. Becki grew up watching Wheel of Fortune with her great-grandmother in New York.
She began to pursue auditioning opportunities for the game show while recovering from knee surgery. They submitted an application and were given a chance to audition in Austin, on their son Matthew’s third birthday.
“We thought we didn’t get on, so I was sending them random messages. I thought they maybe had lost our audition in the mail,” Becki said.
They were invited to compete during Wheel of Fortune’s “Sweethearts Week,” which is filmed at Walt Disney World. Fittingly, the trip to Orlando together wasn’t their first; they had been to the theme park together as high school sweethearts on a senior trip with Becki’s family.
The Babcocks had a simple strategy going into their Wheel appearance.
“She was going to solve all of the puzzles, and I was going to say them out loud,” jokes Michael.
“I get really nervous,” says Becki.
Both say they were a little star-struck meeting hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
“Pat walks out and it’s the real deal,” Michael describes. “You weren't nervous at first and then you see him there, everything just goes.”
“But Pat was really cool,” says Becki, admittedly a bigger Wheel of Fortune fan than her husband. “He would tell you to calm down, just smile big and talk loud.”
“I talk in front of third-graders, so being in front of adults is a different world,” Becki says. Both Becki and Michael are educators. She teaches third-grade at Watts Elementary School. Michael is a biology teacher at Madison High School, where he also coaches the girls’ soccer team.
“We’ve been playing a lot of Wheel of Fortune in the classroom,” says Becki.
Michael says the news of their appearance has the halls of Madison buzzing.
”I’ve had students come into my classroom who I have no idea who they are, telling me ‘Congratulations, I’m going to be watching you on Tuesday.’”
Nerves didn’t keep Becki and Michael from getting off to a strong start. They won the second toss-up of the game, “Warm Banana Bread,” racking up $2000 before even having to spin the wheel.A few unlucky “Bankrupt” spins hurt their chances at taking home the top prize.
In the end, they finished in second place after winning the “Final Spin” puzzle, taking home $11,000. They also brought home lots of memories.
“Definitely memorable. It was a lot of fun,” says Michael.