FARGO – Lori Witt has been watching “Wheel of Fortune” since she was a teenager, and on Sunday, she took the stage at Scheels Arena for her audition.
“My heart is still racing,” Witt, 55, of Northfield, Minn., said after her round.
Witt was one of thousands who showed up Saturday and Sunday to apply for an audition, said Matt Erbstein, tour manager for the Wheelmobile.
Anyone who filled out an application could be invited back to meet with the show’s contestant department in a couple of months, but those who were called up to audition -- such as Witt -- might also get a personal recommendation, he said.
There were three auditions each afternoon, and applicant names were drawn at random, which is why 82-year-old Jan Stoffel was shocked when she heard hers.
“I was shaking so,” the retired teacher from Fargo said. “I thought, ‘People are going to think I’m nuts.’ ”
But Stoffel appeared confident when host Marty Lublin requested she sing “Climb Every Mountain” to a crowd of about 200 on Sunday afternoon.
Neither Stoffel nor Witt won their five-person rounds, but both were excited to have correctly guessed a letter.
Do they think they’ll make it to prime time?
“It depends on so much,” Stoffel said. “But then, the fact that I even got this far was really something.”
When the game show returns to Fargo for finals, which are private, judges will “grill” contestants on their puzzle skills, Erbstein said, and look for “natural enthusiasm and energy.”
Chelsea Young, 27, certainly has the latter.
Young was giddy when Witt, her aunt, was called to the stage.
“We watch every night,” Young said of her Moorhead family. Her 6-year-old daughter, Madison, learned her letters from the show.
When Young heard the Wheelmobile was coming to town, she insisted Witt join her at tryouts.
“It’s just been fun,” Witt said, before she was interrupted by a loudspeaker and turned in surprise. “Chelsea Young, they just called your name!”
“No they didn’t,” Young said.
“Yes, they did!” Witt cried, and Young scampered down the bleachers toward her chance at fame.