GENEVA — Lindsay Cooley is a devoted “Wheel of Fortune” fan.
The 2003 Geneva High School graduate has fond memories of watching the Pat Sajak-hosted game show religiously while growing up; she still tapes it daily. Cooley said she has always loved English and joked that “Wheel of Fortune” was “a game I could win.”
The Geneva native relocated to Los Angeles 12 years ago after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in advertising and marketing communications — she now owns her own firm and works as a talent agent, representing models and actors for television, print and billboard gigs. However, it never occurred to her to audition for her favorite game show, which is taped near her home, until the fall of 2019.
Cooley took the leap, recorded an audition tape on her phone, and submitted it to the “Wheel of Fortune” website. She received a polite form letter in return, informing her the show receives requests from millions of wannabe players a year. Several days later, though, she was contacted to visit the game show for a live audition.
Cooley said the process was lengthy. There was a casting call that lasted several hours, involving some mock games and a written test. Ultimately, she was selected as a player, with her game to be taped last March. Then COVID-19 hit.
“I was thinking I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go on,” she said.
In the fall, Cooley’s time had come, and her appearance was taped Oct. 21. COVID precautions certainly changed the vibe. There was no live audience, she said, and no professional hair and makeup preparation. Still, spinning that wheel in person was an unbelievable dream come true.
“Just the whole experience, that’s what meant the most to me,” she said, adding she won the first two rounds and more than $3,000 but did not advance to the bonus round.
Cooley’s parents no longer reside in Geneva; her father, Jeff, lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and her mother, Claudette, lives near her in Orange County. Although they could not be in the audience the day their daughter played, they both were waiting for her outside with champagne to mark the occasion.
The show aired Jan. 7, although it was blacked out in the Rochester market because a Buffalo Bills special aired during the time slot “Wheel of Fortune” normal airs. Still, family and friends recorded it.
“I know a lot of people who definitely saw it,” she said.
Being preempted did not bother this lifelong Bills fan, who has started a customized Bills clothing line — www.instagram.com/billievebuffalo/ — given the extra time she now has due to the downturn in the advertising field.
Ironically, even though the show was taped in October, Cooley gave a shout-out to the Bills at the time ... unaware they would become legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
“I thought by the time they air this I won’t know if our season would be good or bad,” she said.
Rules prevent Cooley from appearing on “Wheel of Fortune” again; she said the only other game that interests her is the amateur version of the Food Network show “Chopped.”
For those who share her dream of appearing on “Wheel of Fortune,” Cooley has this advice: Do it now! Given COVID restrictions, auditions are being held online, so if selected you don’t have to test in person.
“It was really fun,” Cooley concluded.