South Lake Tahoe man calls appearance on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ a ‘chance of a lifetime’ |

South Lake Tahoe man calls appearance on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ a ‘chance of a lifetime’

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer
Todd Eiesland

In an online diary, Todd Eiesland calls his appearance this week on the game show “Wheel of Fortune” “the chance of a lifetime.”

“It had been a long wait, but it was worth it,” he said.

Eiesland, who works in Gardnerville for the Washoe Tribe’s human resources coordinator and lives in South Lake Tahoe, said he has wanted to appear on the show for 20 years. He tried out three times during the past 10 years before finally being chosen after attending a “Wheelmobile” promotional event in Reno.

“It’s one of my favorite game shows. I just like the concept,” he said.

The syndicated show, taped Sept. 15, aired Monday. Eiesland won $21,000, however, “I hosed it during the bonus round,” he lamented.

“Wheel of Fortune” is on KOLO-TV channel 8 weeknights at 7:30.

One of the highlights of the experience was meeting Vanna White: “I made Vanna come over, and said ‘Girlfriend, come gimme a hug,'” he said.

Show hosts White and Pat Sajak greet the contestants before taping. Eiesland also spoke briefly with Sajak after the taping. Each episode takes 45 minutes to complete, but is edited down to 22 minutes for airing in a 30-minute time slot with commercials.

Behind-the-scenes staff were “very nice and supportive,” he said. “They want you to succeed.”

The strangest experience occurred before the show when he had his stage makeup airbrushed on. He also had to wear “lip stuff with a hint of color.”

“We couldn’t touch our faces,” he said. “And they kept powdering us down.”

An aficionado of what he describes as “busy” shirts and ties, he brought a shirt he thought would be in keeping with the show’s theme this week, “International Flavors.” But it was deemed too busy with its map-like print by the camera operator, and he was asked to put on something more subdued. Contestants are asked to bring an extra outfit in case one isn’t camera-friendly, he said.

Prizes offered during International Flavors Week include a new 2006 BMW X3 and Nissan 350Z convertible and trips to food festivals around the world.

The show’s premise comes partially from the game Hangman, which consists of figuring out a word by guessing letters one by one. Its major element of chance is having contestants spin a roulette-style wheel for value amounts, though many additions have been made to the game since its inception in the 1970s.

“It was an incredible experience,” he added. “I wanted to be on TV and on the show. Getting paid was just a bonus.” Even without winning, all contestants receive $1,000 minimum.

Eiesland wrote about his experience, which included taking his sons, ages 12 and 15, with him to Los Angeles for the taping. His wife had to work, so the experience was an “all-boys road trip.”

Visit to read about events leading up to Eisland’s appearance and some of the family’s experiences on the road, which he summed up as “an incredible journey.”

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.

For your information

Visit to read about events leading up to Todd Eiesland’s appearance on the show and about some of his and his sons’ experiences on the road, as well as what transpired while he was at Sony Studios.