St. Petersburg financial adviser is on 'Wheel of Fortune' tonight
For Ted Hoornstra, the road to becoming a contestant on Wheel of Fortune (something he calls a "bucket list item") was a long one. Hoornstra, a 45-year-old financial adviser based in the Old Northeast area of St. Pete, first auditioned for the show when the Wheelmobile stopped at the Mahaffey Theater -- way back in 2012. He got a chance to go up on stage and answer a question, but the experience didn't lead anywhere -- not until six months later, when he recovered an email from his spam folder about another Wheel of Fortune tryout in Clearwater. After a day of tests, he was among a dozen remaining potential contestants. This was around April 2013, and he was told he'd get a chance to be on the show some time in next 18 months.
In March of this year, he finally got the call, just one week ahead of filming: Can you come out to California to be a contestant on the show?
Hoornstra's episode will air tonight as part of a week celebrating fathers. He has two daughters, a senior at St. Pete High and an 8-year-old who got to come to the filming with him. He can't say much about the results, but he did give up these backstage tidbits:
* That wheel is heavy. It weighs 2,400 pounds.
* Vanna White showed up when the contestants were practicing in the studio and offered this advice: "Buy vowels."
* Wheel tapes multiple shows a day, and the audience doesn't know which contestants are going to be on which show until they walk out.
* There's an exciting moment tonight when Hoornstra lands on a wedge that could either bankrupt him or get him a lot of money.
Before Hoornstra started his own business as a financial adviser, he worked as a local TV sportscaster, including a stint as one of the first sports reporters at Bay News 9 in the '90s.
You can watch Hoornstra on Wheel of Fortune 7 p.m. tonight on WTSP-CH. 10. In the meantime, see if you can spot him around the 0:04 mark in this promo video: