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Chillicothe News - Chillicothe, MO
  • A lucky spin: Local woman lands spot on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

  • For Cristina Livingston, “Wheel of Fortune” is something that has been a part of her life since she was a young girl.
    “I grew up watching it with my grandparents,” Livingston said. “It was part of my grandparents' daily routine, so I started watching it young and it just kind of became part of my routine.”
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  • For Cristina Livingston, “Wheel of Fortune” is something that has been a part of her life since she was a young girl.
    “I grew up watching it with my grandparents,” Livingston said. “It was part of my grandparents' daily routine, so I started watching it young and it just kind of became part of my routine.”
    That routine didn’t stop. Throughout her life, Livingston has been a fan of the show. Several years ago, she even mused the idea that she would to be a contestant on the show someday.
    “I jokingly made the comment to my mom and dad that I was going to be on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ someday. We were all watching the show and everybody just kind of chuckled,” Livingston recounted. “It's one of those things where, yeah, I think everybody would think it would be great to be on ‘Wheel of Fortune’ but it's not just that easy.”
    What started as a small joke, however, turned to reality.
    While watching the show in the spring of 2013, Livingston said there was an advertisement that tryouts for contestants would be in Kansas City.  Deciding that it would be the opportunity of a lifetime, Livingston attended the tryouts in June 2013.
    The first round was held in the KC Live! area in the Kansas City Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City. The attendees completed forms and dropped them into a bucket, from which names were drawn out at random. The lucky contestants that were picked went through the process of solving a puzzle on stage, similar to what the on-set experience of the show would be. As fate would have it, Livingston's name was drawn from the bucket and she was able to audition.
    In September 2013, Livingston said she found out she had made it to the second round of auditions. Once again, Livingston traveled to Kansas City for the group audition. She was part of a group of about 60 people also trying out, where the group called letters, bought vowels and solved puzzles. Then, the individuals completed a written puzzle solving test. Following a short break, the group was then cut in half to play a more realistic simulated version of the game where the contestants played the wheel in front of the other auditioners. Livingston said that part of this process was to show the energy and drive, as well as skill, that they were looking for. After completing the audition, Livingston said they would find out whether or not they made the show in a couple of weeks.
    “They had told us when we left the auditions that you would know within two weeks if you made it or not,” Livingston explained. “If you got a letter in the mail, you made it. If you didn't get a letter, you didn't make it.”
    Page 2 of 2 - When the two-week mark hit and Livingston did not have a letter in her mailbox, she said she thought she could count herself out. A couple days later, however, she received her letter.
    “I was overly ecstatic when I found out I made it,” Livingston said.
    Though she had traveled to Kansas City twice for tryouts, she said she hadn't told very many people about her decision to try out until she knew she had actually made the show. When she was able to share that information with her friends and family, Livingston said she was met with excitement and support.
    “A lot of people were taken aback,” Livingston laughed. “There was a lot of excitement of course, and a lot of questions as far as how good I did, which I can't answer.”
    Livingston traveled to the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ studio in California for the taping on Feb. 13. She said that throughout the day, six episodes were taped, and she was with about 20 people for the day of the taping. Though she is unable to discuss many details of the day until after the episode airs on April 17, Livingston said the day was one she will never forget.
    “It was just awesome,” Livingston said. “The energy, the excitement ... It was really cool to be with those people and kind of hear their stories, what got them there, and to be able to cheer them on while they were taping their show. That was a very neat experience.”
    Livingston added that she researched the “Wheel of Fortune” audition process and found out just how rare her opportunity to be on the show was. In one year, over one million people audition, but only about 600 of those who audition actually become contestants on the show.
    “The whole experience was just surreal, it was hard to believe that I was there,” Livingston said.
    Livingston is a Chillicothe native, who graduated from Chillicothe High School in 1999. She received her undergraduate and master's degrees in business management from Northwest Missouri State University, and moved to Des Moines, Iowa, for about 10 years to work for Wells Fargo. She moved back to Chillicothe about a year and a half ago.
    Her episode will air Thursday, April 17.

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