NEW ULM - Despite a complex and competitive struggle, the wife of a former New Ulm resident will be a participant in a live filming of the game-show Wheel of Fortune. RaeAnne Besser, of Montrose, will compete on the show this Friday at the Sony Studios in Los Angeles.
"I still can't believe it, even though we've bought the plane tickets and booked the hotel," said Besser.
Besser describes herself as an avid lover of puzzles. She often works on puzzles and watches puzzle theme shows.
She also works as a clinical research coordinator, which includes the responsibilities of running clinical trials for medical research.
"I'm a complete nerd. I love puzzles and I work in science," Besser said.
Besser said her favorite puzzle show is Wheel of Fortune. When she heard on an episode that an audition was taking place in her area at the Grand Casino Mille Lacs in Onamia, she jumped on the chance to be in the show.
"I told my husband 'We're going.' We pushed our camping trip back a weekend and went," Besser said.
At the Sept. 12 audition, Besser filled out an application along with more than 2,000 other applicants. Participants were then picked at random to take part in the three different one hour trial shows. Besser said she was surprised and pleased when her name was called. Participants then gave a quick blurb about themselves and played a practice version of the show. Besser succeeded, and was told she would be informed if she advances to the final audition in the next few months.
"We were really excited, but I knew she was such a good problem solver that all the judges need to do was see her and they would like her," said Steve Besser, RaeAnne's husband.
Steve grew up in New Ulm, and his parents, Gary and Val, currently reside here.
Shortly after the first try-out, RaeAnne Besser received notice she would compete in the final audition at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Minneapolis on Sept. 29. She was among 80 other potential players, who were quickly culled down to 17 with the addition of a written quiz.
Besser was among those who advanced and competed with the remaining competitors in another practice show. She, along with the other players, was told a letter would be sent in the next three weeks to those selected for the show.
"I never realized it was such a complicated ordeal to get on the show," RaeAnne said.
She said she was lucky on Oct. 8 because she beat her husband home and saw the letter. She said she was screaming on the phone with her aunt in excitement. The letter informed her that she would be called some time in the next 18 months with the date of her filming. She received the call on Nov. 17, asking her to come to Los Angeles for a Dec. 10 shoot.
"I was actually sick that day. I was on the way back to work from the doctor and I thought they were tele-marketers. I was ready to chew them out, but once I answered I realized who it was," Besser said.
Besser said she will fly out early to Los Angeles this Wednesday, Dec. 8, to prevent any complications from snow. Her husband, his parents and her parents will also travel with her and be cheering her from the audience stands. They will be paying for the flight to Los Angeles themselves, but the minimum prize for the show is $1,000 which they expect to cover more than the cost of the trip.
At this time, she does not know what day her show will air on TV. When she arrives at the studio on the day of the shoot, she will be randomly selected for one of the six episodes being shot that day. Her possible show dates are Feb. 22 to 25 and April 18.
In the meantime, Besser is constantly training in preparation for her shoot. Everyday she plays the Wheel of Fortune computer game and watches the show on TV. Her co-workers, who jokingly call themselves her coaches, send her puzzles to work on.
"Hopefully, the more I practice, the less I'll feel nervous on the show," said Besser, "It's not about the money for me. I just want to be able to say 'I was on Wheel of Fortune.'"