Two Murfreesboro residents each won a Chevrolet Equinox SUV and exotic vacations on a Nashville-theme series of “Wheel of Fortune” last week.
Mandy Quarles made her appearance Wednesday, while Melba King appeared on Friday. Both won the final puzzle of their games. King’s answer was “pumpkin ravioli.” Quarles’ answer was “frozen bagels.”
King said a total of six episodes were filmed back-to-back on Jan. 23 in Culver City, Calif. Five aired last week, all featuring Middle Tennessee residents from Murfreesboro, Nashville, Mt. Juliet and Lebanon.
In addition to the SUV, Quarles won a trip to Barbados, “Wheel of Fortune” said in a press release. The cash value of all her prizes was $54,195.
King won a trip to St. Lucia in addition to the Equinox, with all her prizes totaling $49,355.
‘Hush’ is the word
Quarles said she held a watch party for the show. Contestants are not allowed to tell before the episode airs if they won anything. Only a couple of people asked.
“I just smiled and said it will air soon enough,” Quarles said.
Her father-in-law joked she did not return home in a new car, Quarles said. Winners receive their prizes four to five months after the show airs. Her trip will take place sometime within a year of the broadcast.
To find contestants, the Wheelmobile, a promotional vehicle, held events at The Fairgrounds Nashville last October, a press release said. Then, final auditions were held locally.
The audience was filled with Middle Tennessee residents. WKRN conducted a sweepstakes to win a trip to attend the tapings. Nineteen winners and their guests were flown to Sony Pictures Studios.
Both contestants said they made the trip to California into a family vacation.
King said her husband, Bob, drove their RV there the week before the show; because she had to work, she flew to California just before the filming. They made the return trip to Tennessee into a “mini vacation” with stops along the way.
Quarles said she and her husband, John, took their children, Jack and Natalie, to Disneyland the following day. That weekend was Jack’s fifth birthday, so he thought the trip was for his birthday.
Quarles describes herself as “Chief Toddler Officer,” meaning she stays at home with the children part of the week. The rest of the week she works in human relations at Novatech.
King said she works as a voice-over actress on commercials and for audio books and mobile games. She won an Audie Award three years ago for her work on an audio book in the inspirational/faith-based fiction genre, titled, “To Win Her Favor”.
King said she signed up to be a contestant years ago with her mother but nothing ever came of that. She started watching the show consistently when she married Bob three years ago. He kept urging her to apply, and one night she did so online as a whim.
Quarles said she first applied when the Wheelmobile visited last fall.
King described the contest as “nerve-racking and exciting.”
“I didn’t necessarily expect to go as far as I did,” King said. “I was just more focused on trying to solve a puzzle.”
The women were asked about their interactions with TV legends Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
White said hello to the contestants, who were preparing for filming, on her way to have her hair and makeup done, Quarles said.
“(Sajak) is a really nice guy,” King said, adding he has good stage presence. “He looks at you like there’s nobody else in the room.”
Both women were asked to name the biggest surprise. Both said it was the wheel and the way contestants use it. The wheel weighs more than 2,000 pounds, said King, who is just over 4 feet 10 inches tall. Each contestant stands on a hydraulic lift that adjusts up or down to place everyone on a similar level and help them reach the wheel.
“My arm was sore for days” because of the wheel’s weight, King said.
Quarles, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall, said her hand was sore for three days.
But she was thrilled to be there, Quarles said.
“It was an honor to be selected, especially during Nashville week,” Quarles said.