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Sophomore plays ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Irena Zajickova | Friday, April 17, 2009

Notre Dame sophomore Nick Normandin has fulfilled a dream that many college students may secretly have – to appear on a widely watched game show. Tonight, millions will see him appear on the popular game show “Wheel of Fortune.”

Normandin, a science-business major from Zahm House, auditioned and secured a spot on the show last summer.

Normandin said that he was mainly motivated to do so by boredom.

“All my buddies back home are on the quarter system, so I was home by myself for a solid month and I was bored out of my mind,” Normandin said. “One day my mom suggested I try out for a game show, so I decided to do ‘Wheel of Fortune’ because I’m good at that.”

The auditions took place in Los Angeles, which is a 45-minute drive from Costa Mesa, Normandin’s hometown. He said the experience was unlike any he’d ever had.

“It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever done,” Normandin said. “There were freaks galore – people saying it was their fifth audition and stuff like that.”

Normandin auditioned, but did not hear back from the show’s producers until this February.

“I never got a letter so I kind of forgot about it,” he said. “Then in February, I got a call asking me to come represent Notre Dame for the show’s College Week.”

Normandin flew out to California for the taping several weeks ago. All five episodes were taped on the same day, and each took about 25 minutes to film.

He said the studio was different in person then it appeared on television.

“The studio is small, not big like it looks on TV,” Normandin said. “But the wheel is a lot heavier than I thought it would be. It’s smaller than it looks and about eight times as heavy. There were people that couldn’t spin it right away and had to keep trying.”

Normandin said he enjoyed meeting the show’s hosts and the students he competed against.

“I didn’t meet Pat Sajak until the taping, but I met Vanna [White] before that,” he said. “She’s 52 years old and smoking hot.”

According to Normandin, his friends were very excited when they discovered that he would appear on the show, although they did discourage him from saying hello to them on air.

“[My roommates] told me I couldn’t give shout-outs to them,” Normandin said. “So instead, I yelled ‘friendship’ instead of ‘big money’ when I spun the wheel. Hopefully they’ll hear it when it airs.”

Normandin competed against two female students, one from Michigan State University and one from Baylor University in Texas. He said that both were worthy competition.

“The two girls I went up against, I could tell they were both pretty smart,” Normandin said. “I went in thinking I wasn’t going to win anything.”

As a result, Normandin made it his main goal to have fun and enjoy the experience. He got third place in his episode, which will air tonight at 7 p.m. on local Channel 12.

Despite coming in third, Normandin still ended up winning a substantial amount of money.

“I tried to have fun with it and not take it too seriously,” Normandin said. “I just kind of kept my head down, bought some vowels, and came out a winner.”

He plans to use his winnings as extra spending money when he studies abroad in London in the fall.