V_ndenberg: She'd like to buy a vowel
By Airman 1st Class Steve Bauer , 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 30, 2009
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Vandenberg contractor recently had the opportunity to be a contestant on the television game show Wheel of Fortune on March 5.
Jenny Rojek, a 576th Flight Launch Test Squadron logistics forms specialist, stumbled upon an application to become a contestant on the show while browsing the Internet one day.
"I wanted to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune because I have a really upbeat personality and I am really good at solving word puzzles," said Mrs. Rojek, who is also the wife of Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rojek, from the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office. "I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for me."
After filling out and sending in the application, five months passed before Mrs. Rojek heard anything back from the game show.
"Having heard nothing back for such a long period of time, I just figured that I wasn't going to be selected," Mrs. Rojek said.
When she finally received the news of her selection, she was overjoyed.
"It felt like it was my big moment," Mrs. Rojek said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Contestants are only allowed to be on the show once, and there aren't a whole lot of things in life that you only get one shot at."
Being on a game show that attracts an audience of more than 46 million viewers a week was unlike anything she had ever experienced before.
"When I first walked through the curtain and onto the set, it all felt surreal," Mrs. Rojek said. "I couldn't believe that I was there. I felt as though I was watching a movie or something on TV because the set was so big and everything was huge including the wheel."
Even after watching the show for years, Mrs. Rojek found that as a contestant, the game show is harder than it looks.
"We all received some coaching beforehand because the producers of the show wanted their contestants to display a lot of energy," Mrs. Rojek said. "However, trying to maintain that kind of energy and solve the puzzles while trying not to look bad on TV was a big task. You have to keep your focus on the game and continue being competitive as well as performing for the cameras. You have to be comfortable being in front of people."
Solving the show's puzzles poses a challenge for all of the contestants, but there was one challenge Mrs. Rojek did not expect.
"Spinning the wheel was really hard. The wheel is heavier than it looks and you have to lean way over at the waist to reach it. I was the worst wheel spinner out of everybody that day."
Being an Air Force spouse has allowed this former Arizona native the opportunity to participate in a show like Wheel of Fortune.
"I knew when we had moved here I wanted to be on some kind of a show, but I wasn't sure in what capacity," Mrs. Rojek said. "I feel like I did the best that I could do. It helped knowing that I had the support of my husband and family behind me."
Unfortunately, Sergeant Rojek could not be present at the taping of the show in Los Angeles due to participating in an Air Force training exercise in Korea.
"I am very proud of my wife in all respects," Sergeant Rojek said. "She stepped forward and shined through every step of the way and got on the show. Being away from my wife during her big moment was hard, but she knew that I was supporting her while being overseas.
"The Air Force has blessed us with the opportunity to have been involved in such amazing programs as Wheel of Fortune," Sergeant Rojek said. "I feel blessed she has been afforded the opportunity to go on a game show fulfilling a long-time dream."
Mrs. Rojek can be seen as a contestant of the May 4 episode of Wheel of Fortune at 7 p.m. on KSBY, a local NBC network affiliate.