Mentone resident, Royal Bruckno, has always been good at solving puzzles, but he never guessed it could win him a spot on Wheel of Fortune.
Bruckno will make his game show debut on Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. on WAFF 48.
Bruckno retired after a 30-year career in the Postal Service and in 2009 he moved to Mentone. Now, he is an auctioneer with the Swafford Auction Group in Centre and his wife, Ronda, works for Mountain Properties, Inc.
Bruckno said he and his wife moved directly to Mentone from the Charlotte, North Carolina area. He grew up in Union City, New Jersey.
“I was ready to retire and we just found a piece of land in a nice, quiet countryside setting that was affordable on our retirement,” he said. “We’ve fallen in love with Mentone.”
He said when they are home, he and his wife watch Jeopardy and Wheel.
“She puts up with Jeopardy for me and I put up with Wheel for her,” he said. “I’ve always done really, really well solving the puzzles, and for years, she’s been after me to try to get on the show.”
“I found out they had an opening for auditions,” he said. “So I thought, well, why not?”
Bruckno said he had to submit a video of himself as the first step of the application.
“I sent that in not even thinking that I’d hear anything back,” he said.
Bruckno said shortly after, he received an email asking for him to audition in Atlanta.
“It was a pretty interesting process; I had to solve puzzles like on Wheel,” he said. “It wasn’t as elaborate, but I had to go through the game and see how it’s done.”
There were some contestants selected to stay and some dismissed, and Bruckno was among the ones chosen to stay.
At the end of the second session, Bruckno said there was still no guarantee he would be on the show. He said a woman told him he would receive a letter in about two weeks, and if he didn’t receive one, he didn’t make it onto the show.
“Two weeks had expired and I still didn’t have a letter, so I just assumed I wasn’t chosen,” he said. “On the fifteenth day, I got a letter.”
Bruckno said the letter told him to go to Los Angeles in two weeks.
“I flew out to L.A. and the show was taped on September 24,” he said.
Bruckno said he is bound by contract not to reveal how the show went.
The minimum a player could win on Wheel of Fortune is $1,000 and the maximum is $1 million.
“I can tell you I was somewhere between those two,” he said.
Bruckno said he is on a limited income and had to borrow money even to go to L.A., so the first thing he would do if he won any money is pay them back.
“I had a relative level of confidence but also nerves,” he said. “I knew that I could solve the puzzles pretty well.”
Bruckno said he realized the puzzles are easier while sitting at home because there is less pressure, no cameras, no lights and it’s always your turn.
The hosts on Wheel of Fortune are Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
Bruckno said there is a lot going on behind the scenes that everyone who watches at home doesn’t realize.
“When we first walked out on the stage to learn and see what was going to happen, Vanna White came out in just regular jeans, a top and no makeup,” he said. “She just looked real. It was nice to see that this made up person was real.”
He said between each solved puzzle, the contestants had to come down off the stage and have their makeup touched-up.
“I’m pretty bald, so my head was shiny and they had to touch that up,” he said. “While we were doing that, the stagehands would change the amounts and change the prizes on the puzzle.”
He said the hosts would go behind the puzzle board and get their makeup touched-up. He said they didn’t know what the next puzzle would be until the break before.
“It’s pretty interesting because that’s something you don’t see sitting at home,” he said.