CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the hotel lobby, waiting for a shuttle to take her to the studio to tape an episode of the game show "Wheel of Fortune," Annie Brackley got a head start.
At that early hour, she assumed that the "dressed-up folks" were her potential competitors and struck up a conversation with them. She picked out two whom she knew would be her toughest foes -- and ended up standing right next to one of them around the big wheel.
At 7 p.m. Oct. 30 on WSAZ-TV, Brackley competes on one of the most popular game shows in the history of television.
The vibrant contender is an instructor in the business department at the University of Charleston. She teaches five classes and helps coach softball. She acknowledges that her competitive spirit led to her appearance on television.
Running marathons, finishing a master's in sports administration and an MBA, working for the New York City Marathon and NASCAR -- all are par for the course for the athletic, quick-witted teacher.
"Only 1 in 10,000 make it on the show," she pointed out.
Brackley auditioned this past summer at Mardi Gras Casino for the chance to hang out with Pat Sajak and Vanna White. She made sure the summer class she was teaching (marketing) was finished on time so she could get to the tryouts.
She believes she was chosen because she's 30 and so is the show, though she said she realizes that her bubbly personality might have been a factor as well.
"I clapped at everything," she said, grinning.
"The producer told me, 'If we like you, we'll get in touch in 14 days.' I kept looking at the mail, driving my husband nuts. Our dog, Beans, and I would hang out by the mailbox."
The letter came on Day 13, and then a call followed up to confirm.
"They gave me dates, and I said, 'That is the first day of classes; I'll have to check.' I hung up. Then I called them right back, and said, 'Who am I kidding? I will be there!' The school was great to let me go on the first day of class.
Knowing her appearance would air during the Halloween-themed week, "I wore orange because I'm a nerd," she said. Her best friend from graduate school, who flew out to the taping, helped with wardrobe. Her mom joined them from Elmira, N.Y.