ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — When Rochester resident Tom Biuso watched “Wheel of Fortune” with his grandparents growing up, he never imagined he would one day have the chance to compete on the show.
This Thursday, audiences will be able to see Biuso play. He told News 8 the concept of the video that got him the spot as a contestant.
“In February, I completed an application online with a video I sent in of me in a Santa in front of a Christmas tree, praising Wheel of Fortune,” Biuso said. “[A few months later,] the Casting Associate Producer said ‘We loved your video. We want you to do a virtual contest on Zoom.”
After going through multiple lightning rounds of solving puzzles, Biuso got the official notice.
“A producer sent me an email and said I had been selected for filming,” Biuso said. “If I accepted, I had to go to California the week after.”
And to the airport he went! When Biuso arrived at the studio, he says the day was full of rehearsals and practice runs, administered by an alternate host.
“Then, someone comes in. Isn’t it Vanna White with no makeup, hair in a ponytail, a t-shirt and shorts,” Biuso said. “I was like five feet away from her. She is the nicest person. She came in and said, ‘I just wanted you to see what I looked like without makeup!”
After breaking for lunch, (and as Biuso remembers it, chugging a few Coca-Colas to stay awake), it came time for the official taping.
“It was just a tremendous feeling of nervous,” Biuso said. “I’ve had two kids, I was more nervous than that. With the lights there, the cameras there, you tend to freeze.”
And on top of the nerves, in the middle of the taping, Biuso’s nametag fell off — twice.
“Oh boy. I picked up the tag and slapped that on my chest,” Biuso said. “After the second time, the producer’s mouth dropped and they said, ‘Get Tom a new nametag! Get him some Velcro! And they velcroed my name tag on.'”
While there was anticipation, Biuso says the feeling of fun is the one he will remember the most.
“I can’t give away how the episode goes, but they told me before the taping, ‘You’ve already won by being on the show.’ I was one of hundreds of thousands of people to get picked. That made me feel good.”
Being on “Wheel of Fortune” specifically was extra special to Biuso, he says the show was essential to his grandparents learning how to speak English.
“My grandmother and grandfather were from Sicily,” Biuso said. “They learned how to speak English by watching “Wheel of Fortune” actually, and we solved puzzles. So that’s how it started.”
Biuso’s message to anyone who may contemplating doing something they want to do — “life’s too short.”
“I look forward to seeing people’s reactions,” Biuso said. “I sing karaoke. I like to be the life of the party. I want to see the world. I want to do things before, you know, health wise I won’t be able to. That’s my life in a nutshell.”
The episode of “Wheel of Fortune” featuring Biuso will air on Thursday, October 12 at 7 p.m. on CBS.