But with nine brothers and sisters, it was often difficult to get control of the television to watch the game show. So Mr. Muhammad would often walk around the corner to the East Germantown home of his grandmother, who was also a big fan.
Well this past weekend Mr. Muhammad got his “Wheel of Fortune” fix in a big way when he flew out to Los Angeles to compete on the show. And good grandson that he is, he took grandmother Florence Johnson, in addition to his wife, Trina, with him. The entire experience, from tryout to competition, was quite a thrill for the 28-year-old graduate of Martin Luther King High.
“It was a lot of fun,” Mr. Muhammad said of the audition process at a hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y., this summer. “I’ve been playing that game all my life so I was really excited to be there.”
He got there by first applying on the show’s website several months ago to be a contestant.
In July Mr. Muhammad received an email saying the show would be holding auditions in New York and for him to send in a headshot and video of himself with a fun fact or two. He thinks sharing the story of how he fought over the TV with all those siblings and usually relenting by going to watch at his grandmother’s helped get him the tryout.
So on July 31 Mr. Muhammad cheerfully followed directions as he and about 50 others in his group received instructions on speaking loudly and clearly, and competed over simulated show puzzles.
“They called on me and I did pretty good with that, probably got about four or five letters in a row, which isn’t bad and then I missed a letter and they moved on and then they didn’t call on me again for some time because there’s 50 other people.”
There was also a written test in which contestants had to solve about 10 partially filled-out puzzles in five minutes.
“I felt I didn’t do well on that portion of the written test but they came back and they reduced the group to 24 and I was kept behind so I guess I did OK,” he said. “And then we did groups of six doing those puzzles again as if they were playing the [TV] game and I was able to solve one of the puzzles.”
When the promised notification time of whether he would be picked for the show –two weeks– went by, Mr. Muhammad thought the dream was over. But in the third week he got notice that he would be a contestant.
““I just started texting a lot of people and calling family members.” His grandmother was really excited, especially when he told her she was one of the up to four family members he was taking with him.
“I wasn’t nervous at the audition. The show was something different.”
Yes, he got to speak one-on-one with Pat Sajak and Vanna White was nice. To find out, however, how he did in the competition, you’ll have to watch the episode airing Jan. 5.
And one day you may see this game-show fan on “Jeopardy” or some other show as well.