Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs Jason Sandgren and Amy Guear will travel to Los Angeles from Steamboat next month where one spin of the “Wheel of Fortune” could change their fate, leading to marital bliss and a solution to their housing dilemma. Or not.
Sandgren and Guear are engaged, but the ceremony is on hold until they can afford to gather family members.
“We’re hoping to be able to afford a wedding soon,” Guear said. She has a winning smile.
“I fell in love the day I saw her,” Sandgren said. “I told myself, ‘I’ve got to be with her.’”
Possibly of even greater urgency to the couple than getting hitched is the fact that they must vacate by the end of April the condo Sandgren has rented for four years so that it can be remodeled.
“I have no work right now,” Sandgren said. “We have to move by the end of April, and I’m worried about the first and last month’s rent and the security deposit.”
He has worked as a dry-waller here for most of 16 years and has cooked in restaurants.
Guear (pronounced Gweer) is a certified watch technician who can refurbish expensive timepieces but can’t find that type of work here right now, either.
If this were a Hollywood movie, Sandgren said, Mark Wahlberg would play his part and hers would be played by Rachel McAdams (“Midnight in Paris,” how romantic!).
All their troubles could be solved and the path to matrimony paved with rose petals before the lease is up if Guear gets lucky in L.A. and is selected to play a non-televised version of the long-running game, “Wheel of Fortune,” with celebrity hosts Vanna White and Pat Sajak.
You read that last sentence correctly. You won’t be able to watch this 21st-century version of “Romeo and Juliet” on your flat-screen. It is non-televised. That’s because Guear has been selected by the Colorado Lottery for the trip to California through a promotion connected to its $5 “Wheel of Fortune” scratch game.
She and three of her closest friends (she’s taking her parents —Christy and Don, of Afton, Wyo. — along with her beau) are among two winners from Colorado in the lottery’s multistate second-chance drawing.
Most of the lottery’s second-chance games, which require contestants to resubmit their losing scratch tickets, come with big cash prizes, Guear observed wryly.
“Wouldn’t you know I’d win one where you have to go to L.A. and work for it,” she said with a laugh.
The good news is that as a teenager in the mid-1990s, Guear and a friend used to stay up late at night playing a video game version of “Wheel of Fortune,” and she became good at it.
“You have to be smart, and you have to know a lot of familiar expressions,” Sandgren said.
Guear said the answers to “Wheel of Fortune” puzzles pop into her head quickly, she rarely buys a vowel and she knows from experience the letters R, S, T, L, N and E are the most common.
After she and her group arrive in Hollywood on April 24, they will join “Wheel of Fortune” lottery winners from all across the country at a ritzy reception. Everyone will wind up a winner because in addition to airfare and two deluxe rooms, they receive $1,000 spending money for meals or whatever they choose to do with it. And the smallest prize Guear could leave with is an additional $300.
Things get down to business when a few of the winners are selected randomly to play the full version of “Wheel of Fortune.” If Guear is selected, she will have a shot at $1 million. But even if she doesn’t get to put her skills to work, she’ll get one spin of the wheel for a change to win as much as $1 million. Fifty thousand dollars would be nice, she said.
To be straight with you, our two lovebirds already might be hitched if they hadn’t spent an estimated $5,000 in the past year or so on scratch tickets. There have been some winners along the way. Sandgren had a hot streak when he claimed $100, $150 and $250 in close succession. And Guear once fished a scratch ticket out of her jeans and realized it was a $500 winner.
And Guear is diligent about turning their losing scratch tickets in as second-chance entries.
“We have a shoe box full of them, and I spend hours at night entering them,” she said.
All of the hopes and dreams tied up in those scratch tickets could pay off if Guear can put the right spin on things in late April.
But here’s the kicker. When they get home with their winnings April 28, they’ll have two days to move into a new home.
The couple from Steamboat Springs has a lot riding on the Wheel — of — Fortune!
Wish them luck.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com