Alyssa Tillmon was 6 years old when she began watching “Wheel of Fortune” with her grandmother, and that family tradition has carried her all the way to a California taping of the longtime TV game show.

“I have always been great at solving puzzles,” she said.

Tillmon, now 24 and an intern for the City of Evanston working in the City Manager’s office, said she sent in an application video to the show in February.  

She said she had to describe why she would be a good contestant and in July, she officially auditioned for the show via Zoom. The next day she received an email saying was chosen as a contestant.

Alyssa Tillmon. (Photo courtesy “Wheel of Fortune” © 2021 Califon Productions Inc. Photographer: Carol Kaelson)

“I always had the desire to be on the show one day, I just didn’t know when,” Tillmon said.

Tillmon’s episode was taped Oct. 15 and airs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on ABC-7 Chicago.

She said the best part of being on “Wheel of Fortune” was meeting the hosts, Pat Sajak and Vanna White. Tillmon wasn’t focused on winning, she said, she just wanted to have a good time.

“I was ready to have fun, it wasn’t about beating anyone, my mindset was to have fun because that’s all that matters,” she said.

Tillmon, a Bellwood resident who is pursuing a master’s of public administration degree at Northern Illinois University, said she didn’t do any studying before the taping. “It’s not something you study for, you have to prepare your mind for it.”

Thursday evening Tillmon is hosting a “Wheel of Fortune” watch party, nachos included, with her boyfriend. She said she is eager to see what her facial reactions were during the episode.

And Tillmon said the grandmother who got her interested in the game show will be watching from her home in Andalusia, Alabama. Tillmon said her grandmother is very happy for her and “super excited to see her superstar granddaughter on TV.” 

But the big question, did Tillmon win? Contestants aren’t allowed to share that detail until after their episode airs so like this reporter, curious readers will have to tune in Thursday to see if she brought home more than just her “Wheel of Fortune” name tag.

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Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at and...