AHS grad giving ‘Wheel’ a spin Tuesday

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who hasn’t dreamed of spinning that big wheel and winning a fabulous trip or car?

Well, for one former Andalusia resident, it isn’t a dream any longer.

On Feb. 3, Hannah Grimes Martin, a 2000 Andalusia High School graduate, will be seen on CBS standing next to Pat Sajak and watching Vanna White turn the letters on “Wheel of Fortune.”

Martin, who is the daughter of Jeff and Laquetta Grimes of Andalusia, began her journey to the small screen more than a year ago.

“It all started the Saturday before Christmas 2007,” Martin said. “I had seen on a commercial that the WheelMobile would be coming to the Riverchase Galleria, and I knew I had to be there.”

Martin described the day as “crazy” because of the tryouts and fighting the hustling Christmas shoppers.

“Anyway, I went to the first hour tryout, but my name was never called, so I decided to sit the second one out,” she said. “I went back for the third and final audition for that day, and what do you know, my name was called. I went on stage and solved the puzzle, and we were told that if we made it to the final audition round we would receive an e-mail within one to two months.”

And just after a month had passed, Martin said she got the e-mail she had been waiting on — she had been chosen to participate in the final audition. There, she said she competed against more than 80 people before being notified a week later by letter that she had been chosen to compete. However, there was a catch.

“The catch was that it could take up to 18 months to get the call,” she said.

It only took 12.

“A week and a half before Christmas 2008, I got ‘the call,’ and I will never forget that day,” she said. “I called everyone I knew to share the good news. I was so thankful that what I had been praying for over the past year was finally going to happen.”

Armed with her sister, Hayley, two sorority sisters and a love of puzzles, Martin made her way to Culver City, Ca., on Jan. 15, to take her turn at the wheel.

Martin said she was never nervous, and contestants actually got to practice before taking the stage for real.

“We were told who we would be playing with and drew for which show we would be,” she said. “Our team drew number two, and I was so ready to get out there. As our show got started, I was never nervous.

“I must say that it was such a fun and memorable experience, not only because I got to be on a show and play a game I have watched since I was little, but also because of how great everyone was,” she said. “The other contestants were nice, the contestant coordinators were great, and of course, Pat and Vanna are just as nice as I imagined them to be. Yes, Vanna really is that pretty, and Pat really is that down-to-earth.”

But as for how Martin faired at the wheel, she’s not saying.

“That would spoil the surprise,” she said. “You can watch to see how I did on Tues., Feb. 3.”

The show airs at 6:30 p.m. and can be viewed locally on channels 4 and 8, as well as through satellite providers.

Martin is a stay at home mom and resides with her husband, Joseph Martin, in Birmingham.  The couple has a 21-month-old son and is expecting another son in June.