published Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Lee University student competes on 'Wheel of Fortune'

  • photo
    Courtney Breaden reaches toward the wheel on the “Wheel of Fortune” set. Bearden will appear on the show Thursday.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Just being a contestant on “Wheel of Fortune” was nerve-wracking enough for Courtney Breaden — then she got a look at what the other contestants were wearing.

In Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day for the game show’s “College Week” competition, the Lee University senior was waiting backstage for her turn with the other students. All were wearing sweatshirts emblazoned with their school name when Breaden, 22, noticed that hers was a little different.

“There were about 20 of us in the room, all wearing our sweatshirts, and I noticed that everyone else was from a state school or an Ivy League school … big schools,” she says. “And here I am, wearing my little Lee University sweatshirt and everyone was asking, ‘Where is that?’”

Luckily, she says, “Wheel of Fortune” letter turner Vanna White came into the room about that time and started talking to the students to soothe their nerves, says Breaden, who’ll appear at 7 p.m. Thursday on the show, which airs on WTVC Channel 9.

By contract, she can’t say how she did but says she thoroughly enjoyed her time in the studio, although it was a short visit, only about 30 minutes.

“They film six episodes a day and it went a lot faster than I thought it would,” says Breaden. “It wasn’t like the Hollywood experience I thought it would be, but I mean that in a good way. I thought people would be stuck up … but everyone was really down to earth and super-nice.

“I’ve always wanted to be on the show,” says Breaden, a native of Marietta, Ga., who will graduate from Lee in May with a degree in English education. “My Mom and I have watched it since I was little.”

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