May 13, 2009 Edition

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Allison Watson Osterberg of Cabot, formerly of Hoxie, was recently chosen to be on Wheel of Fortune. The show featuring her as a contestant is scheduled to air on Friday, May 22. Osterberg is shown here in front of the "Wheel" painting outside the Sony Studios Building where the show was taped in Los Angeles, Calif.

Hoxie native to
appear on game show

Gretchen Hunt

When Wheel of Fortune came to Conway in November for open auditions, Allison Osterberg, a native of Hoxie who now lives in Cabot, was encouraged by her family to try out.

"My husband insisted that I go because I love to watch the show and I am pretty good at solving the puzzles," she said.

The encouragement from her family paid off when she received a phone call in March inviting her to come to Los Angeles and tape a show on March 20.

The daughter of Danny and Jimmye Carol Allison Watson, Lawrence County natives who now live in Cabot, she is married to Brad Osterberg. They have two children Wade, 17, and Holly, 13, and she works for the City of Cabot as the paralegal for the city attorney.

The auditions were held on a Friday and Saturday, and Osterberg said she almost missed her opportunity.

"I almost didn't go Friday night because it was supposed to get stormy that evening. I had just gotten off work, and Conway is about a 40-minute drive from Cabot," she said. "But then my two teenagers said they would go with me just to check it out."

When they arrived they found a long line that snaked around for people to enter their contact information on a small piece of paper that was then placed into a cage. Names were drawn at random for a chance to audition.

"Thousands of people were there," Osterberg said. "Each time the names were drawn, you went back through the snake line and filled out another sheet that was then placed in the cage with all of the others from before. Needless to say it seemed like it was going to be impossible for my name to be drawn."

They did not have success on Friday, but decided to try again on Saturday evening. Approximately 500 names were drawn over the course of the two days, but as Saturday's event was drawing to a close, Osterberg still had not been called.

"I decided I was probably wasting my time, and we should just leave, but my son encouraged me to stay for the last drawing just in case," she said. "He was right. I couldn't believe it when they called my name."

She said she ran up to the stage where a "fake" Pat and Vanna administered a quick mock game with others who also had their name drawn. The "fake" Pat also asked the potential contestants some questions about themselves.

"Then they announced that if they liked you from your audition, you would be contacted within a month and invited to a final audition," Osterberg said. "I had almost given up ever hearing from them when I received my invitation."

The final audition was held in January at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock with approximately 100 people there from all over Arkansas. The finalists each played a mock game and took a timed word test.

"After the wheel coordinators graded our tests, they narrowed us down to approximately 20 people," Osterberg said. "We continued to play mock games and answer questions, and then they said if any of us were chosen we would receive notice in the mail within two weeks."

She received another shock when the letter came in the mail congratulating her for being selected. The letter said she would be contacted within the next 18 months.

"Luckily, they called me sooner than that," she said. "My husband, myself and our two teens flew to Los Angeles. I played Wheel of Fortune, and I had the time of my life!"

Osterberg is the granddaughter of the late Rev. Alvin and Opal Allison, who lived in Walnut Ridge, and Lorene Watson of Cabot and the late Wiley Watson, who lived in Hoxie.

Family and friends in Lawrence County can watch Osterberg compete on the Friday, May 22, episode.

"It was a great experience," she said. "I am so glad that my family encouraged me. I didn't get rich, but the experience will last a lifetime."

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