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Ironton woman gives game show a spin

A once in a lifetime opportunity.

That’s what Ironton resident Melissa Dufore calls her chance to spin the big wheel on the popular game show, “Wheel of Fortune.”

“I’ve always been a fan,” Dufore, 35, said. “I used to watch it with my grandparents.”

After years of playing along at home, guessing letters, buying vowels and solving puzzles, Dufore will take her turn today at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif. She and her husband Derek, her sister-in-law and niece made the trip with her to cheer her on from the audience.

“They say the big wheel is really heavy,” Dufore said.

It was the luck of the draw that Dufore was even picked to audition for the popular game show.

Earlier this year, the Mardi Gras West Virginia Casino and Hotel hosted open auditions, but Dufore missed out because of work. Still wanting her own turn on the wheel, she signed up online.

“Months and months went by and then I get this email that I have been chosen for a live audition at Mardi Gras Casino,” Dufore said. “I said, ‘I’m going. I’m checking this out.’”

In June, Dufore and about 40 other hopefuls tested their puzzle skills at the closed auditions with timed tests and mock rounds of the show. Dufore said the selection committee was looking for contestants with good presence and who showed excitement and enthusiasm.

“It was completely fun,” Dufore said. “I thought, ‘This would be so awesome if I got picked.’”

Several weeks later, Dufore finally got the call telling her she was invited to be on a taping, that she would spin the big wheel, that she would meet Pat Sajak and Vanna White.

“When they called and said, ‘We’d like to have you here,’ I was just so excited,” Dufore said. “It’s a lifetime opportunity. I’m so excited. I’m not too set on the prizes. I just want to spin the wheel.”

Having to pay her own way and accommodations, Dufore said she hoped she would at least win enough money to pay for the trip. But, of course, a trip or a new car would be nice, too.

The episode will air in either October or November, Dufore said.

“I just want to have fun,” she said. “I hope I go out there and do well.”