CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou native Elaine Deslatte fulfilled her lifelong dream of appearing on “Wheel of Fortune” last Thursday, when she won $22,900 in cash and prizes.
Deslatte, a retired registered nurse who now lives in California, said the experience of being on the show was actually close to how she had imagined it.
“I have been trying to solve their puzzles from home for so long that I felt pretty comfortable,” she said. “However, once they start taping, the pressure sets in because you don’t want to make a fool of yourself. I guess the whole country now knows I have a goofy gene.”
She said she was particularly excited to meet Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who were very friendly.
“Pat does a great job of making you feel at ease,” she said. “He’s also very funny and is quickly able to make comments on the fly in any situation.”
Deslatte said she was so focused on solving the puzzles that she didn’t even remember the dollar amounts she landed on after spinning the wheel until she later saw her episode.
And on the set, she said the studio did a great job of keeping everyone safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the show aired, Deslatte’s phone blew up with texts and phone calls, some coming from people she hadn’t spoken with in the 50 years since high school.
The biggest challenge was not being able to tell anyone about the result of the show until it had aired, she said.
She and her husband, Dennis, are planning a trip to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. They have been married for 36 years and have two adult daughters.
“The area looks gorgeous and we love to travel so that will be a highlight,” she said. “The cash is an added bonus and we will probably share it with some of our favorite charities and our children.”
Deslatte said she will always be thankful for growing up in a small town like Caribou.
“Most people know each other or of each other,” she said. “I have great memories of things like making forts in the snow or having playful snowball fights, working at Burger Boy and working at the ‘old’ Cary [Medical Center], ‘tooling’ through town with friends, and popping a balloon at the Woolworth lunch counter to see how much you were going to pay for a banana split. Cheerleading was a great love of mine and winning the state basketball championship was amazing. There are so many wonderful things stashed away in my memories; these are only a few.”
And though she no longer lives in the area, she said she would often come home to visit her mother, and even became known amongst friends as the “Lobster Roll Queen” because of her love of lobster rolls. She once had 11 lobster rolls in 10 days while visiting her mother.
Since Deslatte’s mother died earlier this year, Deslatte said she had played in her mother’s memory.
“My mom and I used to watch ‘Wheel of Fortune’ together when I would come home to Caribou to visit, so she would have been so very excited to see me on the show,” she said.