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Statesboro resident competes on Wheel of Fortune
Wheel 2
Statesboro resident Jeannette Bryant, right, high-fives her sister Ranada Royal on the set of "Wheel of Fortune." They appeared on a recent episode of the popular TV game show. - photo by CAROL KAELSON/Wheel of Fortune

Statesboro resident Jeannette Bryant and her sister, a former dispatcher for the Statesboro Police Department and current resident of Atlanta, Ranada Royal, placed second on an episode of "Wheel of Fortune."

They took home $7,900 in prize money and a $1,000 Wal-Mart gift card for their performance on the show, which aired Dec. 10.

Sponsored by Wal-Mart, the show was part of the themed Secret Santa Family Week in which contestants worked as a team to solve the puzzles after spinning the famous wheel.

Bryant, who works for Summit Cancer Care in Statesboro, is originally from Sylvania.

More than a year ago, Bryant completed an online application to be a contestant for "Wheel of Fortune." She received an email request to submit a video demonstrating the sound of her voice and illustrating her enthusiasm.

Bryant was selected to audition in Atlanta and encouraged to bring someone. Bryant knew immediately who she would take: her sister and best friend, Royal.

"We had to make it through three rounds," said Bryant of the mock game audition. "If we were selected, we would receive a letter in two weeks. We didn't receive a letter, so we forgot about it."

More than a year later, at the beginning of October 2014, Bryant and her sister received a phone call and email, requesting their presence in Los Angeles for taping.

"That was the best birthday present I've ever received," Bryant said with enthusiasm worthy of "Wheel." "We only had a little over a week to pack and prepare."

The sisters flew out one day, taped the next and flew home the following.

"As children growing up, we always watched ‘Wheel of Fortune.' We got to meet Vanna White," Bryant said. "She greeted us and gave us lots of encouragement. And, of course we met Pat (Sajak) on the show."

Bryant said it was one of the most exciting things she has ever done.

"It's something I can knock off my bucket list," she said.

Two other Statesboro residents have appeared on "Wheel of Fortune" in the recent past.

Krista Branch and Hillary Zeigler actually auditioned at the same time but did not know each other. Later, the two met again at Brooklet Elementary School, where Zeigler was a teacher and Branch served as the PTO President.

Branch and Zeigler visited the Savannah Mall when the Wheelmobile was seeking "Wheel of Fortune" contestants. After standing in line and filling out applications, neither was selected immediately to audition, but both were called later to audition at the Westin.

"There were more than 100 auditioning," said Branch, now a fifth-grade teacher at Brooklet Elementary. "We took a puzzle test and had a mock game. They wanted to see us getting excited and wanted to hear how we enunciated our words."

When Branch received a phone call acceptance, she, too, had only a week to get to Los Angeles for the taping and her episode, in which she was the big winner, aired in October 2010.

Zeigler, a stay-at-home mom and videographer, didn't receive her phone call until after Branch and was selected to participate in a teacher-themed week of competition for the show. Unlike the others, Zeigler had about two months' notice of her taping, and her television debut aired in February 2011.

"I wasn't the big winner, but it was a really cool experience," Zeigler said. "I had horrible luck with the wheel, but when I could buzz in, I knew the answer."


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