Wheel of life: Clemmons resident gets chance on iconic game show

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Christian Simmons

For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — Dave Sorensen, a Clemmons resident, got the chance of a lifetime to be on Wheel of Fortune.

What makes this even more special, was that it was on Pat Sajak’s final week hosting the game show.

Sorensen, a highly competitive person, grew up with a fierceness. He trains hard, plays hard and loves to win.

“My mom, dad, and two brothers, one older and the other younger than I, were great role models,” Sorenson said. “My love for fitness and competition came at a very young age, tagging along with them as they went to work out. 

With my brothers and I, competition was commonplace. We would compete in various athletics and exercise routines. Each pushing the other to get better. 

It was around this time that I also developed my love for WWE wrestling.” Sorenson said. 

As a child, Sorenson loved to watch game shows such as the Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune. 

“I loved Wheel of Fortune ever since I started watching it at six years old,” Sorenson said. “It was always a dream of mine to be on a game show and compete with others.”

Playing West Forsyth basketball with greats like NBA great Chris Paul, Sorenson fueled his love for winning at a young age. 

Carrying on his fierceness, he went into personal training after a stint at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. 

It was during his time as a personal trainer that he met the love of his life, Bojana and a two-year-old chocolate lab named Max, who hiked with the pair as they ventured up huge mountains. 

“My wife, Max and I are all avid hikers,” Sorenson said. “We love hiking big mountains. The bigger, the better.”

The pair began living a very active lifestyle working out together and keeping at the peak of their health.

“The Jerry Long YMCA Center holds a special place in both of our hearts,” Sorensen said. “We love the fitness community as well as their attention to physical fitness. Gina, the executive director there provided great leadership and guidance for the YMCA as well as the fitness community.”

Keeping with his desire to compete, Sorensen decided to apply to become a contestant on Wheel of Fortune.

“Millions of people apply to become a contestant, with only five hundred actually making it to become a contestant,” Sorensen started. “In spite of that statistic, I ventured ahead, applied, did a video, and caught the eyes of the staff. This enabled be interviewed and ultimately selected as one of the contestants.”

One Friday evening, during March Madness, Sorensen opened an email from Wheel of Fortune letting him know he would be a contestant on the show. 

“I was outside with Max when I received the email,” Sorenson said. “Once I read it, I ran inside, filled with excitement and barely announced to Bojana that Wheel of Fortune wanted me. I’m going to be a contestant. We are flying out in a couple of weeks.”

With his love for competition still intact, Sorensen began an intense study and preparation mode for the show.

“I didn’t just want to be on the show, I wanted to do well.” Sorensen started. 

Watching hours upon hours of old Wheel of Fortune episodes, along with studying different letter and word combinations, as well as playing the Wheel of Fortune app on his phone, Sorensen continued his training all the way up to the show. 

“A few days before the show, I was solving puzzles very easily, and my wife looked at me and told me that I was ready,” Sorenson said. “That is when my training stopped.” 

Flying out to Los Angeles for the show, Sorensen felt confident and ready for the big stage. 

“With all the previous training, I felt confident that I would do well against the other competitors on the show,” Sorensen said. 

On the day of the show and appearing on set, it seemed like a fairy tale to Sorensen. 

“It all seemed surreal to me at that moment,” Sorensen said. 

That morning, the contestants were hanging out on the site, Vanna White approached Sorensen congratulating him for making it on the show.

“Having a conversation with Vanna White along with having my makeup and hair done by Alex Trebek’s makeup artist became the highlight of the time there,” Sorensen said. 

Then the contestants where then taken to the set where they practiced spinning the wheel and calling out letters like they would do when it became time. 

“We actually got to play a mock game, then had breakfast, and shortly thereafter it became show time.” Sorensen started. “After standing there looking at the wheel, puzzle board, and Vanna White, it all hit me that I finally made my dream come true.” 

It airs Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m.