'Fortune' smiles on Baby Jay and mom

A mother and daughter team from Lawrence put the right spin on the "Wheel of Fortune" during a taping of the popular television game show Friday in Kansas City, Mo., and then walked away with some big bucks.

"It was a very long day, and it was a blast," said Linda Gilstrap, who along with her daughter, Jessica Virtue, won nearly $22,000. They plan to split their winnings when they receive the money a few months from now.

"It was just so surreal," Virtue said Saturday, as she described being on the show that won't be aired until May 2. "I still don't feel like it really happened."

Virtue is used to performing in front of large crowds as Kansas University's Baby Jay mascot, but being on a national television game show was different, she said. She was nervous at first.

"It's totally different having a big mask on your head, when nobody knows who you are," the KU senior said.

Mom and daughter won most of their money when Virtue figured out the phrase on Vanna White's letter board: "Feature-length animated film."

"We just started jumping and kind of forgot I was on TV," Virtue said.

About six months ago Virtue completed an online application for her and her mother to be on "Wheel of Fortune" during taping at Kansas City's Bartle Hall. They were selected for a tryout more than a month ago in Kansas City and were ultimately picked to appear on the show. Their show is part of a series of "Wheel of Fortune: Mom and Me" shows to air the week of Mother's Day. In addition to being on the show, Gilstrap and Virtue also taped a commercial promotion for their segment of the show.

They said they enjoyed talking with the show's host, Pat Sajak, and White before and during the show.

"Pat Sajak is just a riot," Gilstrap said. "He's a lot of fun. They were just real nice people."


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