By Spc. Devin M. Wood, 412th TEC Public AffairsFebruary 14, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Feb. 22, 2012) -- Game show prize money? Fourteen thousand dollars. New Sony Tablet? Four hundred dollars. Reuniting with your spouse after a yearlong tour of duty? Priceless.
Maryanne Rigor could hardly contain herself when her husband, Maj. Andrew Rigor, Executive Officer of the 368th Engineer Battalion, walked onto the Wheel of Fortune stage after he returned from Afghanistan.
"I was like, oh my you're not supposed to be here, what's going on?" Maryanne said.
Approximately four months after show officials selected Maryanne to be a contestant, the Rigors learned that the production date conflicted with the 368th's welcome home ceremony on January 12.
"I knew she was a big fan of the show, and not many people get to go on as a contestant," said Rigor.
Disappointed that her husband couldn't be there, Maryanne traveled with family to Los Angeles the day before filming. Little did she know, he had devised a plan to surprise her.
"I had to get permission to leave a day early in order to fly out to Los Angeles," said Rigor.
He arrived in L.A. the night before the show and stayed in a hotel room with his parents. Maryanne stayed in the same hotel in a room directly across from them.
"They sort of snuck me in there around midnight so she wouldn't know I was there," said Rigor.
The next morning, Maryanne left early to be at the studio by 8 a.m. Rigor arrived three hours later and explained the situation to the Wheel of Fortune staff.
After making the arrangements with the producers, Rigor watched his wife compete from backstage.
Toward the end of the show, Pat Sajak, the show's host, handed each of the other two contestants a Sony Tablet-S, then he asked, "do we have another gift for Maryanne?"
That was Rigor's cue to walk out and surprise his wife.
"It was the best surprise I've ever had in my entire life," said Maryanne. "It was shocking!"
The Rigors hosted a "watch party" for family and friends at their New Hampshire home when the show aired on February 9.
Maryanne later collected her Sony Tablet-S along with the prize money, but the "grand prize" was her husband.