Published August 17, 2017
It seems California one woman really knows when to spin and when to solve.
On Thursday night’s episode of “Wheel of Fortune” Autumn Ernhard became the second contestant in the show’s history to take home $1 million.
The hefty prize was on the wheel in honor of the game show’s 30th anniversary. Ernhard was selected to participate in an episode this week because she is 30 years old.
After landing on the coveted million dollar wedge during the show’s earlier round, Ernhard headed into the bonus round with $1 million added to the grand-prize wheel and, it seems, a whole lot of luck.
For the final puzzle, Ernhard had just three letters on the board, but she managed to solve the word game. Immediately after her success, host Pat Sajack revealed she had won $1 million.
"I am in complete and utter shock," she said, according to ABC News. "I'm shaking. I came here today because I love the game, I wanted to have some fun and solve some puzzles – I feel like I'm in a dream!"
Ernhard won an additional $30,000 in cash and prizes during the show’s regular rounds, bringing her total winnings up to $1,030,340. She works in pharmaceutical sales, ABC reported, and was hoping to win some money to put toward her upcoming wedding. Her parents and fiancé joined her on stage as soon as her winnings were revealed.
"No one could believe it! They were just off stage and couldn't see what my prize was. They were celebrating the fact that I solved the puzzle," said Ernhard, according to ABC. "They kept asking me how much I won, and I had to keep repeating it because no one believed me at first.”
And that may be because winning $1 million from the 30-year-old game show isn’t easy.
The $1 million dollar wedge was added to the large wheel in 2008, but in order to have a shot at the million, a contestant must first land on the wedge, then collect it and not “go bankrupt” at all before the bonus round. Ernhard managed to do so, and as she headed into the bonus round her $1 million wedge was added to the grand prize wheel in place of the $100,000 slot. Then she had to land on it and spin solve the puzzle in just 10 seconds.
Somehow she did it.
"We always root for our contestants and enjoy giving away money and prizes that can change people's lives for the better," Executive Producer Wheel of Fortune Harry Friedman told ABC. "We'll stay in touch with Autumn and hopefully one day be able to show viewers how she used this money in one of our ‘Changing Lives' segments."