“Wheel of Fortune” contestant wins over $1 million

The May 30 broadcast of the syndicated game show Wheel of Fortune saw 30-year-old Autumn Erhard become only the second person ever to win the show’s $1 million grand prize.

“I am in complete and utter shock,” Erhard said. “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!”

Autumn Erhard indeed had some fun, and solved a particularly challenging puzzle in the Bonus Round, which led to her windfall. Dominant through the entire game, Erhard finished the regular round of play with more than $30,000 in cash and prizes, including trips to Belize and Arizona. Comparatively, her competitors finished with $2,000 and $1,000. Erhard also carried the “Wild Card” with her into the bonus round, which gave her the opportunity to guess an additional consonant. Although there were only a few letters revealed, she solved the final puzzle — “Tough Workout” — with ease.

Erhard’s fiancé, Joey; father, Harold; and mother, Francine joined her on set following her win. Recently engaged, Erhard had hoped that being on Wheel of Fortune would also allow her to win some money to help plan her wedding. Her fiancé and parents were just as shocked as she was when they learned just how much she did win.

“No one could believe it!” said Erhard, an animal pharmaceuticals sales representative from California. “They were just offstage and couldn’t see what my prize was. They were celebrating the fact that I solved the puzzle. They kept asking me how much I won, and I had to keep repeating it because no one believed me at first.”

Wheel of Fortune, now in its 30th season, added the $1 million grand prize wedge to the Wheel in 2008. If a contestant collects the wedge, solves the puzzle and makes it to the Bonus Round without hitting Bankrupt, the top $100,000 cash prize is replaced by $1 million on the Bonus Round Wheel. The first million dollar grand prize was won by Michelle Lowenstein, in October 2008.


Wheel of Fortune/Autumn Erhard: © 2013 Califon Productions, Inc. Credit: Carol Kaelson