SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - Sarah Manchester, a math teacher from Silver Spring, became the third contestant to win the $1 million dollar grand prize on the popular game show "Wheel of Fortune" during Wednesday night's episode that aired on ABC 7.
“This is a once in a lifetime event,” said an excited Manchester following her win. “I’m just soaking in every minute of it!”
Manchester’s $1,017,490 win did not come easy. The game was close with only $6,000 separating the first- and third-place finishes. Manchester solved the prize puzzle, winning a trip to the Dominican Republic and then brilliantly solved the third toss-up puzzle, “The Pacific Ocean,” with just a few letters revealed.
Going into the bonus round, Manchester was so caught up in the moment she forgot she was going to be playing for the chance at $1 million dollars. “Oh, I forgot!” she said when host Pat Sajak reviewed her winnings with her. However, there were no problems when the bonus round puzzle “Loud Laughter” was revealed.
“I saw it right away, so I called the letters and was able to solve pretty easily,” said Manchester of her winning solve.
The big win came during Wheel of Fortune’s “Teacher’s Week,” which kicked off the 32nd season of the show.
The $1 million dollar grand prize wedge was added to the Wheel in 2008, at the beginning of the show’s 26th season. 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 dollars on the bonus round wheel. The first $1 million dollar grand prize was won by Michelle Lowenstein in October of 2008 and the second by Autumn Erhard in May of 2013.
Manchester is a middle school math teacher and coach of the math team at Takoma Park Middle School, the same middle school she attended as a child. She has had a lot of practice solving "Wheel of Fortune" puzzles, having watched with her parents growing up and now challenging her own kids with cash prizes for each puzzle they solve before she does. Manchester was joined at the show’s taping by her father, Paul; husband, Dan; and children Alden and Raina.
“What a way to start the season,” said Sajak following the win.
During the show’s closing segment, Sajak asked the newly minted millionaire if being a math teacher she had calculated the probability of winning the million dollars to which she gushed, “I assessed that the probability was low, but even unlikely events sometimes happen!”