Wheel of Fortune aired for the first time in 1975 and has kept on entertaining viewers and fans till now. In the game show, contestants are required to solve word problems with the assistance of a giant spinning wheel to earn some rewards.
Bearing in mind the longevity of the show, it would be expected that several contestants should have hit the grand prize mark, it’s quite surprising that only three people have won more than $1 million in Wheel of Fortune franchise history since the first person broke the record in 2008.
Meet the three grand prize winners on Wheel of Fortune:
Michelle Loewenstein, $1,026,080 in 2008
Michelle Loewenstein made history in 2008 as the first person to win the incredible prize during the last wheel spin on the game show — by figuring the “Leaky Faucet” riddle — to become a million-dollar winner.
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Loewenstein won a total of $1,026,080, which was made up of $1 million rewards and $26,080 that she had earlier won on her way to the final Wheel of Fortune round. The prize came at the perfect moment for her as she came on the show after returning from her honeymoon. Speaking to the New York Post, she said, “I’ve had a lot of luck. I got engaged on July 7, 2007, and the episode was shot on August 8, 2008.”
Michelle Loewenstein held the record for the highest amount of money won on the show for over half a decade.
Autumn Erhard, $1,030,340 in 2013
She was the second contestant on Wheel of Fortune to win the $1 million top prize. All through the episode, Erhard proved herself the winner, earning more than $30,000 in cash and other prizes, which included vacations to Belize and Arizona on her way to the million-dollar win.
Erhard, a sales agent for animal medications based in Laguna Niguel, California, and a graduate of The University of California, had just gotten engaged and she came on the show to win some money to cater her wedding. She got her prize while her fiancé, Joey, Harold, her father; and Francine, her mother, looked surprised as they watched her.
“I am completely and utterly stunned,” she revealed after winning. “I’m trembling. I came here today because I like the game and wanted to have some fun while solving puzzles – I feel as if I’m in a dream.”
Sarah Manchester, $1,017,490 in 2014
A year after Erhard’s big win, a mathematics teacher from Silver Spring, Maryland, Sarah Manchester, became the third contestant to win big with the $1 million grand prize.
Her victory was not an easy one as the game was quite tight, with just a $6,000 difference between first and third place. Manchester also won a vacation to the Dominican Republic after providing a solution to the reward problem and then brilliantly solving the third toss-up puzzle, “The Pacific Ocean,” with just a few letters exposed.
The enormous win occurred during “Teacher’s Week” on Wheel of Fortune, which flagged off the 32nd season of the show. After winning the grand prize, she was overjoyed and revealed that “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m simply savoring every second of it!”