'Wheel of Fortune' Contestant Wins $1 Million

Wheel of Fortune Winner
Wheel of Fortune Winner

For only the second time in the game show's history, someone has won $1 million on "Wheel of Fortune."

It happened to Autumn Erhard of Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Thursday night. Erhard was chosen to compete this week in part because she's 30 years-old, and "Wheel" is celebrating its 30th season.

The show's $1 million prize dates back to 2008. To win it, a contestant has to land on the million-dollar wedge, solve a puzzle and reach the bonus round without ever spinning "bankrupt." If they manage to beat those odds, the $100,000 top prize on the 24-slot bonus round wheel jumps to $1 million -- which they still have to hit, and then solve the puzzle. The only previous contestant to win it did so in October 2008.

"I am in complete and utter shock," Erhard said, according to ABC 33/40. "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!"

It's easy to see why Erhard loves "Wheel": Judging by her million-dollar bonus round performance, she's awfully good at it. There were just three letters visible on the board -- G, R, and T, with only the last appearing more than once -- under the unhelpfully broad category of "thing".

"Oh boy," said host Pat Sajak, with evident restraint. "Well ... uh, this looks challenging."

He tried to muster some encouragement. "Talk it out, you're a good player, you never know..."

And then, as soon as the clock started ticking, Erhard had the answer. Watch her in action below:

"We always root for our contestants and enjoy giving away money and prizes that can change people's lives for the better," the show's executive producer told ABC 33/40. "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."

It sounds like the windfall came at an opportune moment for Erhard (though there's probably never a bad time to win $1 million): She's engaged to be married, and her fiancé works in construction, a tough occupation in our current economic climate. Erhard herself is an animal pharmaceutical sales representative.

She's got a lot to think about: fewer worries, maybe, but new concerns. For advice that might prove useful in a situation like this, check out DailyFinance's Six Tips on How to Avoid Squandering a Financial Windfall.

Photo credit: YouTube.com