Wheel of Fortune! This, along with Jeopardy, are definitely the two most favorite game shows in American television history. Who are some of the big winners that have gone on to read a hefty prize? Read on more to find out about the top 10 prizes given away in Wheel of Fortune history.
Michelle Loewenstein ($1,026,080)
Michelle Loewenstein was the first-ever winner of a prize greater than $1 million in the history of Wheel of Fortune. Even better, she won the coveted million dollar prize just after she returned home from her honeymoon, fresh off a marriage. With that money, most if it was invested away into a savings, although she did treat herself to a new car and spoiled herself. The final puzzle that she solved was “Leaky Faucet.” Michelle won the prize when this episode of Wheel of Fortune was filmed on August 8, 2008, or 08/08/08. She attributes this to being married on July 7, 2007, or 07/07/07.
Autumn Erhard ($1,030,340)
Autumn Erhard, known as winner of the largest prize in Wheel of Fortune history (but not the first one to win $1 million, which Michelle had that honor), managed to win a staggering $1,030,340 off her filming round. This was achieved in 2013, 5 years after the first million dollar winner. This is all on top of the other $30,000 she won in prizes earlier on the show. Autumn graduated from the University of California, based out of San Diego, in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 2005. Since the filming of the episode in 2013, she has worked as a sales representative at Animal Health International, Inc. The puzzle she solved was “Tough Workout.”
Sarah Manchester ($1,017,490)
Just one year after Autumn Erhard placed the $1 million prize, Sarah Manchester, a match teacher based out of Silver Spring, Maryland, won yet another $1 million prize on Wheel of Fortune. She went on to win the prize during Wheel of Fortune’s “Teacher’s Week,” which consisted of the first 5 episodes of the show’s 32nd season. Sarah would go on to solve the puzzle “loud laughter,” which was plainly described as ‘thing.’ Since then, Sarah has continued her teaching in her home state of Maryland, although now she is far more recognisable on the streets than your average math teacher.
The Five $100,000 winners ($100,000)
In April of 2016, to kick off the show’s upcoming season, contestants would be entered to win $100,000 by solving the game’s final puzzle. Typically, on Wheel of Fortune, you would spin the final wheel and reveal your prize, but every prize was $100,000. The contestants were not told this, and in a twist of fate, all 5 contestants that week won $100,000. They all have individual names and placed with prizes ranging from $117,500 upwards of $140,350, but all of them walked away with a cool amount of change in their pocket.
Matt DeSanto ($91,892)
Matt Desanto perhaps pulled off the impossible in December of 2014; on the very last puzzle to win the grand prize, Matt had only one letter given to him. He continued on to set a record with a one-letter hint, solving the puzzle “The Lone Ranger.” For his efforts, Matt won the final prize at $80,000, which brought him out to nearly $92,000 in winnings. Since then, Matt Desanto has returned to his hometown of Malvern, Pennsylvania and continues operating his pizza business, which has boomed in business thanks to his newfound status as a hometown hero.
Andy Kravis ($50,550)
Andy Kravis is known for having appeared on multiple game shows, including Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Million Second Quiz. On Wheel of Fortune, Andy managed to solve his final puzzle as “Bear in the woods” and walked away with a $25,000 grand prize and an additional prize in the form of a trip to the bahamas, worth an estimated $7,000. Andy also won $2.6 million in the Million Second Quiz in September of 2013, and is continually active on the Jeopardy message boards with the user name “alkrav112.”