Winning Wheel of Fortune's million-dollar prize is the no-hitter of game shows — a near impossible feat, a long slog made even less possible by the lineup in front of you, not to mention the luck of the spin. Last night Autumn Erhard pretty much walked the bases loaded then struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.
To win the prize, a contestant must land on a tiny ONE MILLION sliver of the wheel (pictured at right) during the normal game against two other contestants — then obviously choose a letter on the board and solve the puzzle, like for any other prize during the early rounds. That puts the potentially million-dollar "envelope" into play... but not until later. Then that contestant has to win the episode and make it to the bonus round — without landing on bankrupt in between. That still doesn't mean you have a shot at the $1,000,000. Then you have to spin another, smaller wheel in overtime, hoping that after you solve the final clue, you'll have landed on the biggest prize of them all again. Erhard got that far on Thursday night's episode, until she got to the dreaded "Thing" category... and picked some really bad letters. Then things really got interesting:
Boom. We're still shaking our heads, because that really was a tough workout. Erhard is obviously a skilled player — in addition to her $1 million prize, she made $30,040 in earlier rounds, plus trips to Belize and Arizona, according to ABC News — but her appearance on the show was actually kind of random: The California native was invited on the show because she is 30, and Wheel is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Now she's just the second person to win the million-dollar prize since Merv Griffin Enterprises introduced it in 2008. "They kept asking me how much I won, and I had to keep repeating it because no one believed me at first," Erhard said of her friends' and family's reactions on set. She now joins the pantheon of guessing-gameshow superhumans like Price is Right slayers Taylor and Terry, and Wheel goddesses Michelle Lowenstein and Caitlin Burke, all of whom will be remembered for being almost better than the game shows themselves... unlike this woman.