Math Teacher Sarah Manchester Wins the Big One on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Sarah Manchester hit the big one on “Wheel of Fortune.”

September 17, 2014, 8:02 PM
PHOTO: Math teacher Sarah Manchester won the $1 million grand prize on "Wheel of Fortune." The episode aired Sept. 17, 2014.
Math teacher Sarah Manchester won the $1 million grand prize on "Wheel of Fortune." The episode aired Sept. 17, 2014.
Carol Kaelson

— -- A middle school math teacher from Maryland joined an exclusive club Wednesday night, becoming only the third person to win the $1 million grand prize on Wheel of Fortune.”

Sarah Manchester of Silver Spring, Maryland, solved the wining puzzle – the phrase “Loud Laughter” -- on the episode that aired Wednesday during the show’s Teacher’s Week. In order to get to that bonus round, Manchester had to solve the prize puzzle, winning a trip to the Dominican Republic, and then also solved the third Toss Up Puzzle -- “The Pacific Ocean.”

After Manchester solved the bonus puzzle, the show’s co-host, Pat Sajak, took a peek inside the sealed envelope that the teacher had selected at random by spinning a wheel at the beginning of the round. When he asked her: “Can you use a million dollars?" Manchester covered her mouth and screamed. Her husband, two children and father rushed out from the viewing audience to embrace her while confetti fell.

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"My biggest goal was I wanted to get to the bonus round and win something because I wanted to give them that chance to run out and hug and everyone dance like you see on the show," Manchester said today on "Good Morning America."

"I wasn’t thinking about a certain amount of money. I was thinking, ‘It’d be great if they could all be on TV with me,'" she said.

In the hotly contested game, Manchester’s total take was $1,017,490.

“Astonished" was the only word Manchester said on "GMA" she could use to describe her reaction.

"I guess I knew it was a possibility but I didn’t really think it was a possibility," she said of the $1 million prize. "The math teacher in me was saying, ‘The probability. That’s not going to happen.'"

The episode was filmed earlier this year and Manchester said she and her family are still deciding how to spend her winnings.

"I’m working on that," she said. "We have a lot of ideas. A lot of plans in our family."

“Teacher’s Week” kicked off the 32nd season of the show.

“What a way to start the season,” Sajak said after Manchester’s win.

Manchester teaches and coaches the math team at Takoma Park Middle School in Montgomery County, Maryland. When she was growing up, she watched “Wheel of Fortune” with her parents and now challenges her own children with cash prizes for each puzzle they’re able to solve before she does.

“Wheel of Fortune” introduced the million-dollar grand prize wedge in 2008. If a contestant collects the wedge, solves the puzzle and makes it to the Bonus Round without being bankrupted, the top $100,000 cash prize is replaced by $1 million on the Bonus Round wheel, according to a release from the show.

The previous million-dollar grand prize winners are Michelle Lowenstein, who won in 2008, and Autumn Erhard, who collected her prize in 2013.

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