‘Wheel of Fortune’: What Was the Largest Prize Ever Won in the Show’s History?

by Keeli Parkey

Throughout its more than 40 years on the air, “Wheel of Fortune” has given away millions and millions of dollars in cash and prizes. But, did you know that the largest prize in the history of the show was won during 2013?

According to an article on GoodHouseKeeping.com, contestant Autumn Ernhard won $1,030,340 on May 30 of that year. She won her final puzzle when she only had four letters to work with. The solution to the final puzzle was “Tough Workout.”

Watch Autumn Ernhard Solve an Almost Impossible Puzzle on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Before she solves the final puzzle, Pat Sajak momentarily chats with Ernhard. The camera cuts to the crowd to show her parents, Harold and Francine, as well as her fiancee, Joey. Her father was holding her $1 million wedge as she faced the challenge of the final puzzle.

Also before the final puzzle, Sajak tells Ernhard and the viewing audience that the usual $100,000 envelope on the smaller wheel has been replaced with a $1 million envelope. “We hope you land on (the million dollars. Spin it,” Sajak tells her. She does and hands the envelope to Sajak.

The category for Ernhard’s final puzzle was “thing.” It was two words. Of course, the letters R, S, T, L, N, and E were added to the puzzle. Thanks to a “Wild Card” she had received earlier, Ernhard was able to guess an extra consonant. She guessed the letters: M, P, C, G, and A.

Even with the letters, the board Ernhard had to face looked like this: “T**G* **R***T.” It certainly looked like her odds of winning weren’t great. Shockingly, she guesses the solution on the first try. “What!” Sajak exclaims. “I am very impressed.” Vanna White is thrilled!

Not surprisingly, Ernhard is even more thrilled with her victory! She claps and jumps up and down. Sajak then opens the envelope to reveal that she won $1 million. And, her level of enthusiasm goes through the roof! Her family rushes to the stage to congratulate her. It must be one of the most exciting moments in the history of “Wheel of Fortune.”

You can watch Autumn Ernhard solve the puzzle and take home the biggest prize in the history of “Wheel of Fortune” below.

Three Contestants Have Won a Million Dollars on Game Show

While Autumn Ernhard’s $1,030,340 is the largest prize ever won on an episode of “Wheel of Fortune,” she is not the only contestant to win $1 million. In addition to Ernhard, two other contestants have won that prize.

According to an article on Radio.com, the first million-dollar prize was awarded in 2008. It was won by Michelle Loewenstein. She collected $1,026,080. “Leaky Faucet” was the solution to her final puzzle.

The other million-dollar winner was teacher Sarah Manchester. She won $1,017,490 in 2014. She won by solving the puzzle with the phrase “Loud Laughter.” She appeared on “Teacher’s Week.”