Every Teacher’s Dream Comes True on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

By Mark Walsh — September 18, 2014 2 min read
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A teacher won a $1 million grand prize on “Wheel of Fortune” on Wednesday night.

Sarah Manchester, a mathematics teacher from Silver Spring, Md., won the prize during the syndicated game show’s new-season premiere week, which the show has dubbed “Teacher’s Week.”

Yes, before you grammar teachers (excuse me, English/language arts teachers) hit the “post a reply” button, note that it is the producers of the “Wheel” who apparently are possessive-challenged. Because, of course, there was more than one teacher appearing on “Teacher’s Week.”

Some grammarians or style mavens would likely disagree with the singular possessive, instead calling for “Teachers’ Week.” But a quick inter-office debate here at Education Week suggested that at the least a case could be made for “Wheel of Fortune”'s usage, which was displayed both on the letter board and other graphics on the stage and in most references on the show’s Web site.

Manchester is a math teacher and coach of the math team at Takoma Park Middle School just outside the nation’s capital. (Not to hammer the “Wheel,” but the show’s publicists, who probably are paid more than the average teacher, spelled it as “Tacoma Park” in their press release about the win.)

Manchester made it to the bonus round Wednesday, where contestants try to solve a phrase after getting to pick a generous number of consonants and vowels. (Besides the usual R, S, T, L, N, and E, that most every contestant picks, Manchester selected D, G, H, and O as her extra letters.) That made it pretty easy for her to solve “Loud Laughter.”

Host Pat Sajak then revealed her prize from a sealed envelope based on a spin of a special prize wheel. (They do like their wheels on the “Wheel.”)

“Can you use a million dollars?” Sajak said. Manchester was joined onstage by her father, her husband, and her two children.

On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday, Manchester said the “math teacher in me” convinced her the probability of winning the $1 million prize was low. “That’s never going to happen,” she said she told herself. The top-rated syndicated game show added the possibility of a $1 million grand prize in 2008, and Manchester is the third contestant to win it.

The GMA hosts had Manchester solve a “Wheel"-type puzzle (“Best Day of My Life”). But no one asked her during a hectic segment whether she planned to stick with her teaching job.

In a blog post on the “Wheel” site, though, Manchester said she and her family went back to their hotel and ordered room service, something she said she had never done before. And she discussed possible travel to China or New Zealand and using the money to benefit others.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.