Monroe woman wins cruise, cash on Wheel
The Wheel was kind to Monroe resident Karen Tucker Thursday night.
Tucker won the game and went on to the bonus round, where she figured out the puzzle in the nick of time and received an additional $30,000, on top of the cash and prizes won in the game.
Tucker had a slow start, hitting the "miss a turn" slot and not solving the first few toss-ups. However, about halfway through the game she solved a prize puzzle, winning a Mediterranean cruise, and kept the momentum going from there.
Tucker said that during a commercial break she took a deep breath and said a quick prayer for God to calm her nerves and to let His will be done.
"I truly and honestly believe that it was nothing but His will," she said. "That gave me such a tremendous blessing."
Tucker believes in paying it forward and said she plans to use a portion of the prize money to give to her church and pay it forward. They are still deciding what to do with the money, but she said they are looking to the future with regard to their two children.
Contestants are not allowed to reveal how they did on the show until the episode airs, a secret which was difficult for Tucker.
"It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done," Tucker said. "I'm not the kind of person who keeps secrets, especially when it's something good...It was excruciating."
She joked that she is the type of person who will by her husband's Christmas gift in October and give it to him a few weeks later.
In the bonus round, the theme was place and Tucker had guessed enough to reveal that the first word was "private" the second word had fewer letters, with E being one.
"They have a used letter board where you can see all of the letters that have been used," Tucker said. "I looked at that letterboard and saw the H and it immediately came to me."
She credits her faith with noticing the H. Before noticing it she thought it was private bathroom or bedroom.
Host Pat Sajak fumbled with the envelope a bit, making Tucker nervous.
"As soon as it opened, I don't know how I maintained any kind of composure, which I really didn't," she said. "It was extremely thrilling. I've never done anything like this in my life. I knew that that it was going to be a blessing for us and we hope to bless others with it."
Tucker's family threw her a viewing party, complete with decorations of her face inside the Wheel of Fortune wheel.
"It was awesome," she said. She said she was surrounded by her closest family and friends.
Watching herself on television was a new experience for her.
"It was funny because it wasn't registering in my head that that was me. Then it did," she said. "It was so exciting watching it."
She said it was especially fun to watch her children watch the episode.
"The video of them watching me solve that bonus round is precious," she said.
Tucker, a Piedmont High School graduate, said she cannot believe the outpouring of support from the community.
"The support from the community and from the people of Union County has been one of the best parts," she said. "I have received phone calls and e-mails and messages through Facebook just supporting me and encouraging me"
"The support from everyone in our community has been just beyond my wildest imagination...it's been amazing," she said.