Melanie Bowen landed the chance of a lifetime to compete on one of her favorite game shows recently, and better yet, the Montgomery County high-school teacher walked away a big winner.
Bowen started watching "Wheel of Fortune" when she moved in with her aunt after college. Snagging a spot as a contestant on the show seemed like something that would never happen, but that didn't keep her from trying.
When the "Wheelmobile" visited Atlantic City, she decided to try her luck again. This time, she landed an audition, and a few weeks later, she received a letter telling her she had secured a place on the show. She hopped a plane to Los Angeles to appear on the show's "Philadelphia Week."
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Down on her luck during the first two rounds, but still high in spirit, Bowen was anxious going into round three with $0 after going bankrupt twice.
"I know in 'Wheel of Fortune,' it's not over until the final spin and I still had time. I tried not to let it shake me," Bowen said. In the final round, her luck turned around as she won the prize puzzle and managed to move on to the bonus round.
Bowen explained the double Ls were the key to solving the final puzzle: "Paid in Full." In the end, she walked away with more than $63,000 -- including an all-expenses-paid trip to the Dominican Republic and a brand new car.
Bowen said the support from her Spring-Ford High School community was overwhelming.
"I'm still being congratulated when I'm out at the store or wherever. My students were super excited for me and thrilled to hear about my experience," she said. "Things have pretty much returned to normal at school, but I'm hopeful that my 'Wheel' experience showed my students that they can do anything that they set their minds to."
Moving forward, Bowen is planning on taking her trip to the Dominican with her husband and surprising her 4½-year-old daughter, Josie, with a trip to Disney World in June.