GSNN Extra: 20 Questions with
The tagline for this season of "Wheel of Fortune"
has been "One Spin, One Solve, One Million Dollars." Never has this been truer
than October 14, 2008, the night when a Santa Monica floral arranger by the name
of Michelle Loewenstein played America's Game... and had her life changed
forever. GSNN's Jason Block had an opportunity to interview the latest
game-show-made millionaire on her thoughts going into the historic occasion.
Hi, this is Jason Block with GameShowNewsNet.com
and I have an exclusive interview with the 1st Million Dollar Winner on Wheel of
Fortune...it is Michelle Loewenstein. How are you, Michelle?
ML: I am doing great, thank you Jason.
JB: Ok, we are going to do a segment called "Twenty Questions with Michelle",
JB: First up, what made you decide to audition for Wheel of Fortune?
ML: I have been a lifelong fan of the show and, you know, always thought I could
win. I loved it so much and always wanted to be a part of the show.
JB: Where did you audition?
ML: In California, right in Culver City.
JB: Describe the audition process. What did you think your chances of
getting on the show were after the audition?
ML: None actually. They take through a process during the audition and you have
to take a written 5 minute, you know, quiz and I thought I totally bombed it.
It's like, "I am totally not getting it." So, you never know.
JB: What was your reaction when you found out you got on the show?
ML: Really excited! I was screaming and could not believe it and thought this
was the best moment of my life!
JB: Did you have a specific amount in your mind that you wanted to win?
ML: No. You know I was happy just to be on the show, and I would have been happy
with the $1,000 complimentary "thank you for coming prize"...but, you know, as
soon as I found the million was I was like, "I would love to win that!"
JB: So, how did that fact that you could win a million dollars
season affect your thinking for auditioning to the show?
ML: It didn't have any effect because I had been auditioning way before it was
actually on the show. And when I move to California, I re-applied and then I
found out there was a Million Dollar Wedge.
JB: How did you prepare?
ML: I had always been watching the show, and I Tivo it every night, and you
know, just play along.
JB: You picked up the Million Dollar Wedge on the very, very first spin. How did
that alter your gameplay at all?
ML: I bought a lot of vowels.
ML: Yes. When I was watching the show at home I was never a vowel buyer and
actually got frustrated with the people who bought a lot of vowels. But it
changes everything once you have that Million Dollar Wedge in your hand.
JB: Now After round 1, you had won around $20,000+ including a 2nd honeymoon to
Hawaii. Did you think that score was going
to hold up, even at that point?
ML: I had no idea. The people who I had been playing with were really great and
they were good competitors and so it was difficult to see...and then when it's
the final spin, you know anything can happen, because if Pat lands on the $5,000
wedge it becomes $6,000 and only a few letters, it would have taken to catch up
to my score so, you know, you never know.
JB: Near the end of the game, there were a lot of missed letter callings
on your part.
ML: I know!
JB: How much of that was attributed to you not knowing the
puzzle or how much of that was you trying to avoid spinning
so you could protect the wedge?
ML: That was me not knowing the puzzle! (laughs) Everyone was really upset with
me that I didn't get TORONTO'S SPECTACULAR SKYLINE. But I am happy that I didn't
get it now. (laughs.)
JB: There you go.
ML: I really don't mind.
JB: What was going through your mind when you spun the Million Dollar
ML: You know, I was just hoping that I would get the Million Dollars and, you
know, praying that I would actually solve the puzzle. Because it's one thing to
spin and land on it, but if you don't solve that puzzle...you don't win
anything. So I was just saying, "Thank Goodness I solved the puzzle" because if
I didn't solve the puzzle and landed on the Million Dollars I think I would
have, like, lost it!
ML: It would have went from the 2nd best day of my life...to the worst day of my
JB: The first day, of course, was being married to your husband.
ML: That is correct.
JB: How long are you married now.
ML: Just a couple of months. We got married in July.
JB: When you saw the bonus puzzle, did you know it right away or
did you need the letters? When did you figure it out?
ML: When the letters that I called came up...the A and the C came up. I took a
look and was like, "Ok, I knew it." It's funny, because when you watch the show
and they show your face in that little circle...you see my face go from
concentration to a big smile! I knew it right then!
JB: Now, everyone wants to know...when Pat showed you the Million
Dollars in that envelope...what happened?
ML: I screamed and ran away from him! You know..it was so surreal...you know the
odds are impossible first to land on the wedge, and then to actually land on the
envelope also. So, I was just thrilled and so excited and I couldn't believe
it....it was just great. It was a great day.
JB: How hard was it to keep a secret for over 2 months?
ML: It was really...it was such a struggle...it was torture, because not only
that everyone knew that I was on...some people knew that the Million Dollar
Wedge was in play...so everyone was like "Why can't you just tell me?" and I
said, "If I tell you, I will lose everything..if I won anything, you know?" And
they were like, "Ok...Ok"...but that doesn't stop them. They still asked.
JB: Was there a confidentiality agreement you had to sign because you said you
might "lose it"?
ML: Yeah, well it was more like a verbal agreement...I had to promise it would
between my husband and I and that's it, you know...I wasn't going to take any
JB: What does it feel like to be part of Game Show History?
ML: Amazing. Especially since it's my favorite game show...you know you can't
ask for anything better...win a million dollars on your favorite game show! It's
very exciting for not only me and for the TV Show, so...the show is really
JB: Have you decided if you are going to take the annuity of 20 payments or the
lump sum of $660,000?
ML: I am taking the lump sum.
JB: What are your plans for it?
ML: We're probably going to buy a house and treat ourselves to a couple of nice
things and probably help out my family.
JB: And Taco what does he/she get? (Their dog)
ML: Taco is a boy! I am thinking he is going to get a brother or sister. We have
some friends who say, "You should name him Burrito, or Nacho..."
JB: Now, we ask all our contestant interviews these same last 5 questions..and I
am going to ask you them right now.
JB: I know this is probably the dumbest one, but what's your favorite game show,
past or present?
ML: Wheel. Of. Fortune.
JB: What's your favorite game show host, past or present?
ML: Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
JB: Let's say if the million runs out in some way and you wanted to try out for
another game show, which one would you go for?
ML: Hmmm....definitely not Jeopardy because I never get those answers right!
(laughs) Hmmm...what would I go for? Deal or no Deal, because I like to take the
chance...I would be the one that would just keep going.
JB: If you could remake one show from the past, which one would it be
and why? If you were a fan of game shows, from back then....
ML: Supermarket Sweep! I always loved that show too, but it's not on anymore.
JB: Last question, any final comments you want to make?
ML: Just thank you to everyone for all their support and for being as excited as
I am. It's just been a great thing to share with everybody...I am just really
JB: Well, that is our 20 Questions segment with Michelle Loewenstein a florist
and newlywed from California who is the first Million Dollar Winner in Wheel of
Fortune History. Michelle, thank you so much for being with us.
ML: Thank you
JB: And congratulations.
Jason Block can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.