Lake Forest Elementary School Principal Laryn Nelson won $24,250 in cash and prizes on “Wheel of Fortune” Wednesday night, and now she’s trying to live in the moment, take it all in, and still do her job.
She said watching the show was a tradition with her grandmothers when she visited them as a child, and she remains a lifelong fan.
When Nelson saw the opportunity to become a contestant, she applied. In June she had a virtual audition and by July she was invited to be a contestant on Aug. 9 – the third day of the new school year.
“When I first got on the set, immediately I was thinking of my grandmothers and of how they would have loved to see me here,” Nelson said.
She described her time on set as surreal and said her face hurt from all the smiling she did the entire time. The contestants were all having fun and cheering each other on. They even plan to keep in touch after the show.
The wheel turned out to be both heavier and smaller than she expected from viewing it on TV, Nelson reported.
All the time practicing with the wheel and calling out letters meant she wasn’t nervous during the taping, she said, but that changed when she advanced to the bonus round.
“When Pat Sajak came over to me and said I was the top winner, I don’t remember what he said,” Nelson said. “It was an ‘Oh, my God’ moment like no other.”
Nelson’s bonus question was “What are you doing?” She revealed 10 letters, but was flummoxed by the oddly phrased answer, “Obtaining my goals.”
About that scream she let out when Sajak showed her the bonus prize she could have won – a new car – Nelson said it was just “me being me.”
“It was the disappointment because, of course, you want to get big money or a car,” she said.
Her winnings include a 10-day trip to Europe that will include cities such as Rome, Paris, and London that she plans to take with her son.
Ryan Seacrest doesn’t need to worry about losing his job when he takes over as host of “Wheel of Fortune” after this 41st season ends and Sajak retires. Nelson said she has no plans to become a game show host after her win like “Jeopardy” co-host Ken Jennings.
But she would definitely like to go back as a contestant again.
“I like my little school right here in Fulton County Schools. I have no desire to do anything like that,” Nelson said.
On Thursday, many students told Nelson they saw her on TV, which delighted her. She had spent time Wednesday night at a watch party with some of the school’s staff, where Nelson said she felt the love and outpouring of support from all of them.