HOUSTON - It couldn’t happen to a nicer lady.
“This is so crazy! Thank you, Vanna! Oh, my gosh!”
That’s what a clerk from Houston gushed as she clutched her boyfriend after winning more than $75,000 worth of cash and prizes on Tuesday night’s “Wheel of Fortune.” Christina Morehouse, who’s always been what she describes as “a puzzle person” demonstrated her prowess during a lively and lucky show in which she won a new car, a vacation in Panama and $35,000 in cash.
“My dream came true!” she said as she sat in her cubicle back in Houston, where she works as a food services clerk for HISD.
Now, at last, she can talk about an experience she kept secret for weeks. Some of her co-workers were kept in the dark about her appearance until just a few days ago, and even then she didn’t tell any of them she had won.
“I’m really happy,” she said, cryptically. “The show went well.” She had applied to appear on the show twice, repeatedly logging onto the “Wheel of Fortune” website. But when she finally got the email inviting her to audition, her boyfriend didn’t believe it.
“He was like, ‘You’re lying. Call it. It’s a scam,’” she remembers. “I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ He made me call. And the lady was like, ‘No, this is not a scam.’”
After auditioning in Austin, she got a phone call one day at work. The phone reception in her cubicle is so weak, she had to run outside her office to take the call. She was so surprised she screamed.
But the people who work with her weren’t surprised at all. Her peppy personality makes her a natural for a game show.
“She has this rambunctious attitude,” said Valerie King, one of her co-workers.
She also has a lifelong love of puzzles, a passion that can only help a contestant competing to quickly guess which letters are missing from familiar words and phrases. At one point during the game, she says she guessed a phrase with only three letters exposed.
“The bonus round?” she says. “I knew what the puzzle was before I called for any letters.”
Just for fun, see if you can figure out the bonus puzzle. With only three letters exposed, she knew what this meant: “_ _ _ ST _ _ E _ _.”
Morehouse was especially excited to meet the nation’s most famous letter-turner.
“Oh, Vanna White! No make-up, no hair and she looked gorgeous still ...” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Vanna White is standing right next to me!’ It was pretty awesome.”
But one thing about the experience surprised her: The wheel itself.
“It actually is pretty heavy,” she recalls. “You wouldn’t imagine, but it is heavy. I wonder if I make any funny faces when I spin the wheel because it so heavy.”
She found it hard to concentrate on her job Tuesday, waiting for the show to air. Someone called her to tell her that she was featured in a promo on the “Wheel of Fortune” website, so she had a lot of fun watching herself on her computer. She was looking forward to the day after, when she could finally talk to her friends about the experience.
Oh, that bonus puzzle? “BOOST MY EGO.”
She knew it the second she saw it. That alone made her $35,000, which can buy a whole lot of vowels.