'Wheel' of incredibly good fortune: Contestant stuns with one-letter guess, $91K win

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By Randee Dawn

The Dec. 26 episode of "Wheel of Fortune" was a lot of fun to watch for just about everybody — except perhaps for the poor contestants paired up alongside Matt DeSanto.

That's because DeSanto not only was able to solve an early puzzle on the show after only seeing a single letter, he also ended up solving every other puzzle during the main game! By the end of the show he'd racked up $91,892, a new record for the 39-year-old series.

It all started in that early round when, with nothing more than an "E" on the board, DeSanto somehow came up with the winning answer: "The Lone Ranger."

How? The "Wheel of Fortune" player credits luck.

"The wheel definitely worked in my favor," DeSanto told TODAY.com. "I was extremely fortunate."

The Malvern, Pennsylvania-based dad of two said he'd been watching the show since he was around 5 years old, but that he undertook no particular special preparation for his appearance. "Maybe some extra crossword puzzles," he chuckled. "I tried not to overthink it too much."

It was the show's first sweep since 2011, and DeSanto is the first to have topped $70,000 before heading into the bonus round. 

That's where his lucky streak came to an end.

DeSanto was unable to get the final bonus round clue ("wooden gavel"), which limited his ultimate winnings. For those who get lucky and win that final bonus round, a $1 million prize is then up for grabs. (A math teacher from Maryland last took that home in September.)

"I was pretty exhausted [by the bonus round]," recalled DeSanto, who guessed "gavel" but couldn't get the first word. "I should have picked better letters."

Still, we think clearing the decks straight through the game and setting another kind of record is pretty special, too. And it turns out, so did the show, who posted about the win on Facebook:

... and one of his co-contestants, who generously tweeted her congratulations later on:



Talk about a head-turning — and letter-turning — success!

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