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WATCH: Arkansas teacher wins $58,900 on 'Wheel of Fortune'

by Gavin Lesnick | September 14, 2018 at 11:43 a.m.

It was a busy July for Jodi McNulty.

The 48-year-old math teacher at White Hall High School knew she'd been selected to be a contestant on the popular game show Wheel of Fortune after auditioning in Little Rock. She just didn't know when she'd play.

Then word came via email five days before her wedding. She'd need to scrap a honeymoon trip to Brady Mountain and instead book a post-wedding flight to the Los Angeles area, where the show tapes.

It ended up being a good tradeoff. McNulty, in an episode that aired Thursday night as part of the show's Teacher's Week, won $58,900 in cash and prizes, a total that includes a still-to-be-planned all-expenses-paid trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean.

"So this will be our honeymoon," McNulty said Friday, taking a break from class and students who she said were still beaming over their teacher's big win.

McNulty first won nearly $6,000 by solving a puzzle with the lyric, "Don't know much about history," the opening line of Sam Cooke's "What A Wonderful World."

Then, in the show's Prize Puzzle where a correct solve nets the player a trip to some vacation destination, McNulty won again, solving "Flying to the Caribbean" and earning the Turks and Caicos excursion.

"Aren't you supposed to do the Sooie thing?" host Pat Sajack asked her after she correctly solved the puzzle.

"Sooie," replied McNulty, a Pine Bluff native who noted her Razorbacks allegiance in the show's intro.

Those two puzzle wins were enough to propel McNulty into the bonus round, where a correct solve of "Lightweight Blazer" earned her another $45,000.

McNulty has no plans for extravagant purchases. She said she'll pay off bills, establish an emergency fund and perhaps buy a new lawnmower.

The show taped July 26, and McNulty had to agree not to tell anyone what happened until the episode actually aired. Her husband and one of her best friends, who came along for the taping and watched from the audience, also had to keep the outcome quiet.

"I had to kind of threaten them within an inch of their lives," McNulty said with a laugh. "'You have got to keep your lips sealed.'"

For weeks, friends, family and students peppered McNulty with questions about how she did. She answered them the same way: "You'll have to watch the show."

After her episode aired, McNulty's phone buzzed with texts, calls and Facebook messages of congratulations, she said.

And Friday, back at school, her students were eager to discuss the secret she could finally talk about.

"I'm not a big Snapchatter," McNulty said, "but they said, 'You were the story on Snapchat last night. So that was kind of cool."


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