Melissa Joan Hart wins record $1M for charity on ‘Wheel of Fortune’


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Actress Melissa Joan Hart won big on the celebrity edition of “Wheel of Fortune,” and a Tennessee-based nonprofit is celebrating.

On Sunday, the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” star solved the bonus puzzle, which was “bran muffins,” to become the first contestant to win a $1 million prize on “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.” She won a record $1,039,800 for her charity of choice, Youth Villages in Memphis.

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“I’m still shaking,” Hart said Sunday after winning the prize. “Bran muffins. I’m gonna have to eat one tomorrow, I guess. I’m gonna buy stock in it or something.”

Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler said they didn’t immediately know exactly how much money they would get, but they knew they would get at least $30,000.

“Melissa called us several weeks ago and said that she was going to be on the show and she was practicing. Then she called us a few days after the show, it has basically been pre-recorded. She said, ‘I did really good, I won a lot of money,'” said Lawler. “So we thought maybe she made $40,000 or $50,000. Never even dreamed, never imagined that it would be over $1 million.”

He added, “When they turned that over and it was $1 million, we went crazy. I mean we just went nuts!”

Youth Villages focuses on children’s mental and behavioral health. The winnings will go toward the “LifeSet program,” which helps young people who have lived in the foster care system through age 18, when they must leave to live on their own.

“They don’t have the resources and support they need, so we provide a program that helps them find housing, stay in school, transportation, get a job — just manage their life like any young person would,” Lawler said. “About 20,000 kids a year age out of the foster care system, and we’ve been expanding this program nationally. So, this will help with our expansion.”

Lawler said Hart has visited Youth Villages’ campus in the past and she is hoping to visit and celebrate the win at the charity soon. 

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