Booneville native, teacher, and local business owner Ashlee Martin walked away with a grand prize following Monday night’s edition of the game show Wheel of Fortune. In total, Martin received an all-expense paid trip for two to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for eight days and a cash prize of $60,000.
Martin first submitted her application to be on the show in December 2021, later undergoing numerous interviews and practice puzzles before being put into the audition pool in March 2022.
From there, Martin remained on the waiting list until late July, when she was informed that she would finally be able to try her hand at the game on August 11 in Las Vegas. The game was then taped and scheduled to air over a month later on September 19.
As a lifelong viewer of Wheel of Fortune, Martin explained that her main strategy was to focus on the board and letters, not the wheel.
“I knew the one thing I couldn’t control was the wheel,” Martin stated. “I spent all of my time looking at the letters and plugging letters to see what would work.”
When asked what prompted her to apply to be on the show, Martin expressed that her students and love of literature were her main source of inspiration.
“I had a wheel on my desk and I would play Wheel of Fortune with my struggling readers or my beginning readers and we would learn the difference between vowels and consonants,” Martin said. “That’s what gave me the idea to try and audition.”
This year marks Martin’s 16th year as a teacher. She is currently working in her first year as an educator at Marietta Elementary School.
As a way to show her thanks to her school for the ongoing support, Martin rented a snow cone truck using a portion of the cash prize earlier this week.
Now, Martin has expressed that she wishes to use the remaining amount of her prize money to help her surrounding community by paying off a loan that allowed her to purchase and renovate a building in downtown Booneville. She plans to move her business, heARTbeat, to the new location when it is completed. The shop specializes in selling local goods and artwork, as well as providing an array of art classes to the youth in the area.
“Winning Wheel of Fortune, it’s crazy how the numbers turned out,” Martin said. “We will actually own our own building downtown and not have to worry about that payment… and just really get to pour into that business.”