Tuscaloosa Native Wins Big on Wheel of Fortune, Takes Home $20K Prize
Tuscaloosa resident Octavia Kelly-Martin is basking in the glory of winning the hit game show Wheel of Fortune, where she took home a little over $20,000.
Kelly-Martin's episode aired on national television Thursday night, where she represented Tuscaloosa, mentioning "Roll Tide" on numerous occasions throughout the airing.
Kelly-Martin grew up watching the game show with her grandmother and mom and never thought she would have a chance to compete until she randomly submitted an application in June 2021.
Kelley-Martin was shocked when she was contacted in November 2022 to compete in a preliminary competition via Zoom to determine if she would get the chance to become a contestant on a live show.
"I thought the email was a scam," Kelly-Martin said. "I was like 'there is no way they contacted me.'"
During the virtual contest, she dominated the competition, winning three of the four puzzles that the contestants were asked to solve. Kelly-Martin said ten minutes after the competition, she received an email that she was selected to compete on the show.
Kelly-Martin and her three daughters flew to California on December 12 where she was required to undergo a COVID pre-screening and taping of her episode began the next day.
She said during her experience, she was able to be a member of the studio audience and contestant, as multiple episodes were being taped in one day.
She said she was very confident in herself while filming and was not nervous about what the outcome would be.
"I wanted to go on the stage like I owned it," she said. "I had the confidence that I would be the one to answer every puzzle."
Kelly-Martin said her regret was not solving for one puzzle where she knew the answer was "parasailing above the water" but decided to spin prior to answering where she ultimately went bankrupt. She also wished she chose the category "phrase" over "thing" in the bonus round, where she did not end up solving the puzzle but took home $20,250 in cash prizes.
As for her prize winnings, she said she plans to use her earnings to pay off some bills and take herself on a nice trip.
Due to legal reasons, she was not allowed to talk about her episode until the show aired, keeping it a secret from her family and friends.
"My mom lives in the same house as me and she didn't know until the show aired," Kelly-Martin said.
She celebrated the debut by hosting a watch party with her close loved-ones.
She said she enjoyed meeting many amazing people during the experience, including Pat Sajak and Vanna White, the show's hosts.
"It was a really amazing experience," Kelly-Martin said "We had a meeting prior to the show where we went over the rules and Vanna White walked in and then we went into another building and Pat was riding around and it made everything so real to me. I was standing directly next to Pat and he was picking with me and we were laughing. I really had a good time."
Kelly-Martin said she was proud to represent Tuscaloosa and honor the University of Alabama, which is special to her as she has three children who are Alabama alumni.
"When people think of Tuscaloosa, they think of Alabama football and Nick Saban and my kids graduated from UA so I had to represent with a 'Roll Tide,'" she said. "I was also honored that my episode aired during Black History Month because I'm the first Black woman from Tuscaloosa to be on the show. It was really cool."