Had Renee Lail scratched off an instant prize on her original Wheel of Fortune ticket last fall, it would not have been eligible for entry in the second-chance drawing that sent her to Hollywood.
The Shelby woman didn’t know it at the time, but more good fortune would come her way on the trip five months later.
Lail, the owner and operator of a day care, was one of three players who won grand prizes in second-chance drawings for the “Wheel of Fortune” game. The other winners were Joshua Huffman of Morganton and Craig Peters of Statesville.
Each won $1,000 in spending money and round-trip airfare plus five-day, four-night deluxe hotel accommodations for themselves and up to three guests. Lail decided to take her mother and sister to Hollywood.
“from the minute we got off the plane, there were drivers waiting for us,” Lail recalled. “everything they had planned for us was so nice. It was one good thing after another.”
Lail’s lucky streak continued as she was randomly selected from the pool of nationwide lottery players who won grand prize trips to play a lottery players-only non-broadcast version of the “Wheel of Fortune” game show with Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
The well-known hosts, Lail said, were very friendly and made the players feel comfortable. “Vanna actually came and talked to us before the show,” she said.
The highlight of Lail’s performance was solving a prize puzzle to win a trip to Las Vegas. in all, she spun and solved her way to $12,200 in cash and prizes, including the trip.
“if I hadn’t won any more money, it still would have been wonderful,” Lail said. “Playing the game was icing on the cake.”
The opportunity to win second-chance prizes is a feature of select instant games. Past winners have claimed trips, cars, and cash prizes as large as $1 million.
Since the lottery began through June 30, 2011, Cleveland County education programs received more than $24.3 million in lottery funds. by law, those funds pay for teachers’ salaries in grades K-3, school construction, need-based college scholarships and financial aid and prekindergarten programs for at-risk 4-year-olds.