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Wilkeson's Swift is big winner on ‘Wheel'

That familiar face popping up on television last week belonged to Wilkeson resident Sharon Swift, who celebrated as a big winner on the popular program, “Wheel of Fortune.”

She was the winning contestant Jan. 18, during a program featured on the show's “Two Tickets to Paradise Week.”

Swift, a happily married mother of five and grandmother of nine, won $46,254 in cash and prizes, including a trip to Santa Barbara valued at $6,204 won during the “Prize Puzzle” segment of the show and a $1,000 gift certificate to Linens-N-Things.

Swift was a long shot to even appear on the program. Her friend, Lacey resident Lori Houghton, spent hours standing in line in Seattle, appearing at an “all call” tryout. Houghton had to drop out of the process due to scheduling conflicts, but passed the opportunity along to her former Forest Service co-worker.

Eventually, Swift got the call. Could she be in Southern California in two weeks? You bet. And Houghton went along for the experience.

“I was more or less guaranteed I would be on,” Swift said. But the TV folks leave some wiggle room, in case a contestant arrives and is an absolute dud.

The energetic Swift had no such trouble.

Once on the show, which taped Oct. 6, she had initial jitters, but admits to calming down once she had collected $2,000 in prize money. That amount, she explained, covered the cost of the trip.

But Swift wasn't about to stop at a measly $2,000. She steamrolled her way to the end, using an innate gift to “see” the puzzles with only a few letters provided.

“All of a sudden a light bulb comes on,” she said, explaining her abilities.

“I watch the show all the time,” she said, “and I'm always guessing the puzzle way before anyone else.”

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