Bakersfield woman wins big on Wheel of Fortune

Della Hodson Wheel of Fortune.jpg

A Bakersfield woman won big on Wheel of Fortune.

Della Hodson, who happens to be the president and CEO for United Way of Kern County, took home more than $26,000 in cash and prizes. Among her spoils: a trip to Antigua.

“I got off to a fast start,” Hodson said Tuesday over the phone. That fast start helped her be the episode's big winner.

Her show was shot in April at Sony Pictures in Culver City. The episode aired Monday night on KBAK-CBS.

Hodson said being on the game show was a "bucket list" item, and she excelled once given the chance. Hodson won two of three toss-up games and three of four puzzles.

The hardest puzzle to solve was her last: “heavenly papayas.”

"Papayas is a tough word," Hodson recalled.

She first qualified for the show at a Wheelmobile event early last year at Eagle Mountain Casino. A few months later, she was invited to a more in-depth audition in Bakersfield with about 60 other people. A couple weeks after that, she got a letter in the mail that she was invited to compete on the show.

Move the calendar forward a year, and Hodson's tales make the wait sound more than worthwhile.

“It really was a lot of fun," she said.

Hodson was especially appreciative of the Wheel of Fortune staff. She said they were welcoming and excited for the contestants, even though she knew it was routine for them.

"They always seemed to be mindful that this was our one shot to be on the show," she said.

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