Cheryl Hackinen won $11,450 on an episode of Wheel of Fortune that was taped in January in Culver City, CA. She had to hide her victory until the show aired Thursday night. (Image courtesy Wheel of Fortune)

Tacoma teacher wins big on 'Wheel of Fortune'

A Tacoma elementary school teacher showed her kids why good spelling is so important when she won a nice bundle of cash on national television Thursday night.

Cheryl Hackinen was a contestant on the latest edition of Wheel of Fortune. She is a 5th grade teacher at Tacoma's Skyline Elementary School, but it was her hobby that caught the attention of Wheel host Pat Sajak.

"I play poker, I play bunco," said Hackinen. "Ten dollar buy in, you know, not a lot."

"I believe you're going to prison," joked Sajak, "You've just confessed on national television to breaking several laws."

The inquiry didn't throw Hackinen off her game, though. She was able to solve puzzles that included "fettuccine alfredo" and "early bird special effects" to win a total of $11,450.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports Hackinen had been trying out for the show for six years before being chosen to be a contestant.

The show was taped in January, and Hackinen's students were suspicious their teacher might have done pretty well. She wasn't able to tell them that she had won until the show aired Thursday night, but Hackinen already had a trip to Hawaii in the works.

Kim Shepard, KIRO Radio Reporter
Kim Shepard is a news anchor and reporter for KIRO Radio and the office optimist. She's energetic, quick to laugh and has a positive outlook on life.
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