HUNTERSVILLE – A mother-daughter team can buy more than a vowel thanks to a recent win on the game show “Wheel of Fortune.”

A crowd of friends and family gathered in a living room March 12 to cheer on Nadine and Ashley Ivester as their episode aired. Cheerful ribbing toward the pair and groans toward competitors turned to excitement and surprise as the mother-daughter team went on to win the bonus round and took home nearly $68,000 worth of cash and prizes, including a trip to St. Lucia.

Nadine and Ashley Ivester, of Cornelius and Huntersville respectively, were filled with excitement and nervousness as the episode played out, having been sworn to secrecy on the outcome and seeing themselves on television for the first time.

“This is unreal,” Ashley kept saying from her spot on the sofa, occasionally offering her mom a fist bump after a good play or putting her face in her hands as she relived the frustration of losing all their money as the wheel landed on bankrupt twice in the same puzzle (which they wound up winning anyway).

The whole experience is all thanks to her mom.

“Ashley is a good guesser and we always watch the show,” Nadine said.

Nadine learned auditions were coming to Charlotte and went on the final day, thinking Ashley would join her. Nadine was called up for a puzzle and her name was put in a drawing to be called for later rounds.

When Nadine got the call, she asked Ashley to come too this time, but was told Ashley would just have to wait outside. So, they opted to try out as a mother-daughter team.

“Two months went by and we forgot about it,” Ashley said. “I was on my way to dinner and saw a California number, so I didn’t answer. The message said it was from 'Wheel of Fortune'.”

Nadine thought it was a prank, especially since they had to fly to California for taping Dec. 13 before the holidays.

The goal was to win enough money to pay for their trip and hotel. But luck was more in their favor.

The 12-hour day included playing their game and watching the taping of five other shows. After it all ended, Ashley said they just sat there still processing what had just happened.

And yes, Nadine said, the wheel is “wicked heavy.”  So much so, that it was decided she would be the spinner and Ashley would be the guesser. 

The set is smaller than it looks on TV and has the game board, wheel, a board of used letters and one for the standings off to the side.

“You are looking at five different things at once as well as trying to solve the puzzle,” Ashley said. “If we didn’t have each other, I don’t know how we would have done it.”

During commercial breaks when taping stops, Vanna White goes backstage “and eats peanuts,” Ashley said, while Pat Sajak jokes around with the cameramen.

“I love Pat,” Ashley said. “Vanna is beautiful.”

“Both are extremely friendly and make you feel comfortable,” Nadine added.

During the show, Sajak teased Ashley for messing up “electric can opener,” but getting “double shot mocha latte” in record time, and so did her friends watching at home.

But as friends and relatives call from throughout the country to celebrate with them, the Ivesters are taking it all in. Plus, Ashley said, it’s one more thing she can cross off her bucket list.