Dayton woman wins on ‘Wheel’ |

Dayton woman wins on ‘Wheel’

by Kurt Hildebrand

Dayton’s Elsie Morelli will be surrounded by family and friends as she watches herself spin the big wheel at 7:30 tonight on “Wheel of Fortune.”

The program will appear on KOLO-TV Channel 8. Viewers will see Morelli win a 2004 Toyota Spyder, a trip to Hawaii and cash.

In all, she took home $50,998 in cash and prizes, according to the show.

Morelli, whose husband and three of her four sons live in western Nevada, said the March 18 taping of the popular game show is a blur.

“I’m anxious to see the show,” she said. “Everything went so fast. I remember we did a hometown howdy when we were at the taping, but I don’t know if that will make it in. I do know I solved three puzzles and the bonus puzzle.”

Being on television tonight is the culmination of a year-and-half process, starting when “Wheel” held auditions in Reno.

“I went to ‘Wheel of Fortune’ on my computer and there was a button to click if you want to be a contestant. They sent me an e-mail back and invited me to an audition in Reno with 60 other people from around here.”

Only 20 were picked to go to the next level, then Morelli received a phone call from the show.

Morelli and husband, Frank, are longtime fans of the program, having watched it since before Pat Sajak took over as host.

She plans to have a dinner party at her home tonight and then sit down to watch the program.

“We will tape it,” she said.

Frank Morelli was a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy and officer in the Legislative Police for 12 years.

The couple moved to Gardnerville from Mammoth 15 years ago and then to Dayton about five years ago when they decided Gardnerville was growing too fast.

Morelli has been mostly a homemaker during her more than 50 years of marriage to Frank, though she has worked as a cashier at the Carson City Smith’s grocery.

Her four sons are between 44 and 50 years old.

“Wheel of Fortune” has been on the air for 21 seasons and has 16 million viewers daily.

Contact Kurt Hildebrand at or 881-1215.