Arzo Mehdavi, an ER Nurse treating COVID patients, won over $56,000 on Wheel of Fortune — and got a surprise virtual visit from co-host Vanna White

By Gillian Telling
April 23, 2020 10:30 PM
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Wheel of Fortune contestant Arzo Mehdavi, an emergency room nurse from Hayward, California, who has been working on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic, hit the jackpot on Thursday, winning over $56,000 in prizes and cash.

In addition, she also got a sweet surprise while watching the episode with her friends and family: a visit from Vanna White.

The show’s co-host White surprised Mehdavi and her crew with the virtual drop-in visit, to congratulate the winner and chat with her guests.

“If I can bring her any kind of joy for all the hard work and dedication she has given to so many, I would do it a thousand times,” White, 63, tells PEOPLE. “It’s just overwhelming what they are doing, so it makes me feel so good to give back just a touch. It’s nothing for what they do for us.”

To pull off the socially distant surprise, White used Zoom. “It’s the next best thing, right?” she says.

Arzo Mehdavi

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Mehdavi, who works as an ER nurse, taped the show before social distancing and coronavirus had really hit in the U.S. After she won big, she went right back to her job, where she treats COVID patients daily at a Kaiser Permanente hospital in Hayward.

White greatly appreciates the work of Mehdavi and her peers on the frontlines. “I want to thank each and every one of them for their dedication and hard work and putting themselves out there,” she says. “Everyone from the medical professionals, the first responders, the essential retail workers, the delivery people, the restaurant workers, the teachers, just everyone. I’m so grateful that they are there for us.”

Vanna White
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Mehdavi’s Wheel of Fortune appearance provided an instance of happiness amidst the hectic times. “[Being on Wheel] is such a happy memory for me, and waiting for the show to air has given me something fun to look forward to,” Mehdavi says.

She is also no stranger to giving back to her community. For the last five years, Mehdavi has served as community services commissioner in her hometown, and last year she spearheaded a donation drive for northern California fire victims. She says she’s dreamed of being a Wheel of Fortune contestant her whole life: “Since I was a little girl playing the board game where you put the paper behind the plastic puzzle board.”