HOUSTON — Hundreds of Ellen fans stood for hours in the Houston heat Wednesday for a chance to appear on her show. And two of them walked away with huge prizes. 

Others left with good memories, new friends and sunburns. 

The segment, taped at Minute Maid Park before the Astros game, is kind of top secret. 

We can tell you Astros ace Justin Verlander makes an appearance.

And Sharon Russ, from Beaumont, won the grand prize -- a shiny new Chevrolet Blazer. 

Russ said she's been through a rough patch recently, and the new SUV couldn't have come at a better time.

"It’s just mind-blowing. I’m completely grateful. And this has totally changed my life forever," Russ said. "And I will pass it forward."

The other big winner was 25-year-old Jarvis Stevenson, from Houston.

"I won something! I never thought I would win anything. And I’m totally grateful for it."

Jarvis didn't want to tell us what he wrote to Ellen DeGeneres that caught the show's attention. 

Some of the contestants who competed for prizes were chosen ahead of time based on what they wrote. Others were picked out of the crowd at random. 

The first Ellen fan arrived at 6 a.m. after driving for hours all the way from Palmhurst, a small town in the Rio Grande Valley, to be a part of her favorite daytime show.

"We’ve been here since 10 this morning," Makayla Hanson said. She and her mom say they've waited years for the opportunity to be on the show. "We got our chairs. We got ice chests. Talked to other people around us."

People passed their time in line making signs to flash on TV.  Others tried to stay still as Houston's humidity set in. 

From elaborate costumes to skipping work for the day to making new friends in line, 

"The people that I met here today. We probably would’ve never spoken on the streets," said said Chere Chopp. "But just like Ellen does on television, she brought us together too."

By 6 p.m. the show taping wrapped and the crew hustled to tear down the stage that filled the Plaza on Crawford Street.  

And Ellen, tweeted one more message to Astros fans.

Ellen thanks Astros fans

"Thanks to everyone who showed up at the Astros game, especially Justin Verlander.  Y'all were fantastic.  Not at throwing, but..."

You'll find out what she means by that when you watch the show Friday at 3 p.m. on KHOU. 


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