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The internet is in an uproar over this dumb ‘Wheel of Fortune’ rule

Published Apr 3rd, 2021 9:01AM EDT
Wheel of Fortune
Image: Mariusz Blach/Adobe

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On a Wheel of Fortune broadcast just a few days ago, contestant David Pederson was all set to solve the puzzle and collect his cash. Every letter had been revealed except for two, but they weren’t necessary. It was clear that the answer to this crossword puzzle-style Wheel of Fortune challenge was a set of four words, as you can see in the video below: “Sole, Flounder, Cod, Catfish.” That’s exactly what Pederson said after declaring that he’d like to solve the puzzle, only to hear longtime host Pat Sajak tell him that — no, unfortunately, Pederson’s answer was incorrect.

That’s because he’d added an “and,” so that what he actually told Sajak was this: “Sole, Flounder, Cod, and Catfish.” This revealed a technicality that many viewers and even contestants might not be aware has been associated with the popular game show for a few years now. Basically, if the answer to the puzzle is a series of words, you have to say the answer exactly as it appears on the board, without adding something like “and” to the series of words. Pretty stupid, right?

It’s a bizarre enough rule that after Pederson was told during Wednesday’s broadcast that his answer was incorrect, the next contestant in the lineup went ahead and guessed an additional letter — apparently thinking that the answer must be something esoteric, since it so clearly looked like Pederson had it right. She then took her own crack at solving the puzzle (“Don’t add anything,” Sajak warned her) saying only those four exact words, with Sajak this time declaring that she’d gotten it correct.

“I thought that’s what you said,” she wondered aloud, gesturing to Pederson.

Apparently, this is a rule the game show has had in place since 2016, but it seems anal enough that fans unleashed a torrent of criticism on social media following the episode. “Wheel of Fortune’s draconian rule where you lose if you add ‘and’ to the crossword puzzle has to go,” Twitter user @JEB_II posted.

Other fans called this “the dumbest rule ever,” while others noted that Pederson, too, was warned by Sajak not to add anything as he prepared to solve the puzzle. “A rule is a rule,” tweeted @beers_gretchen. “He was clearly warned by Pat to NOT add anything before he answered. It is always sad to see someone lose a lot of what they earned on the board, but live with it.”

“So when a contestant doesn’t answer in the form of a question on Jeopardy! or goes over by a dollar on The Price Is Right, they should disregard it too?” asked Twitter user @jlcreynold82.

That doesn’t feel like an appropriate comparison in this case, however. My take: Sajak’s instruction about not adding anything seems a bit too vague. He should have said something along the lines of the contestant needing to say exactly what’s on the board. The fact that he doesn’t word his warning in that fashion is what makes some people feel like the rule is meant simply to trick people and trip them up.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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