Not how she hoped the game would end, a Wheel of Fortune contestant claimed she wasn’t declared a winner due to her mispronouncing a word.
After fully solving the puzzle, Wheel of Fortune contestant Shauna Williams incorrectly pronounced congenial, costing her the win during the Wednesday, Jan. 3, episode.
Following Williams’ mispronunciation, the game show’s long-time host, Pat Sajak, quickly replied, “Uh no.” A fellow contestant responded correctly and ended up scoring the points.
Viewers were quick to share their thoughts on X (formerly Twitter). “No way this lady lost Wheel of Fortune with the entire puzzle solved,” one person wrote with cry-laughing emojis.
Another viewer commented, “Is it just me or did Shauna get a raw deal on the R1 puzzle? It’s been a while since somebody got buzzed for mispronouncing a word.”
Entertainment Weekly reports this isn’t the first time a Wheel of Fortune contestant lost a puzzle due to a technicality. In 2021, contestant Charlene Rubush missed being a winner of an Audi Q3 after she took too long of a pause to answer correctly in a bonus round.
‘Wheel of Fortune’ Host Pat Sajak Defended Common Contestant Mistakes
In a since-deleted post on X, Pat Sajak advised Wheel of Fortune fans to go easy on contestants who cannot solve puzzles.
“It always paints me when nice people come on our show to play a game and win some money and maybe fulfill a lifelong dream and are then subject to online ridicule when they make a mistake or something goes wrong,” Sajak stated, per Entertainment Weekly.
He then pointed out the “Feather in your cap” puzzle as an example. “Sitting at home, it seems incredible that they couldn’t solve it, but I knew in real time what was happening. The first attempted solve was ‘Feather in your hat’ which, by the way, is how a lot of people say it. So all three players thought it was a good solve, and were stunned when I said it was wrong.”
The host wrote that viewers not only have sympathy for contestants but also develop some empathy as well. “Now imagine you’re on national TV, and you’re suddenly thrown a curve and you begin getting worried about looking stupid. And if the feather isn’t in your hat, where the heck can it be? You start flailing away looking for alternatives rather than synonyms for ‘hat,'” Sajak explained.
“Good-natured laughter is one thing,” he added. “Heck, they laughed at themselves. But, hey, cut them some slack. Unless you’re there, you have no idea how different it is in the studio.”