Embarrassing Moments on Wheel of Fortune

When solving word puzzles goes very, very wrong.

Everybody knows how the game of Wheel of Fortune is played -- contestants pick letters they believe are included in a Hangman-style puzzle, earn money for correctly-guessed letters, then attempt to solve the puzzle. Usually the game is pretty straight-forward, with contestants battling to solve the puzzles and earn a trip to the Bonus Round. Sometimes, however, the attempts to solve the puzzles are so wrong it's not even funny. Actually no, that's inaccurate -- it's very funny.


Wheel of Fortune logo
Courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

This particular solve occurred during a Toss-Up puzzle. The board is shown, and then random letters appear until a contestant buzzes in to solve it. In this case, the puzzle board reads S_LF - PO_T___T. The attempted solution? "Self-Potato." Um, no. (Correct answer: Self-Portrait.)

Watch the video clip.

Everything is... What?

The category is "Phrase." The puzzle board has ample opportunity for some great cash-earning, especially when Pat Sajak has to do the Final Spin and all consonants end up being worth $5,000. The three contestants are all doing very well, and the puzzle board ends up looking something like this: E_ER_THING IS SHI_SH__E. First guess? "Everything is Sunshine." Nope. Next attempt? "Everything is Shipshore." Really? Finally the third contestant spins, gets a "P," and correctly solves the puzzle with "Everything is Shipshape."

Watch the video clip.

Fish Need Love Too

In this round it's another Toss-Up puzzle. The letters are revealed one by one until the puzzle board looks like this: _ISH L___. A contestant buzzes in with a guess of "Fish Love." Really, the moral of this story is to ensure that your solution makes sense before saying it out loud. After another contestant solved it with "Wish List," Pat had a good time ribbing the Fish Love guy.

Watch the video clip.

An Ugly Child

This is a quickie, but it's especially funny when you learn that the contestant who tried to solve the puzzle is a school counselor. The Toss-Up puzzle board read: AN __LY CHILD, and the school staff member responded with, "An Ugly Child." Doh. (Correct answer: An Only Child.)

Watch the video clip.

What End Would That Be?

This solve occurred during the Bonus Round, and the prize was a new car. The contestant had already won almost $8,000 in regular play, and his Bonus Round puzzle board looked like this after his letters were revealed: _T __ __T'S EN_. The only guess he made before his 15 seconds were up was "At My Cat's End." Sadly, he shouted out the correct solution, "At My Wit's End," right after the buzzer sounded.

Watch the video clip (the Bonus Round begins just after six minutes in).

A Group of...

Once again, this solve happened at the end of regular play. Pat Sajak has spun the wheel and all consonants are worth $1,600. After a bit of play the puzzle board revealed: _ _R__P __ __LL-__SH_RS. After calling the letter "P," of which there is only one revealed, the contestant attempted a solution with, "A Group Of Pill-Pushers." Hilarity ensued, with Pat shouting, "This is Wheel of Fortune Joe!" But wait! When the letters G,F, and W were called and only vowels remained, another contestant shouted out, "A Group of Will-Wishes!" Sigh. (Correct answer: A Group Of Well-Wishers.)

Watch the video clip.

Miners and Who?

Another Toss-Up round, another chance for humor. In this case the category was "Things." The letters popped up until the board read: _IN_ERS & _OES. Now I understand that these contestants are nervous and under pressure, but "Miners & Hoes" was the answer that came up here. Is that even a thing? (Correct answer: Fingers & Toes.)

Watch the video clip.

This One's Aces

Once again it's a Toss-Up puzzle that brings the funny. The board reads, "_N _C_ _F KI_DNE_S." The attempted solution? "An Ace of Kidneys." Sorry, no.

Watch the video clip (starts at about 1:34).

Watch Out for Earth Birds

Back when contestants earned money to spend on prizes that were located in the studio, this puzzle solution had viewers laughing right off of their couches. The puzzle board: THE EAR__ __R_ _AT_HES THE W_RM. The attempt at a solution? "The Earth Bird Catches the Worm." The poor woman looked genuinely confused that her guess wasn't right. (Correct answer: The Early Bird Catches the Worm.)

Watch the video clip. (The clip is part of an early promo for the show.)

That's Quite a Hat

This moment was mentioned when I interviewed Vanna White as one of her most memorable. The category is "Thing," and the board reads: ST_R_F__M ___. The contestant's guess? "Styrofoam Hat." Close. Sort of. (Correct answer: Styrofoam Cup.)

Watch the video clip (which starts at 1:31).

Remember, the Solution Should Make Sense

If you ever get to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and you want to avoid seeing yourself on lists such as this one, keep one thing in mind. The puzzle solutions always, always make sense. Think before you blurt!