Pat Sajak Defends Wheel of Fortune Contestants From “Online Ridicule” After Viral Flub

Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak says it “pains” him to see to see contestants subjected to “online ridicule” after a clip of a puzzle solving fail went viral.

By Ashley Joy Parker Mar 03, 2022 1:31 AMTags

Pat Sajak would like to solve this conundrum.

After a clip from an episode of Wheel Of Fortune—in which contestants were stumped to solve a seemingly obvious phrase—went viral with mockery, the show's longtime host is coming to the contestants' defense.

"It always pains 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 awry," Pat began a mutli-tweet message on March 2. "Last night's 'Feather in your cap' puzzle was a case in point. Sitting at home, it seems incredible that they couldn't solve it, but I knew in real time what was happening."

The 75-year-old host explained that the first wrong guess of "Feather in your hat" was totally understandable, as many people actually use the phrase that way. But once the players knew it wasn't the correct answer, he believes the stunned players were "thrown a curve ball" and confused as to what else the phrase could be.

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"You begin getting worried about looking stupid, and if the feather isn't in your hat, where the heck can it be?," he continued, explaining the players' possible thought process. "You start flailing away looking for alternatives rather than synonyms for 'hat.' And, of course, when it's solved, you want to crawl in a hole."

On the March 1 episode of the ABC game show, contestant Laura Machado attempted to finish the puzzle, "Another feather _n yo_r _a_." After her first guess, "Another feather in your hat" was wrong, she tried two other times swapping out the final word for "lap" and "map," unsuccessfully. The two other contestants also struggled during the round. Christopher Coleman incorrectly guessed the letter "G," landed on Bankrupt and also failed to solve the puzzle. During Thomas Lipscomb's turns, he landed on Bankrupt and Lose a Turn before eventually successfully guessing the letter "C" and solving the puzzle.

 Social media quickly blew up with many users making fun of the contestants and causing Wheel of Fortune to become a trending topic. One tweeted, "History was made on #WheelOfFortune tonight. Same person missed solving the puzzle 3 times! Anyone ever have a feather in their HAT, LAP or MAP? It's CAP!" while another wrote, "For the love of God please tell me ‘another feather in your cap' is not that uncommon an expression #WheelOfFortune." 

Pat—who has steered the ship on Wheel Of Fortune for over 40 years—said in his Twitter message that he was praised online for "keeping it together" and not making fun of the players, but it's something he said he would never even consider doing.

"Truth is, all I want to do is help to get them through it and convince them that those things happen even to very bright people," he said "These are good people in a bad situation under a kind of stress that you can't begin to appreciate from the comfort of your couch."


Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

He continued, "I have fun with players and I tease them occasionally, but when things go wrong, I feel for them, and I try to salve the wounds on camera and off."

While Pat admitted it was OK to laugh at the situation, he urged people online to "have a little heart."

He added, "After all, you may be there one day. And no one wants to be trending on Twitter."

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