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Wheel of Fortune (US game show)

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Wheel of Fortune is a game show on television. It was created by Merv Griffin in 1975. It was first hosted by Chuck Woolery from 1975 until 1981. Pat Sajak has been hosting the show since 1981. The show has been aired in syndicated format since 1983.


The game combines hangman with a wheel that gives away cash and prizes. At the beginning of the show, there is a $1,000 toss-up puzzle. During a toss-up puzzle, one letter at a time appears on the board. Contestants can ring in to solve the puzzle before the last letter is revealed. An incorrect solution disqualifies that contestant for the rest of that round.

A second toss-up is worth $2,000 and determines who starts round one. The contestant who wins the second toss-up starts the first round. There are 24 spaces on the wheel. A contestant who lands on a cash space is credited with that amount multiplied by how many of a particular letter is in the puzzle.[1] A contestant can buy a vowel for $250.

Any contestant who lands on Lose a Turn loses his or her turn but not the winnings they have earned during the round. If a contestant lands on Bankrupt, he or she will lose all of his or her winnings they have earned during the current round as well as a Wild Card. The Wild Card is used to call for another consonant while the wheel is still on the cash space a contestant landed on. Also on the wheel are two "1/2 Car" tags. If a contestant wins a round with both tags, they win a car. Both tokens offer $500 per letter if claimed. There is also a prize wedge and a Gift Tag. The prize wedge is a prize announced before the first round. To win it, a contestant has to land on the wedge, call a correct letter, and solve the puzzle without hitting Bankrupt. The Gift Tag is $1,000 credit for purchases from a company. Both tokens offer $500 per letter if claimed. In the first three rounds, there is a special wedge that, if claimed and bought to the bonus round, allows the contestant a chance to play for $1,000,000 in the bonus round. If a contestant lands on Free Play, he or she will not lose his or her turn for an incorrect guess or incorrect solution. A consonant is worth $500. The top dollar value on the wheel is $2,500 in round one, $3,500 in the second and third rounds, and $5,000 from the fourth round on.

In round two, two mystery wedges are added to the wheel. One hides $10,000 and the other hides a Bankrupt. A contestant who lands on a mystery wedge calls for a letter. He or she may take $1,000 per letter occurrence or turn over the wedge. If one wedge was turned over, the other acts as a regular $1,000 cash space and cannot be turned over. Round three is the Prize Puzzle round. The contestant who solves the puzzle wins a prize. Also in round three is an Express wedge. If a contestant lands on this wedge and calls a correct letter, they can continue playing the game like normal, or choose to play for $1,000 per letter without spinning. If a contestant chooses to play for $1,000 per letter without spinning and calls a wrong letter, they lose all of the winnings they have earned during the round.[2]

A third toss-up puzzle, worth $3,000, determines who starts the fourth round. When time runs short, a bell sounds. The host spins the wheel. Remaining consonants are worth $1,000 plus the value in front of the left-most contestant. The contestants take turns calling for letters. A vowel can be called at no cost. Then, the contestant in control has three seconds to solve.[3]

The contestant with the most cash at the end of the game advances to the bonus round. If the game ends in a tie, another toss-up puzzle is played to determine who goes to the bonus round. The contestant spins the bonus wheel. A category is announced. A bonus puzzle is revealed. The contestant is given the letters R, S, T, L, N, and E. The contestant then calls for three more consonants and a vowel. If a contestant has a Wild Card in the bonus round, a fourth consonant is called. The contestant who has solved the puzzle wins the prize they landed on. Any contestant who fails to solve the puzzle loses. The host then shows the prize in the envelope regardless of the result. Prizes include cash amounts ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 in $5,000 amounts, a car with $5,000 cash, and a top prize of $100,000. If the Million Dollar Wedge is bought to the bonus round, the $100,000 envelope is replaced with a $1,000,000 one.


  1. Newcomb, Horace (2004). Encyclopedia of television. CRC Press. p. 2527. ISBN 1-57958-411-X .
  3. Sajak: "I'll give the wheel a final spin, and ask you to give me a letter. If it's in the puzzle, you have three seconds to solve it. Vowels are worth nothing, consonants worth [dollar amount]."

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