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Pat Sajak Defends ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Contestants Who Repeatedly Flubbed Puzzle Solve

Pat Sajak Defends Wheel Fortune Players Who Repeatedly Flubbed Solve
Pat Sajak. ABC/Eric McCandless

It could happen to anyone? Pat Sajak spoke out after Wheel of Fortune viewers criticized contestants who repeatedly failed to solve a recent puzzle.

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Fans called out players from the Tuesday, March 1, episode of the game show after the trio — Laura Machado, Christopher Coleman and Thomas Lipscomb — guessed a litany of incorrect phrases for a puzzle. The answer turned out to be “another feather in your cap,” but the group struggled with the seemingly simple solve.

Machado, for her part, guessed “another feather in your hat,” “another feather in your lap” and “another feather in your map,” never figuring out the correct answer. Coleman, meanwhile, repeatedly failed to select any letters that were in the puzzle. Lipscomb finally solved it after initially landing on “bankrupt” and “lose a turn” when he spun the wheel.

Fans poked fun at the contestants via Twitter after the episode aired. “God help us all,” Josh Gad wrote, while another social media user called the segment “the dumbest two minutes in Wheel of Fortune history.”

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Amid the backlash, Sajak, 75, came to the players’ 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,” he tweeted on Wednesday, 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 game show host noted that the contestants were “stunned” when “feather in your hat” was incorrect.

“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,’” he continued. “And, of course, when it’s solved, you want to crawl in a hole. I’ve been praised online for ‘keeping it together’ and not making fun of the players. 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.”

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Sajak then slammed viewers who made fun of the players on the internet.

“But mocking them online and calling them names? 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,” he shared. “Good-natured laughter is one thing. 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.”

Sajak acknowledged that he “occasionally” teases participants, but “when things go wrong, I feel for them, and I try to salve the wounds on camera and off.”

He concluded: “So, yeah, it was an oddly entertaining puzzle and it’s OK to laugh at the situation. But have a little heart. After all, you may be there one day. And no one wants to be trending on Twitter.”

Wheel of Fortune airs weeknights. Check local listings.

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