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‘Wheel of Fortune’ Fans Are Outraged After Contestant Loses $100,000 Prize: ‘Totally Ripped Her Off’

Vanna White and Pat Sajak on "Celebrity Wheel of Fortune"
Vanna White and Pat Sajak.ABC/Christopher Willard

A close guess. Wheel of Fortune fans were confused when Alexa Hoekstra lost $100,000 on the Thursday, April 6 episode.

Wheel of Fortune

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The Texas Woman’s University won the episode and headed to the bonus round where she chose the “What Are You Doing?” category. After guessing her letters, she was left with “__ST _IN_ING IT” on the board. She had 10 seconds to guess the answer, and fans believed she said, “Just Winging It,” which turned out to be the correct answer. However, host Pat Sajak believed Hoekstra said “Just Winning It.”

After Sajak said she didn’t win, the contestant lamented, “So close.”

The college student didn’t walk away empty-handed. She won $19,950 during the game.

While Hoekstra was a good sport about the loss, Wheel of Fortune fans were outraged. “Ok so I re-watched Alexa’s bonus round and from what I heard, she clearly said the answer on the first try. The show clearly owes her the $100k now #WheelOfFortune,” one outraged viewer shared via Twitter.

“Bro the girl LITERALLY SAID ‘JUST WINGING IT’ IMMEDIATELY!!!! @WheelofFortune You totally ripped her off of $100k,” one person tweeted. Another added, “Alexa on Wheel of Fortune just said “just winging it” on the final puzzle and they didn’t accept it despite it being the correct answer. Didn’t win the $100k. Actually robbed.”

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Some even blamed Sajack, 76, for the loss. “She said both. Just winging it and then Just winning it. I’m done with this show. Retire Pat. It’s time,” one angry audience member shared.

For her part, Hoekstra hasn’t publicly commented on the matter. After the show, she simply shared a photo noting her pride. “Back in January, I had the opportunity to compete on Wheel of Fortune, representing Texas Woman’s University. Last night was my air date! It was an amazing experience and I am so proud to represent my university!” she shared via LinkedIn on Friday, April 7.

Sajak, who has hosted the ABC game show since 1981, recently went viral for jokingly tackling a winner.

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Fred Jackson explained in the broadcast that he works as a professional wrestler (in addition to other gigs, including drama teacher and bar trivia host). After winning $75,800, Sajak asked the other contestants whether they wanted him “to body-slam [Fred] for you” because of his wrestling background.

The Illinois native then jokingly attempted to put the Wheel of Fortune champion in a headlock. Fred, for his part, didn’t mind the rough housing.

“As the guy that he was putting in that hold, I loved that moment. L-O-V-E in capital letters,” Jackson told TMZ amid the backlash. “That was one of the biggest highlights of the show. From my perspective to see the criticism he’s getting online is a little unfair. I was the one who was put in the hold and I was perfectly OK with it. In fact, I loved it. I don’t think [fans] should get any more upset than I’m getting.”

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