Denied! A mispronounced word cost a Wheel of Fortune contestant a puzzle win, but fans of the show blame host Pat Sajak.
During a recent episode of Wheel of Fortune, Shauna Williams was in a fortunate position when she prepared to solve a puzzle that displayed all the letters.
The winning answer in the “Same Letter” category was “Congenial Company & Clever Conversation,” but Shauna misspoke, and her misarticulation of the first word, congenial, cost her the puzzle win.
After Shauna’s last letter, “G,” appeared on the board, Pat prompted her to “read what’s up there, please.”
Rather than correctly pronouncing the word “congenial,” Shauna uttered, “Con-jun-al,” rendering her solution incorrect.
Veteran host Pat Sajak, with a befuddled expression as he looked to Wheel of Fortune producers, held his cue card in front of him and firmly declared, “No” before the buzzer sounded.
Shauna’s fellow competitor, Steve Sporre, rang in and took the prize with his correct pronunciation of the word “congenial,” despite Shauna’s work to reveal the letters on the board.
Wheel of Fortune viewers react to contestant’s loss due to mispronunciation
Following the episode’s airing, fans of Wheel of Fortune reacted to Shauna’s loss on X (formerly Twitter), where viewers had mixed reactions.
“She said ‘conjunal’ which is not even a word,” penned one at-home viewer. “Congenial also has 4 syllables! She obviously did not know the word!”
Another viewer felt there should be no discussion about Shauna’s answer since she “said it wrong period.”
“Has she never heard of Miss Congeniality?” joked another X user.
Some of Pat’s critics had harsh feedback for the Wheel of Fortune moderator, calling him “cold blooded.”
“Pat sajak hates his contestants,” read another disparaging comment.
Amid some of the blame being thrown Pat Sajak’s way, the longtime Wheel of Fortune host found some support from some viewers who witnessed the episode.
One wrote that they “have to laugh” when Pat is blamed for denying contestants a win.
“You do realize there are judges and producers off camera that make that call and then relay it to Pat through an earpiece,” they wrote, adding, “And she wasn’t even close in her pronunciation.”
Another viewer concurred, writing that contestants are made aware of the rule of proper pronunciation and that it’s Pat’s job to enforce the rules.
“Can’t blame the messenger,” they wrote.
Another Wheel of Fortune viewer was shocked that a contestant could lose for mispronouncing a word, asking, “That can happen!?”
Here’s what Wheel of Fortune had to say about their pronunciation rule
So, what is the rule regarding proper pronunciation when solving a Wheel of Fortune puzzle? Apparently, Pat wasn’t wrong for denying Shauna a win based on the official rules.
A contestant was faced with a similar issue back in 2014, which ended up costing them a $1 million win and a trip to London.
Following the unfortunate incident, a Wheel of Fortune spokesperson explained the rule to TODAY:
“One of the rules of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ is when a contestant tries to solve a puzzle, they must pronounce it using the generally accepted pronunciation,” they explained.