Wheel of Fortune’s Lucky Guess Winner

“You’re a very good puzzle solver, but this looks tough to me.” Last night on Wheel of Fortune, a contestant named Emil had nothing to lose. He took an educated guess. Fortunately, that guess pr...
Wheel of Fortune’s Lucky Guess Winner
Written by Mike Tuttle
• “You’re a very good puzzle solver, but this looks tough to me.”

Last night on Wheel of Fortune, a contestant named Emil had nothing to lose. He took an educated guess. Fortunately, that guess proved to be the right one.

It happened in the Bonus Round after Emil beat two other contestants in the main game.

In the Bonus Round, the winning contestant spins a smaller wheel that includes 24 envelopes which hold various amounts of prize money, from \$30,000 to \$50,00 and includes a vehicle prize and the top prize of \$100,000.

The contestant is given a category and the puzzle is revealed. R, S, T, L, N, E is always revealed for player and he or she chooses three more consonants and vowel. Ten seconds later the puzzle must be solved or the contestant doesn’t win the bonus.

Last night, the puzzle looked something like this:

NE_
_ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _

Emil chose H, M, D, and O but that didn’t help him out one bit.

Now, for anyone who has ever watched even just a few episodes of this game show, which has been running since 1975, it is understood that this type of bonus puzzle is nearly impossible.

But, after only a few seconds, Emil blurted out the answer, shocking both himself and the host, Pat Sajak, who jokingly patted him down to make sure he hadn’t cheated.

“New baby buggy??”

Pat Sajak later tweeted about the amazing win.

However, some fans are saying that Emil’s win wasn’t as miraculous as everyone is making it out to be.

On a blog on The Washington Post, Caitlin Dewey explained that it really just came down to linguistics.

“This task — while requiring a great deal of mental dexterity — isn’t exactly impossible,” she wrote.

What most viewers don’t know is that there is a “Used-Letter Board” that contestants can see which shows them which of the 26 letters have been called. Since the letters Q, J, Z, X, V, K and W all occur in less than 1.5 percent of English words, that narrowed Emil’s choices down a bit.

Savvy play? Yes. But not a miracle.

To quote Chris Jones, who wrote about another contestant’s win in 2010, “Sometimes, people who don’t understand any better confuse the mundane with the divine, mistake hard work for lightning bolts.”

With the \$45,000 bonus, Emil walked away last night with over \$63,000 in cash and prizes.