Pat Sajak has been slammed by a faction of Wheel of Fortune fans, who have accused him of encouraging a young contestant to take a gamble that proved costly.
As the popular quiz show’s Teen Week continued, 10th grader Deepshiv was the first to spin the wheel in his round and quickly saw his fortunes boosted as he landed on a $1,000 wedge.
After selecting the letter T to try and solve the round’s word puzzle, Sajak informed him that there were six in the answer, landing him $6,000 in winnings.
The excited contestant was then informed by host Sajak, 76, that he had also landed on a mystery wedge, though he noted there was no obligation from him to pick it up. Sajak said that he could boost his winnings to $10,000 or lose it all.
“What are you gonna do? Do you want my advice?” Sajak said to the contestant, before raising laughs from the audience as he added: “No, I can’t give it to you.”
Sajak continued: “If it were me I might…,” before trailing off.
“You know what, I’ll take it,” Deepshiv told the host, before Sajak asked him if he was sure.
After being told to “go ahead,” Deepshiv picked up the mystery wedge as Sajak said in anticipation: “I hope it says something good!”
It said nothing good at all. Deepshiv lifted the wedge to reveal the dreaded bankrupt sign—leaving him without the small fortune he had just clocked up.
As the audience gasped, Sajak said he was “sorry,” to which a good-natured Deepshiv responded: “No worries.”
While there appeared to be no issue between the host and the contestant, some Wheel of Fortune contestants took to Twitter to blame Sajak for the loss.
One viewer wrote of Sajak: “He figured the young man would have solved the puzzle so he influenced him to gamble it away!!!!”
“I feel like Pat pressured Deepshiv to take the mystery box,” tweeted another.
“Agree, Pat must have known that outcome was not in favor of the kid, he should have kept is mouth shut,” commented another viewer.
However, other viewers came to Sajak’s defense, with one telling the beloved TV personality’s detractors to “stop” with their speculation.
Referencing the moment when Sajak trailed off with his advice for Deepshiv, another wrote: “I think Pat was trying to tell him that he would pass on the gamble.”
Despite the brief moment of financial ruin on the game show, Deepshiv walked away the victor after correctly solving a bonus puzzle in just a few seconds.
The audience loudly applauded as Deepshiv earned himself the $45,000 prize, boosting his overall winnings to a grand total of $65,360. He was joined on the stage by his mother and sister as he celebrated his sizable win.
In March 2022, Sajak defended show contestants who were mocked on social media for struggling to solve a puzzle. After an initial guess of “another feather in your hat” turned out to be wrong, attempts including “another feather in your lap” and “another feather in your map” were put forth before the correct answer of “another feather in your cap” was given.
He wrote on Twitter: “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.
“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 first attempted solve was ‘Feather in your hat’ which, by the way, is how a lot of people say it. So all three players thought it was a good solve, and were stunned when I said it was wrong.”
Urging those commenting on the viral moment to “have a little heart,” Sajak said that finding humor in the moment is different to relentlessly mocking the players.
“Good-natured laughter is one thing,” he wrote in his lengthy Twitter thread. “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.
“I have fun with players and I tease them occasionally, but when things go wrong, I feel for them, and I try to salve the wounds on camera and off. So, yeah, it was an oddly entertaining puzzle and it’s okay 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.”