If anything, your greatest competition is the producers of the show, who are working hard to make sure you won’t bring down the house during the bonus round. The board automatically reveals letters one by one until a player rings in with the correct solution.
Stay in Control of the Wheel In the main game, contestants have three options: spin the wheel and call a consonant, buy a vowel for $250, or solve the puzzle. Each consonant is worth the cash value of the wedge the wheel lands on.
Then spin and guess the R. Continue down the list until you are confident about a missing letter (selecting known and moneymaking consonants before known and costly vowels) or have enough money to solve. Note that the top eight in order conveniently spell out EAT IRONS.
Lastly, “Song & Artist” and “Title & Author” has BY in it, as in “THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY.” This gives you two consonants to grab before dipping into the vowels. If a contestant lands on the Million Dollar Wedge, and then successfully calls a consonant, solves the puzzle for the round, never spins Bankrupt for the rest of the game, has the most money at the end of the game, lands on the million dollar envelope on the bonus wheel, and solves the bonus round puzzle, he wins a million dollars.
While the Million Dollar wedge makes for exciting television, it is not exceptionally valuable. The number of hurdles that a player has to jump through to actually win the million dollars plus the fact that it is an annuity drops the wedge’s expected value to $5,000 or so, though it becomes more valuable later in the game since you will have fewer spins remaining to hit a Bankrupt.
Imagine you had $2,000, hit the Mystery wedge, and called a letter that appeared three times in the puzzle. New to the current season, the Express allows contestants to call consonants (worth $1,000 each) and buy vowels without having to spin the wheel.
You might wind up Bankrupt, but it is unlikely you will solve the puzzle if you forfeit control over the round anyway. Also, don’t solve the puzzle if you haven’t called all the consonants in it: Otherwise, you’ll be leaving free money on the table.
For some unfathomable reason, three contestants have abruptly stopped to solve prematurely. The Free Play wedge allows a player to choose any letter without losing his turn if that letter is not in the puzzle; vowels are free and consonants reward the player with $500 apiece.
You will maintain your turn even if you are wrong, and the more common letters will still be around when you must take a risk. The Wild Card allows players to replicate the value of their previous spin or spend it during the bonus round to call an extra consonant.
Wild cardholders win the bonus round 7.35% more frequently than non-holders. With the bonus round paying out roughly $37,000 on average, the Wild Card’s added value is about $2,700.
Thus, even the overall leader should often use the Wild Card to match a big value spin like $5,000 rather than save it for the bonus round. Perhaps they are worried that spinning again could result in Bankrupt or Lose a Turn, depriving them of guaranteed money.
Indeed, Wheel of Fortune “’s house minimum ensures you will receive $1,000 even if you solve without any money. So a person who solves a puzzle for $1,000 and does not accumulate any other money on the show wins the same amount as people who hit Bankrupt every time they spin the wheel.
Many games are won by the player who solved Round 3’s prize puzzle simply because the prize adds an extra $7,000 or more to the player’s overall score, which smokes opponents who are consistently solving for the $1,000 pittance. An overly conservative player thus has no chance of winning unless they happen to solve the prize puzzle.
The difference between main game and bonus round puzzles is staggering. Second, the producers know historically which letters players tend to select more often.
Presented by Host : Hostess : Narrated theme music composer Alan Thick Mere Griffin Steve Kaplan Frankie Blue John Hoke Country of originated StatesOriginal language(s)English No.
Of episodes over 7,000 (as of May 31, 2019 ) ProductionExecutive producer(s)Producer(s) John Rhine hart Nancy Jones Harry Friedman Karen Griffith Steve Schwartz 22 minutesProduction company(s)Distributor CBS Television Distribution ReleaseOriginal networkPicture format 480i (HDTV) (1975–2006) 1080i (HDTV ; downscale to 720p locally in some markets) (2006–present)Audio formatStereoOriginal release January 6, 1975 (1975-01-06) –presentChronologyRelated shows Wheel 2000 External links Website Wheel of Fortune (often known simply as Wheel ) is an American television game show created by Mere Griffin that debuted in 1975.
The show features a competition in which contestants solve word puzzles, similar to those used in Hangman, to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a giant carnival wheel. The current version of the series, which airs in nightly syndication, premiered on September 19, 1983.
It stars Pat Speak and Anna White as host and co-host. The network version was originally hosted by Chuck Foolery and Susan Stafford.
Speak left the network version in January 1989 to host his own late-night talk show, while remaining as host of the nighttime Wheel. Speak was replaced in daytime by Rolf Benirschke, who was in turn replaced by Bob Gone when the network show moved to CBS; Gone remained as host for the second NBC run.
Stafford left in 1982, and was replaced by White, who remained on the network show for the rest of its run. Charlie O'Donnell served as the show's announcer from its debut until 1980, and again from 1989 until his death in 2010.
Jack Clark announced from 1980 to his death in 1988, with M. G. Kelly succeeding him until O'Donnell's return. Wheel of Fortune ranks as the longest-running syndicated game show in the United States, with 7,000 episodes taped and aired as of May 10, 2019.
TV Guide named it the “top-rated syndicated series” in a 2008 article, and in 2013, the magazine ranked it at No. The program has also come to gain a worldwide following with sixty international adaptations.
The syndicated series' 38th season premiered on September 14, 2021, and Speak became the longest-running host of any game show, surpassing Bob Barker, who hosted The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007. The template for the first round. The core game is based on Hangman.
The wheel also features two Bankrupt wedges and one Lose a Turn, both of which forfeit the contestant's turn, with the former also eliminating any cash or prizes the contestant has accumulated within the round. Each game features three contestants, or occasionally, three two-contestant teams positioned behind a single scoreboard with its own flipper.
The left scoreboard from the viewer's perspective is colored red, the center yellow, and the right blue, with the contestants positions determined by a random selection prior to taping. A contestant spins the wheel to determine a dollar value and guess a consonant.
It also allows the contestant to spin again, buy a vowel for a flat rate of $250, or attempt to solve the puzzle. Control passes to the next contestant clockwise if the wheel lands on Lose a Turn or Bankrupt, if the contestant calls a letter that is not in the puzzle, calls a letter that has already been called in that round, fails to call a letter within five seconds of the wheel stopping, or attempts unsuccessfully to solve the puzzle.
The only exception is the Free Play wedge, on which the contestant may call a consonant for $500 per occurrence, call a free vowel, or attempt to solve the puzzle, with no penalty for a move that would normally result in a lost turn. In the first three rounds, the wheel contains a Wild Card and a Gift Tag.
The Wild Card may be used to call an additional consonant after any turn (for the amount that the contestant has just spun) or taken to the bonus round to call an extra consonant there. The Gift Tag offers either a $1,000 credit toward purchases from, or $1,000 in cash courtesy of the sponsoring company.
A special wedge in the first two rounds awards a prize. All the tags and the prize wedge are located over the $500 wedges, so calling a letter that appears in the puzzle when landed upon awards both the tag/wedge and $500 per every occurrence of that letter in the puzzle.
A contestant must solve the puzzle in order to keep any cash, prizes, or extras accumulated during that round except for the Wild Card, which is kept until the contestant either loses it to Bankrupt or uses it. Bankrupt does not affect score from previous rounds, but it does take away the Wild Card and/or a million dollar wedge if either was claimed in a previous round.
Contestants who solve a round for less than $1,000 in cash and prizes ($2,000 on weeks with two-contestant teams) have their scores increased to that amount. The third through fifth, collectively the “Triple Toss-Up”, take place prior to the fourth round.
In the Triple Toss-Up round, three consecutive Toss-Up puzzles are played, each having the same category and a common theme. In addition to the toss-ups, each game has a minimum of four rounds, with more played if time permits.
Calling a correct letter after landing upon one offers the contestant the chance to accept its face value of $1,000 per letter, or forfeit that amount to flip over the wedge and see whether its reverse side contains a $10,000 cash prize or Bankrupt. Starting with season 31 in 2013, an “Express” wedge is also placed on the wheel in round 3.
The contestant can then either “pass” and continue the round normally, or “play” and keep calling consonants for $1,000 each (without spinning) and buying vowels for $250. The Express play ends when the contestant either calls an incorrect letter (which has the same effect as landing on a Bankrupt wedge) or solves the puzzle.
The final round is always played at least in part in a “speed-up” format, in which the host spins the wheel ; each consonant in that round is worth the value at the red contestant's arrow plus $1,000. Vowels do not add or deduct money from the contestants scores in the speed-up round.
Play proceeds clockwise, starting with the contestant who was in control at the time of the final spin, until the puzzle is solved. The three-second timer does not begin until the hostess has revealed all instances of a called letter and moved aside from the puzzle board, and the contestant may offer multiple guesses on his/her turn.
Contestants who did not solve any puzzles are awarded a consolation prize of $1,000 (or $2,000 on weeks with two-contestant teams). The contestant who solves the toss-up puzzle wins $1,000, and advances to the bonus round.
Since season 35, the winning contestant chooses one of three puzzle categories before the round begins (prior to season 35, the category and puzzle were predetermined). After doing so, the contestant spins a smaller wheel with 24 envelopes to determine the prize.
The puzzle is revealed, as is every instance of the letters R, S, T, L, N, and E. The contestant provides three more consonants and one more vowel. A contestant holding the Wild Card may then choose a fourth consonant.
After any instances of those letters are revealed, the contestant has 10 seconds to solve the puzzle. Whether the contestant solves the puzzle, the host opens the envelope at the end of the round to reveal the prize at stake.
Prizes in the bonus round include various cash amounts (with the lowest being the season number multiplied by $1,000), a vehicle (or two vehicles during weeks with two-contestant teams), and a top prize of $100,000. The $1,000,000 prize has been awarded three times: to Michelle Loewenstein (October 14, 2008), Autumn Erhard (May 30, 2013), and Sarah Manchester (September 17, 2014).
Contestants who win the $1,000,000 may receive it in installments over 20 years, or in a lump sum of that amount's present value. If the contestant did not land on the $1,000,000, the host reveals the location of the envelope on the prize wheel after the bonus round.
At any time during a shopping round, most often if the contestant did not have enough left to buy another prize, a contestant could choose to put his or her winnings either on a gift certificate or “on account” for use in a later shopping round. However, a contestant lost any money on account by landing on Bankrupt or failing to claim it by not winning subsequent rounds.
The shopping element was eliminated from the syndicated version on the episode that aired October 5, 1987, both to speed up gameplay and to alleviate the taxes paid by contestants. However, the network version continued to use the shopping element until the end of its first NBC run on June 30, 1989.
If a tie for first place occurred on the daytime version, all three players returned to continue the game on the next episode, and it counted as a single appearance. The wheel formerly featured a Free Spin wedge, which automatically awarded a token that the contestant could turn in after a lost turn to keep control of the wheel.
It was replaced in 1989 with a single Free Spin token placed over a selected cash wedge. Between September 16, 1996 and the end of season 30 in 2013, the show featured a progressive Jackpot wedge, which had been in several rounds in its history.
The jackpot started at $5,000 and had the value of every spin within the round added to it. To claim the jackpot, a contestant had to land on the wedge, call a correct letter, and solve the puzzle all in the same turn.
In later years, it also offered $500 per correct letter and $500 to the jackpot, regardless of whether it was won in that turn. The network version allowed champions to appear for up to five days originally, which was later reduced to three.
The syndicated version, which originally retired contestants after one episode, adopted the three-day champion rule at the start of the seventh season in 1989. In 1996, this was changed to have the top three winners from the week's first four shows returned to compete in the “Friday Finals”.
When the jackpot wedge was introduced, it began at $10,000 instead of $5,000 on Fridays. The rules allowing returning champions were eliminated permanently beginning with the syndicated episode aired September 21, 1998, and contestants appear only on a single episode, reverting to the pre-1989 rules.
Before December 1981, the show did not feature a permanent bonus round. In 1978, some episodes featured a round known as the “Star Bonus”, where a star-shaped token was placed on the wheel.
Contestants who picked up the token played an additional round at the end of the game to win one of four prizes, whose value determined the difficulty of the puzzle. The contestant provided four consonants and a vowel, and was given 15 seconds to attempt solving.
In one week of episodes airing in March 1980, contestants who won the main game were given 30 seconds to attempt solving a puzzle for a chance to win a luxury automobile, in a week called “Super Wheel Bonus Week”. When the current bonus round was introduced in 1981, no letters were provided automatically.
The contestant asked for five consonants and a vowel, and then had fifteen seconds to attempt solving the puzzle. Also, bonus prizes were selected by the contestant at the start of the round.
The current time limit and rules for letter selection were introduced on October 3, 1988. Starting on September 4, 1989, the first episode of the seventh syndicated season, bonus prizes were selected by the contestant choosing from one of five envelopes labeled W, H, E, E, and L. One prize was always $25,000 in cash, and the rest were changed weekly.
Any prize that was won was taken out of rotation for the rest of the week. During seasons 16 through 18 (1998–2001), the $25,000 remained in-place the entire week of shows regardless if it was won.
These envelopes were replaced with the bonus wheel on October 22, 2001. Mere Griffin conceived Wheel of Fortune using inspiration from Hangman after recalling long car trips as a child, on which he and his sister played Hangman.
He and ME's then-president Murray Schwartz consulted an executive of Caesars Palace to find out how to build such a wheel. When Griffin pitched the idea for the show to Lin Bowen, then the head of NBC's daytime programming division, she approved, but wanted the show to have more glamour to attract the female audience.
She suggested that Griffin incorporate a shopping element into the gameplay, and so, in 1973, he created a pilot episode titled Shopper's Bazaar, with Chuck Foolery as host and Mike Lawrence as announcer. The pilot started with the three contestants being introduced individually, with Lawrence describing the prizes that they chose to play for.
Unlike the show it evolved into, Shopper's Bazaar had a vertically mounted wheel, which was spun automatically rather than by the contestants. This wheel lacked the Bankrupt wedge and featured a wedge where a contestant could call a vowel for free, as well as a “Your Own Clue” wedge that allowed contestants to pick up a rotary telephone and hear a private clue about the puzzle.
At the end of the game, the highest-scoring contestant played a bonus round called the “Shopper's Special” where all the vowels in the puzzle were already there, and the contestant had 30 seconds to call out consonants in the puzzle. EDD Byrnes, an actor from 77 Sunset Strip, served as host for the second and third pilots, both titled Wheel of Fortune.
These pilots were directed by Marty Panetta, who gave the show a “Vegas” feel that more closely resembled the look and feel that the actual show ended up having, a wheel that was now spun by the contestants themselves, and a lighted mechanical puzzle board with letters that were now manually turntable. Showcase prizes on these pilots were located behind the puzzle board, and during shopping segments a list of prizes and their price values scrolled on the right of the screen.
By the time production began in December 1974, Foolery was selected to host, the choice being made by Griffin after he reportedly heard Byrnes reciting “A-E-I-O-U” to himself in an effort to remember the vowels. Susan Stafford turned the letters on Byrnes' pilot episodes, a role that she also held when the show was picked up as a series.
Foolery's departure came over a salary dispute with show creator Mere Griffin, and his contract was not renewed. On December 28, 1981, Pat Speak made his debut as the host of Wheel.
Griffin said that he chose Speak for his “odd” sense of humor. NBC's president and CEO Fred Silverman objected as he felt Speak, who at the time of his hiring was the weatherman for KABC-TV, was “too local” for a national audience.
Rolf Benirschke, a former placekicker in the National Football League, was chosen as his replacement and hosted for a little more than five months. Benirschke's term as host came to an end due to NBC's cancellation of the daytime Wheel after fourteen years, with its final episode airing on June 30, 1989.
When the newly formatted daytime series returned on CBS on July 17, 1989, Bob Gone became its host. The daytime program continued for a year and a half on CBS, then returned to NBC on January 14, 1991, and continued until September 20, 1991, when it was cancelled for a second and final time.
Pat Speak and Anna White have hosted the syndicated version since 1983. Susan Stafford was the original hostess, serving in that role from the premiere until October 1982.
Stafford was absent for two extended periods, once in 1977 after fracturing two vertebrae in her back and once in 1979 after an automobile accident. During these two extended absences, former Miss USA Summer Bartholomew was Stafford's most frequent substitute, with model Cynthia Washington and comedian ARTE Johnson also filling in for Stafford.
After Stafford left to become a humanitarian worker, over two hundred applicants signed up for a nationwide search to be her replacement. Griffin eventually narrowed the list to three finalists, which consisted of Summer Bartholomew, former Playboy centerfold Vicki McCarty, and Anna White.
Griffin gave each of the three women an opportunity to win the job by putting them in a rotation for several weeks after Stafford's departure. In December 1982, Griffin named White as Stafford's successor, saying that he felt she was capable of activating the puzzle board letters (which is the primary role of the Wheel hostess) better than anyone else who had auditioned.
White became highly popular among the young female demographic, and also gained a fan base of adults interested in her daily wardrobe, in a phenomenon that has been referred to as “Annamaria”. White also hosted the daytime version until its cancellation in 1991, except for one week in June 1986 when Stafford returned so that White could recover after her fiancé, John Gibson, died in a plane crash.
Speak and White have starred on the syndicated version continuously as host and hostess, respectively, since it began, except for very limited occasions. During two weeks in January 1991, Tricia Gist, the girlfriend and future wife of Griffin's son Tony, filled in for White when she and her new husband, restaurateur George San Pietro, were honeymooning.
Gist returned for the week of episodes airing March 11 through 15, 1991, because White had a cold at the time of taping. On an episode in November 1996, when Speak proved unable to host the bonus round segment because of laryngitis, he and White traded places for that segment.
On the March 4, 1997, episode, Rosie O'Donnell co-hosted the third round with White after O'Donnell's name was used in a puzzle. On April 1, 1997, Speak and Alex Greek traded jobs for the day.
Speak hosted that day's edition of Jeopardy! Greek presided over a special two-contestant Wheel celebrity match between Speak and White, who were playing for the Boy Scouts of America and the American Cancer Society, respectively.
Lesley Speak, Pat's wife, was the guest hostess for the day. In January and February 2011, the show held a “Anna for a Day” contest in which home viewers submitted video auditions to take White's place for one episode, with the winner determined by a poll on the show's website.
The winner of this contest, Katie Cantrell of Wooster, Ohio (a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design), took White's place for the second and third rounds on the episode that aired March 24, 2011. In November 2019, three weeks of episodes were taped with White hosting in Speak's place while he recovered from intestinal surgery.
During her time as hostess, several guests appeared at the puzzle board, including costumed performers of Mickey and Minnie Mouse (during the Secret Santa shows), and Maggie Speak (Speak's daughter). Charlie O'Donnell was the program's first and longest tenured announcer.
In 1980, NBC was discussing cancelling Wheel and O'Donnell agreed to take the position as announcer on The Toni Tennille Show. Los Angeles radio personality M. G. Kelly was Clark's replacement, starting on the daytime series in August 1988 and on the syndicated series when its new season launched a month later.
Kelly held these positions until O'Donnell was able to return to the announcer position, doing so after his duties with Harris Industries came to an end at the end of the 1988–89 television season. O'Donnell remained with the series until shortly before his death in November 2010.
After O'Donnell's death, the producers sought a permanent replacement, and a series of substitutes filled out the rest of the season, including Gilbert, John Crater, Joe Cyprian, Rich Fields, Lora Cain, and Jim Thornton. Wheel of Fortune typically employs a total of 100 in-house production personnel, with 60 to 100 local staff joining them for those episodes that are taped on location.
Griffin was the executive producer of the network version throughout its entire run, and served as the syndicated version's executive producer until his retirement in 2000. Since 1999, the title of executive producer has been held by Harry Friedman, who had shared his title with Griffin for his first year, and had earlier served as a producer starting in 1995.
John Rhine hart was the program's first producer, but departed in August 1976 to become NBC's West Coast Daytime Program Development Director. Afterwards, his co-producer, Nancy Jones, was promoted to sole producer, and served as such until 1995, when Friedman succeeded her.
In the 15th syndicated season in 1997, Karen Griffith and Steve Schwartz joined Friedman as producers. They were later promoted to supervising producers, with Amanda Stern occupying Griffith's and Schwartz's former position.
Mark Cor win, who had served as associate director under Carson, took over for him upon his retirement at the end of the 1998–99 season, and served as such until he himself died in July 2013 (although episodes already taped before his death continued airing until late 2013). Tennis returned as guest director for the weeks airing October 13 through 17 and November 17 through 21, 2014, as Cisneros was recovering from neck surgery at the time of taping.
With the start of the 33rd season on September 14, 2015, Tennis was promoted to full-time director. Upon NBC's 1989 cancellation of the network series, production moved to Studio 33 at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, where it remained until 1995.
Since then, the show has occupied Stage 11 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City. Some episodes are also recorded on location, a tradition which began with two weeks of episodes taped at Radio City Music Hall in late 1988.
The current design of the Wheel of Fortune set, as seen on a Season 30 episode show's current puzzle board, as seen on a Season 30 episode on September 28, 2012, in the Jackpot Round. Various changes have been made to the basic set since the syndicated version's premiere in 1983. In 1996, a large video display was added center stage, which was then upgraded in 2003 as the show began the transition into high-definition broadcasting.
In the mid-1990s, the show began a long-standing tradition of nearly every week coming with its own unique theme. As a result, in addition to its generic design, the set also uses many alternate designs, which are unique to specific weekly sets of themed programs.
Previous set designers included Ed Flesh and Dick Stiles. Shopper's Bazaar used a vertically mounted wheel which was often difficult to see on-screen.
Ed Flesh, who also designed the sets for The $25,000 Pyramid and Jeopardy! The first incarnation of the wheel was mostly made of paint and cardboard, and has since seen multiple design changes.
Until the mid-1990s, the wheel spun automatically during the opening and closing of the show. The current incarnation, in use since 2003, is framed on a steel tube surrounded by Plexiglas panels and contains more than 200 lighting instruments.
It is held by a stainless steel shaft with roller bearings. Altogether, the wheel weighs approximately 2,400 pounds (1,100 kg).
The wheel, including its light extensions, is 16.5 ft (5.0 m) in diameter. The show's original puzzle board had three rows of 13 manually operated trilogy, for a total of 39 spaces.
This board was surrounded by a double-arched border of lights which flashed at the beginning and end of the round. On February 24, 1997, the show introduced a computerized puzzle board composed of 52 touch-activated monitors in four rows (12 on the top and bottom rows, 14 in the middle two).
To illuminate a letter during regular gameplay, the hostess touches the right edge of the monitor to reveal it. The computerized board obviated the stop-downs, allowing taping to finish quicker at a lower cost to the production company.
Although not typically seen by viewers, the set also includes a used letter board that shows contestants which letters are remaining in play, a scoreboard that is visible from the contestants perspective, and a countdown clock. In March 2020, Sony suspended production of the show due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August 2020, taping resumed with new safety measures. New episodes tape without studio audiences; only essential staff and crew are allowed on stage.
Personal protective equipment is also provided to everyone behind the scenes for their safety. Additionally, social distancing measures are enforced both on the set and off-stage, and Speak's and the players' podiums have thus been widened to allow for greater distance during gameplay.
During the bonus round, Speak picks up the prize envelope instead of the contestant and remains at the bonus wheel for the duration of the round. These new episodes began airing September 14, 2021 when the show's 38th nighttime season premiered.
Many season 37 episodes were taped before the pandemic began and before public health authorities had started enforcing current safety regulations. Because these episodes do not employ cautionary measures and were only aired in the middle of the crisis, they were broadcast with a message at the beginning stating that they had been taped before the pandemic started (as not to mislead audiences into thinking incorrectly that the producers were ignoring public health advice).
Alan Thick composed the show's original theme, which was titled “Big Wheels”. In 1983, it was replaced by Griffin's own composition, “Changing Keys”, to allow him to derive royalties from that composition's use on both the network and syndicated versions.
Steve Kaplan became music director starting with the premiere of the 15th syndicated season in 1997, and continued to serve as such until he was killed when the Cessna 421C Golden Eagle he was piloting crashed into a home in Claremont, California, in December 2003. His initial theme was a remix of “Changing Keys”, but by the 18th syndicated season (2000–01), he had replaced it with a composition of his own, which was titled “Happy Wheels”.
Since 2006, music direction has been handled by Frankie Blue and John Hoke. Themes they have written for the show include a remix of “Happy Wheels” and an original rock-based composition.
Which aired in 1978 and 1979), “A Time for Tony” (whose basic melody evolved into “Think! ), “Buzzword” (later used as the theme for Mere Griffin's Crosswords), “Night walk”, “Strutting' on Sunset”, and an untitled vacation cue.
, their sister radio stations, and those advertising agencies that are affiliated with them. Also, ineligible to apply as contestants are individuals who have appeared on a different game show within the previous year, three other game shows within the past ten years, or on any version of Wheel of Fortune itself.
Throughout the year, the show uses a custom-designed Winnebago recreational vehicle called the “Wheel mobile” to travel across the United States, holding open auditions at various public venues. Participants are provided with entry forms which are then drawn randomly.
Individuals whose names are drawn to appear on stage, five at a time, and are interviewed by traveling host Marty Lublin. The group of five then plays a mock version of the speed-up round, and five more names are selected after a puzzle is solved.
Everyone who is called onstage receives a themed prize, usually determined by the spin of a miniature wheel. Contestants not appearing on stage at Wheel mobile events have their applications retained and get drawn at random to fill second-level audition vacancies.
At the second audition, potential contestants play more mock games featuring a miniature wheel and puzzle board, followed by a 16-puzzle test with some letters revealed. The contestants have five minutes to solve as many puzzles as they can by writing in the correct letters.
The people who pass continue the audition, playing more mock games which are followed by interviews. Wheel of Fortune premiered on January 6, 1975, at 10:30 am (9:30 Central) on NBC.
Lin Bowen, then the head of daytime programming, purchased the show from Griffin to compensate him for canceling the original Jeopardy! Aired its final episode on the Friday before Wheel's premiere.
The original Wheel aired on NBC, in varying time slots between 10:30 am and noon, until June 30, 1989. Throughout that version's run, episodes were generally 30 minutes in length, except for six weeks of shows aired between December 1975 and January 1976 which were 60 minutes in length.
NBC announced the cancellation of the show in August 1980, but it stayed on the air following a decision to cut the duration of The David Letterman Show from 90 to 60 minutes. The network Wheel moved to CBS on July 17, 1989, and remained there until January 14, 1991.
After that, it briefly returned to NBC, replacing Let's Make a Deal, but was canceled permanently on September 20 of that year. The daily syndicated version of Wheel premiered on September 19, 1983.
From its debut, the syndicated version offered a larger prize budget than its network counterpart. The show came from humble beginnings: King World chairmen Roger, Michael, and Robert King could initially find only 50 stations that were willing to carry the show, and since they could not find affiliates for the syndicated Wheel in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, Philadelphia was the largest market in which the show could succeed in its early days.
Siphoned ratings from the period's three longest-running and most popular game shows, Tic-Tac-Dough, The Joker's Wild, and Family Feud, to the point that all three series came to an end by the fall of 1986. At this point, Wheel had the highest ratings of any syndicated television series in history, and at the peak of the show's popularity, over 40 million people were watching five nights per week.
, remained the most-watched syndicated program in the United States until dethroned by Judge Judy in 2011. The popularity of Wheel of Fortune has led it to become a worldwide franchise, with over forty known adaptations in international markets outside the United States.
Versions of the show have existed in such countries as Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, , Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. The American version of Wheel has honored its international variants with an occasional theme of special weeks known as Wheel Around the World”, the inaugural episode of which aired when the 23rd syndicated season premiered on September 12, 2005.
Between September 1997 and January 1998, CBS and Game Show Network concurrently aired a special children's version of the show titled Wheel 2000. It was hosted by David Simon, with Tania Ray providing voice and motion capture for a virtual reality hostess named “Cyber Lucy”.
Created by Scott Sternberg, the spin-off featured special gameplay in which numerous rules were changed. For example, the show's child contestants competed for points and prizes instead of cash, with the eventual winner playing for a grand prize in the bonus round.
In November 2020, ABC ordered a prime time spin-off show, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, with Richards as executive producer and Speak and White as hosts, and which is set to premiere on January 7, 2021. Wheel was the subject of many nominations in GUN's Game Show Awards special, which aired on June 6, 2009.
, the announcer's catchphrase welcoming new contestants to Price. The sound effect heard at the start of a new regular gameplay round won the award for Favorite Game Show Sound Effect.
A hall of fame honoring Wheel of Fortune is part of the Sony Pictures Studios tour, and was introduced on the episode aired May 10, 2010. Located in the same stage as the show's taping facility, this hall of fame features memorabilia related to Wheel's syndicated history, including retired props, classic merchandise, photographs, videos, and a special case dedicated to White's wardrobe.
Two years later, in 2012, the show was honored with a Ride of Fame on a double-decker tour bus in New York City. Numerous board games based on Wheel of Fortune have been released by different toy companies.
The games are all similar, incorporating a wheel, puzzle display board, play money and various accessories like Free Spin tokens. Milton Bradley released the first board game in 1975.
Two editions were released, with the only differences being the box art and the included books of puzzles. Other home versions were released by Pressman Toy Corporation, Tycho / Mattel, Parker Brothers, Endless Games, and Irwin Toys.
Wheel has also been licensed to International Game Technology for use in its slot machines. The games are all loosely based on the show, with contestants given the chance to spin the wheel to win a jackpot prize.
Since 1996, over 200 slot games based on the show have been created, both for real-world casinos and those on the Internet. With over 1,000 wins awarded in excess of $1,000,000 and over $3 billion in jackpots delivered, Wheel has been regarded as the most successful slots brand of all time.
^ If a contestant cannot spin the wheel due to a physical limitation or disability, they are accompanied by a “designated spinner,” a friend or family member who spins for them but is otherwise not involved in the game. ^ a b Wheel of Fortune : Pat Speak and Anna White on retirement, gaffes, their 7,000th show”.
'It’s our 7,000th show,' Speak says to applause at the start of Friday's milestone episode. ^ a b c “Harry Friedman Named Producer of Wheel of Fortune “ (Press release).
^ Wheel of Fortune Ups Bonus Round Jackpot to $1M”. Wheel of Fortune on YouTube ^ Griffin & Bender 2007, p. 100 ^ Ali, Rash (June 7, 2016).
“Watch Wheel of Fortune Unveil a New Puzzle Format”. ^ “COMING THIS FALL ON WHEEL OF FORTUNE ONE SPIN ONE SOLVE ONE MILLION DOLLARS”.
^ “Watch Now: Wheel's 1st Million Dollar Winner”. ^ “California woman becomes 2nd million dollar winner on Wheel of Fortune ".
^ Sam's & Shook 1987, p. 41 ^ Basis, Ben (September 26, 1987). ^ Sam's & Shook 1987, p. 33 ^ “OF 1986 Mike Jill Dawn”.
^ “Anna White takes time off from Wheel of Fortune “. ^ “Speak Reveals Reason for 1-Day Job Switch With Anna White”.
“Trial High School grad voted Anna for a Day”. “Anna White hosts Wheel of Fortune as Pat Speak undergoes emergency surgery”.
“Anna White Takes a Spin as Wheel of Fortune Host After 37 Years”. ^ “Maggie Speak Introduced as the Special Guest Letter-Turner for Weekend Getaways”.
“Pat Speak's daughter turns letters on Wheel of Fortune as Anna White takes over hosting duties”. ' Wheel of Fortune ': Pat Speak's daughter fills in for dad”.
' Wheel of Fortune announcer Charlie O'Donnell dies at 78". ^ “Veteran Announcer Jim Thornton is the New Voice of Wheel of Fortune “.
^ a b End credits lists from appropriate Wheel of Fortune episodes. “Harry Friedman, EP of Wheel of Fortune and 'Jeopardy!,' to Step Down in 2020”.
Viewers who pay careful attention to the closing credits on Wheel of Fortune will see the game show is produced by Calif on Productions, a subtle nod from Mere Griffin, the program's creator, to the Hunter don County community where he once owned a farm. ^ “Inside Wheel of Fortune ': Why Pat and Anna Have a 'WINNER “.
^ Wheel of Fortune ', America's Favorite Game Show, Spins Into Its 20th Season”. “Ed Flesh, Designed the Wheel of Fortune, Dies at 79”.
^ Spin the Wheel EP Says 'Knowledge, Strategy & Luck' Could Win Players $23M”. ^ “Featured Contestant: Dana C.” Wheel of Fortune.
“Watch the most amazing solve in Wheel of Fortune history”. Head Back To The Studio With Redesigned Wheel & Podium”.
^ Griffin & Bender 2007, p. 106 ^ “Syndication Ratings: 'Judge Judy' Is Queen of Syn die Season”. Relates hundred: 1901–2001, billed er Frey danseuses overdraw.
“ABC Spins 'Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune ', Orders Prime time Series Hosted By Pat Speak & Anna White”. “ABC Sets Premiere Dates For 'The Bachelor', 'American Idol', 'To Tell The Truth' & New Game Shows”.
^ “U.S. television ratings: top 10 syndicated programs in season 2009/10: Statistic”. ^ “2010–11 Report: 'Two and a Half Men' Still Strong; Network Ratings Still Sliding”.
^ Wheel Of Fortune Honored By Gray Line New York's Ride Of Fame Getty Images. Schwartz, David; Ryan, Steve & Westbrook, Fred (1999).
Book: The Answers, the Questions, the Facts, and the Stories of the Greatest Game Show in History. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wheel of Fortune (U.S. game show).