The History of The Wheel of Fortune

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The Wheel of Fortune is an American TV game show created by Mery Griffin. Often referred to as Wheel, the show features a competition in which players solve word puzzles to win cash and prizes determined by a large spinning wheel.

The History of the Show

Wheel of Fortune first aired in January 1975 as a daytime series on NBC. The show continued to run on the channel until 1989 and was later taken over by CBS. After making some changes to the format, Wheel was aired on CBS from 1989 to 1991. In January 1991, the program returned to NBC; however, it was cancelled just a few months later. As the daytime series was so popular, a nightly syndicated edition was developed, which premiered on September 19, 1983, and is still aired today.

The daytime version was originally hosted by Susan Stafford and Chuck Woolery, with Charlie O’Donnell as the announcer. In 1980, O’Donnell was replaced by Jack Clark. Sadly, Clark passed away in 1988 and the part was briefly taken over by M. G. Kelly until O’Donnell returned in 1989. O’Donnell remained on the daytime show until it was cancelled and continued to announce the syndicate edition until he passed away in 2010. After O’Donnell’s death, Jim Thornton took over the role. Woolery left in 1981 and was replaced by Pat Sajak. In 1989, Sajak left the daytime show to host his own late-night talk show. He was quickly replaced by Rolf Benirschke who remained on the program until it was moved to CBS. When it was moved, Benirschke was replaced by Bob Goen who remained the host until the daytime show was cancelled. Stafford left in 1982 and was replaced by Vanna White. White remained on the daytime show for the remainder of its run. Since its inception, the syndicate edition has been hosted by White and Sajak.

With over 6,000 episodes aired, Wheel of Fortune ranks as the longest-running game show in the USA. In 2008, TV Guide named the show the “top-rated syndicate series” and in 2013, it bagged second place on the magazine’s list of the 60 greatest game shows. Today, the show has sixty international adaptations and has gained a worldwide following. In 2018, Pat Sajak become the longest-running host of any game show, overtaking Bob Barker, who hosted Price is Right from 1972 to 2007.

Basics of the Game

So now we know the history of the game, but how does it work? In the Wheel of Fortune, three players compete to solve word puzzles similar to those in hangman. At the start of each round, contestants are given a category such as a person, phrase, place, or object that is made up of blank spaces. The aim of the game is to fill the spaces with the correct letters. The players take it in turns to either spin the wheel and guess a consonant, buy vowels from their earned chips, or solve the word puzzle. At the end of the three rounds, the player with the most cash and prizes wins and progresses to the bonus round.

Wheel Spin Prizes

The wheel consists of dollar amounts, specific prizes, and special game elements. Some of the wedges contain half a prize; for instance, there may be two wedges that contain 1/2 a car each. To win the prize, players must collect both the wedges and go on to solve that particular puzzle. Other interesting elements include the million-dollar wedge, which awards a contestant $1 million if they solve the puzzle correctly, the free play wedge, which allows players an extra turn to buy a vowel for free, call a consonant letter, or solve the puzzle. The wild-card wedge allows the player to guess an additional consonant in either the regular or bonus game. The wheel also includes ‘bad’ wedges, such as the bankrupt or lose-a-turn wedges. The wheel being stopped on either of these will result in the loss of all earnings or the loss of a turn.

Toss-up Rounds

In addition to the three standard rounds, every game of Wheel of Fortune includes toss-up rounds. During these, letters are revealed one-by-one by the board. Players compete to see who can call in and correctly solve the puzzle first. If a player guesses wrong, he is out of the round and the remaining player can either guess immediately or wait for the board to reveal more letters. Currently, puzzles in the toss-up round have values of either $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000.

Bonus Round

At the end of the main rounds, the winning player moves onto the bonus round. During this round, a smaller wheel is used that contains 24 envelopes. Each envelope contains a particular prize. After the letters R, S, T, L, N and E have filled the spaces where they appear in the phrase, person, object, or place’s name, the player must solve the puzzle. Before solving it, the player selects three additional consonants and one vowel. When the correct consonants and vowel have been guessed, the selected letters are revealed. The player then has 10 seconds to solve the puzzle. If he solves it, he receives the prize in the envelope he spun for at the start of the round.

In Summary

The Wheel of Fortune is one of the most popular TV game shows of all time. While the network version was cancelled in 1991, the syndicate edition is still aired today. If you’re interested in trying the game for yourself, versions of it can be played via an online casino. If you’re struggling to choose an online casino, we can help. At, we review a range of casinos and games to let you know which ones are best. Additionally, we take offers and promotions into account to help you get the most for your money.

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