Currently in its 35th season in syndication, Wheel of Fortune is America’s Game®. Originally created by Merv Griffin in 1975 as an NBC daytime show, Wheel of Fortune is based on the popular game “Hangman.” Pat Sajak and Vanna White have hosted the show since its debut in syndication in 1983. Jim Thornton became the show’s announcer in 2011.
Three contestants compete by spinning The Wheel and calling out consonants for money or prizes. Once a contestant has earned some money, they are able to buy vowels for $250 each.
The contestant who has won the most cash and prizes at the end of the main game goes on to play in the “Bonus Round” for additional prizes. Beginning in Season 35, the winning contestant will have the chance to choose their category of their bonus puzzle from three options. No one leaves Wheel of Fortune empty-handed; each contestant is awarded a minimum of $1,000 cash.
Some of the exciting game elements include:
“Million Dollar Wedge”: If a contestant collects the wedge, solves the puzzle and makes it to the “Bonus Round” without hitting bankrupt, they will be playing for a top cash prize of $1 million on the Bonus Wheel.
“1/2 Car Tag”: During the second and third rounds of play, two “½ Car Tags” will be on the Wheel. A contestant must collect two “½ Car Tags” and correctly solve the puzzle to win the car.
“Free Play”: It gives contestants the choice to buy a vowel for free, call a consonant to earn $500 each or solve the puzzle. Right or wrong, the contestant will continue their turn.
“Wild Card”: Gives the option to call an additional consonant either in the regular rounds of play or in the “Bonus Round.”
“Mystery Round”: During the second round of play, two “mystery” wedges are placed on the Wheel, each hiding either a “Bankrupt” or “$10,000” on the face-down side. After correctly calling a consonant, a contestant can either take the wedge’s face value of $1,000 per letter in the puzzle or take the 50/50 chance of getting $10,000 or Bankrupt. If the $10,000 prize is won, a Wheel Watchers Club member can also win $10,000.
“Express Wedge”: When the “Express Wedge” is landed on, the player will call a consonant. If correct, they earn $1,000 per letter and the player must declare “pass” or “play.” By “passing,” play proceeds as usual. By “playing,” the player continually calls consonants, earning $1,000 for each one in the puzzle, until he/she is able to solve the puzzle. A wrong move results in the player going “Bankrupt.” Vowels still cost $250.
“Prize Puzzle”: The contestant who correctly solves the “Prize Puzzle” will win a prize in addition to their winnings for the round.
“Crossword Puzzle Round”: Words that are tied together by a clue will appear intertwined, horizontally and vertically across the puzzleboard. Contestants play the game normally until they solve the puzzle by reading all of the words in any order.
Wheel of Fortune is produced by Sony Pictures Television Studios, a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company. The executive producer is Harry Friedman. It is distributed domestically by CBS Television Distribution and internationally by CBS Studios International, both units of CBS Corp.
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