Part of the lasting popularity of “Wheel of Fortune” is the predictability of the game play. Guessing letters for the game has become formulaic, and only those suffering from extreme stage fright falter when the the guessing gets easy. But when one contestant began picking the worst possible letters, it caused some confusion for the audience, and for Pat Sajak, the show’s host.
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The show was recorded in November 2015, but what happened is so fascinating that it is continuing to gain momentum on the web. Nura Fountano was a contestant during its annual Veteran’s Week with other former military vets.
Fountano was winning, and had a dominating lead going into the final round. That’s when the chaos started.
She was trying to solve the puzzle “Following Footprints.” Trying might be the operative word here. When it was her turn, she picked the letter Z.
“Say that again for me?” Sajak asked. “Did you say ‘Z’?!”
Fountano had said Z, and she answered him with poise. “As in Zulu. Z.”
Needless to say, there was no Z in Following Footprints. When her turn rolled around again, she chose the letter X. At this point, it was obvious that this was not a mistake.
She didn’t solve the puzzle. She threw the game on purpose so that one of her fellow contestants could win more money. Steve, another vet, had none won much, but he won that round.
“May I ask you a question?” Sajak said to Fountano. “You called some unusual letters that round!”
“That’s what I saw,” Fountano remarked.
The viewing audience, though, they were confused. Once it was explained to the really clueless ones, Fountano’s good deed picked up steam.
Steve had started the final round with only $1,600 in winnings. At the end, Steve had $6,400. A gift, of sorts, from Fountano who was in no way greedy.