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M_M_NT _F

_W_S_M_

...I'd like to solve the puzzle, Pat.


  • Pretty much any $100,000 win, but especially:
    • The first $100,000 win, made even more amazing in that the contestant had just barely hit the $100,000 envelope, and his bonus puzzle had only one letter missing after he called his extra letters.
    • There was also a pair of contestants in 2003 who performed a clean sweep, leading to a then-record total of just under $120,000 (counting a $100,000 win in the Bonus Round). This was later beaten by a team consisting of country singer Julie Roberts (playing for charity) and a contestant, who exceeded $120,000 by clean-sweeping and winning the $100,000.
  • The first $1,000,000 win, which blew the aforementioned records out of the water. The first $1,000,000 and $100,000 wins also happened within a month of their debut. The odds against that happening are huge! (To make it even more impressive, the $1,000,000 winner picked up the Million-Dollar Wedge on her first spin.)
  • Three different contestants who all tied the highest one-round record of $54,000 in the Speed-Up. However, the record-setting episode was a Downer Ending; that contestant lost the $100,000 in the bonus round and, as a result, missed a chance at setting a new overall winnings record.
  • Anyone who solves a puzzle with only one or two letters showing, such as these:
    • Circa 1985: _______N_ ____ (CLEVELAND OHIO).
    • December 23, 1994: C________ ______ (CHRISTMAS WREATH).
    • March 7, 1996: B___ ____ (BORN FREE). Was mentioned in the following episode's contestant interviews.
    • September 26, 1996: G____ _GG_ ___ ___ __ __. _____ (GREEN EGGS AND HAM BY DR. SEUSS). Also led to the first-ever Jackpot win.
    • British Version in 1997: ___ L______ _____ __ ____ (THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA)
    • Week of December 30, 2002: ___S__ _R____R _S _R. _R_S__R _R___ (KELSEY GRAMMER AS DR. FRASIER CRANE). Not surprisingly, said contestant confessed to being a big Frasier fan.
    • November 26, 2008: ____ T__T T_____T (HOLD THAT THOUGHT).
    • November 16, 2009: B____TB___ ____ __ ____ (BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME).
    • December 17, 2009: __TT__ ____ ________ (LITTLE ROCK ARKANSAS).
    • December 1, 2009: S_____-___ ___ S_____ (SCOOBY-DOO AND SHAGGY). This contestant said he had extra time to ponder the answer since his opponents were calling incorrect letters.
    • January 7, 2010: T__ ___T __T_ T__ ___T (THE HOST WITH THE MOST).
    • January 8, 2010: _______T__ ___T_ ________ (CHARLESTON SOUTH CAROLINA).
    • May 3, 2010: A Toss-Up of ___ ____Y ____ (THE WINDY CITY).
    • May 4, 2010: A Toss-Up of ___Y ____ (NAVY PIER).
    • September 15, 2010: ______ ___SS__S (CHERRY BLOSSOMS).
    • September 22, 2010: A Toss-Up of ___ _-___M (THE A-TEAM).
    • November 5, 2010: _'__ ___ _ ____ ___L___ _____ ____ (I'VE GOT A GOOD FEELING ABOUT THIS), a Prize Puzzle. Yes, that's one letter out of twenty-seven. Pat was dumbstruck for several moments, and the contestant (Caitlin Burke) appeared on several talk shows after her big solve.
    • May 12, 2011: ___S____ _____T_T___ (FRESHMAN ORIENTATION).
    • May 19, 2011: ________ __N ___N__ (ELECTRIC CAN OPENER), which actually ended up proving why it's not always a good idea to solve as quickly as you can. Since it was a Speed-Up, he could've easily let time run out (as it's very unlikely his opponents would've known the puzzle that early, and one could've easily called an S) and waited for control to come back for him so he could call the C's to win the game. Instead, he lost by only a couple thousand.
    • January 24, 2012: ______-T____ ____ (COFFEE-TABLE BOOK). Bonus points to the contestant for not being thrown by the improper hyphen.
  • This also applies to Bonus Round solves with little to no help from the "three more consonants and a vowel":
    • September 7, 1992 and May 13, 1996: _R__ (FROG). Yes, it happened twice.
    • October 5, 1992: _A_ (WAX), a great example of thwarting the bonus round's Fake Difficulty.
    • October 22, 1992: ____ ___ (BABY BOY). That's right, no letters were on the board.
    • March 31, 1995: ___ O__ __SE (WAY OFF BASE).
    • Late 1990s: __NK ____ (JUNK FOOD).
    • February 2001: ____ER (GOPHER).
    • February 17, 2003: ______RM (BOOKWORM). Solved at the last second with an assist from celebrity partner Alison Krauss.
    • April 24, 2003: _O__E_ (JOCKEY). Led to a $100,000 win.
    • October 21, 2003: _____PS (HICCUPS). Pat jokingly said he would retire if she managed to solve it.
    • May 18, 2004: __ ___T TO _O_ (MY GIFT TO YOU), solved at the last second.
    • September 20, 2004: M_T_ ____ (MATH WHIZ). Pat screamed "WHAT?!?" when the contestant blurted out the answer.
    • March 7, 2005: _R___ ___T (GRAVY BOAT).
    • September 28, 2005: _I_____ING (KICKBOXING).
    • November 21, 2005: ____ L___T_EAR (BUZZ LIGHTYEAR). A $100,000 win during Teen Week, and just one week after another $100,000 win.
    • January 4, 2006: _E__ER (HEIFER). The contestant called B and A among their letters, and was quick to figure out that it wasn't BEAVER.
    • March 15, 2006: ___ING T_E ___ (PAVING THE WAY).
    • March 24, 2006: M_TH ____ (MATH QUIZ). You try getting a tough word like QUIZ with nothing showing.
    • October 29, 2007: R____ (RUGBY).
    • January 28, 2009: __L__N_ (BALCONY). Solved at the last second, and made even more amazing by the same contestant having already performed a maingame clean sweep (i.e., winning all Toss Ups and regular rounds). The clean sweep and bonus round solve can be seen here.
    • March 18, 2009: __LD ___E (BOLD MOVE). Do you know how many words could fit in those blanks, even with nearly half the alphabet knocked out?
    • September 24, 2009: _R_E_ ___SE (BRIEF PAUSE).
    • December 15, 2009: ___T _O_ (GIFT BOX). Also solved at the last second.
    • March 5, 2012: __N_ - __ T__ (WIND-UP TOY).
  • Anyone whose letters allow them to fill in the bonus puzzle entirely, which typically gets a well-deserved round of applause and a good deal of sarcasm from Pat.
    • October 8, 1992: In a particularly amazing example, given a three-letter puzzle in the category of Place, a contestant chose C-D-Z-O to fill in the very difficult bonus puzzle of ZOO.
    • October 16, 2009: The contestant chose C-H-F-O-W to fill in CHOSEN FEW.
    • February 16, 2010 (shown in the second part of this video): Despite being up against a more difficult puzzle (no Wild Card this time), the contestant nonetheless confidently chose Y-V-H-U to fill in VERY HUSH-HUSH.

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  • September 1983: The first syndicated Wheel, which had a noticably higher prize budget than the daytime show.
    • The first nighttime show offered over $85,000 in prizes, whereas daytime shows at the time averaged in the $40,000 range. Top prizes on the first syndicated show included a Pontiac Firebird (worth about $13,000) and a $5,000 "once-in-a-lifetime" trip around the world.
    • The $5,000 spot, which back then was really something to write home about. A lucky spinner, along with excellent gameplay, could quickly amass a score of $20,000 or more.
    • The top-end bonus prizes were typically more than $20,000, with one of the early ones -- an Auburn roadster -- topping the $60,000 mark; a log cabin (also offered during the 1980s) was worth $59,000. (Both the log cabin and Auburn roadster were won.) Numerous Oldsmobile Toronados and Cadillac Sevilles were also offered and won. Compare those offerings to the more common econo-car offerings (such as the Mazda GLC hatchback) and trips offered as bonus prizes on the daytime show, rarely topping $10,000.
    • The all-time syndicated regular round winner during the shopping era was a woman who solved "AN AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY" for $44,300. (That's nearly $20,000 less than what Terri, the contestant who was unable to cash in with $62,400 on the infamous "THE THRILL OF VICTORY AND THE AGONY OF DEFEAT" episode.) By comparison, the top single-round winners on the daytime show seldom topped $10,000.
      • Also right up there was the first big front-game winner, who solved "THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA" for $25,000 during the syndicated show's first week ... and went on to buy nearly everything in the guest bedroom showcase, plus two cars (a Pontiac 1000 and Pontiac Sunbird station wagon) and a trip to Japan. The prize budget for that episode was a paltry-by-syndicated-standards $55,000 ... and it was very quickly upped considerably.
  • November 14-25, 1988: The entire two-week stint in New York City. This was the first time Wheel had traveled, and it was such a success that traveling is now a tradition for the show. To this day, Wheel is the only show that goes on the road. The highlights of Wheel's stint in New York:
    • Don Pardo announcing, in his only appearance on a game show since Jackpot ended in 1975.
    • An extremely high budget (an RV and a boat were suspended above the set), with $337,000 worth of prizes available (over twice as much as what the show normally offered at that time)!
    • A special set with diamond backdrops for the contestants (this would become permanent in 1991).
    • Cameos from lots of New York-born celebrities.
  • Early 1994: There are no words to describe the awesomeness of Raymond Taylor. Pat's reactions around him are equally priceless. The Funny Moments page describes him in greater detail.
  • February 20, 1995: The only "Some of the Greats" week, which brought back several former champions (yes, including Raymond Taylor) and had them compete in a tournament for charity. TV Guide gave the show a "cheers" for this.
  • Week of December 9, 1996: Four, count 'em, four Jackpot wins. One was on the Friday Finals, meaning that someone won the Jackpot twice.
  • The season premieres for 1997 and 1998 celebrated Labor Day (they both debuted on that Monday in September) with contestants who were all members of labor unions. 1998's also took place in Philadelphia, featured a cameo from the AFL-CIO's leader, and consisted entirely of prizes that were made in America by union members.
  • February 1998: On a show from Las Vegas, a contestant wins a custom-built Shelby Cobra worth over $105,000 in the Bonus Round. Even more impressive, as bonus prizes rarely exceeded even $30,000 at the time.
  • April 24, 2007: A contestant is apprehensive about his bonus puzzle being In The Kitchen, but still manages to solve with a wild guess of BACKSPLASH. He then asks Pat, "What's a backsplash?"
  • It's common for a contestant to know the Bonus Round answer before picking his or her letters, and thus calls four letters that are in the puzzle. One particularly awesome instance (December 19, 2008) involved a Bonus Round answer of JIGSAW PUZZLE, for which Z-W-J-I were called.
    • Another instance was when the contestant obviously knew that the Bonus Round answer was JUNEAU ALASKA right away. Not as awesome as the above example due to his picks of J-C-K-A just not being as cool as Z-J-W-I, but still pretty awesome.
    • December 1, 2010: A contestant called Q-H-B-O on the very easy puzzle NO QUESTION ABOUT IT. As far as anyone can tell, this is the first time Q has ever been called in the bonus round. So far, it doesn't seem anyone's ever called an X there, but...
  • October 1, 2010: Chris, throughout the main game, spun the Wheel at least four times. After landing on a Bankrupt at least three times, he lands on $5,000...only to call a letter not in the puzzle. During the Final Spin, he solves the puzzle with $24,000, and goes from $1,000 after solving only a Toss-Up to the bonus round, where he solves the puzzle and wins a further $45,000, leaving with a total of $70,000. (Note: Pat noted he got four Bankrupts, probably meaning he had even more bad luck that was edited out.)
  • January 21, 2011: A contestant lands on a Mystery Wedge and decides not to flip it over, lest she risk the Caribbean trip she got earlier in the round. Later, she lands on the other Mystery Wedge...and decides this time that she will risk both $2,800 and the trip for a chance at $10,000 extra. She gets the $10,000 and then hits $3,500 on her next spin, eventually solving the puzzle for $17,000 combined. That took balls.
  • Whenever a contestant makes a clean sweep (i.e. wins all the Toss-Ups and rounds, plus the Bonus Round).
    • April 5, 2011: A contestant does not only that, but also goes to the Bonus Round with the Million-Dollar Wedge and Wild Card.
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