TV

Bad pronunciation costs 'Wheel of Fortune' player chance to win $1 million

Sep. 18, 2013 at 5:10 PM ET

It turns out that on game shows, both spelling and pronunciation matter a whole lot. "Wheel of Fortune" contestant Paul learned that the hard way on Tuesday's episode, the second of its 31st season.

After landing on the teensy million-dollar wedge, he attempted to solve the puzzle, which was "corner curio cabinet." The answer that came out of his mouth? "Corno curo cabinet."

Bzzzzz! Incorrect, ruled the show. No chance at that whopping $1 million prize for Paul!

"Well, it's one of those ... it just didn't come out the way you intended it to!" host Pat Sajak declared after the next player in line enunciated and pronounced the answer properly for the win. "Paul, you've proved what several players have proven and I prove almost on a nightly basis: Sometimes your mouth says what your brain doesn't intend for it to," he later joked.

Paul, though initially flabbergasted by not having his answer approved, had a good attitude about the situation, later enunciating the word "corner" to prove he can speak English, and slowly and accurately pronouncing a later answer to solve a puzzle.

"You just have to say words, actual words, Pat!" he laughed.

Even if the powers that be behind "Wheel" had cut the man some slack and given him the win on the "curio" puzzle, it would've been really tough for Paul to even make it to the bonus round without landing on "Bankrupt," and then spinning the special bonus-round wheel to land on the $1 million envelope. That's because fellow player Luis ended up with more than $30,000 in prizes to move on to the final round, while Paul had a relatively puny $2,000.

(Sony Pictures Television, which produces the game show, declined to comment.)

In August, young Thomas Hurley had his loss sealed during Kids Week on "Jeopardy!" when he misspelled "emancipation" in the final round. But unlike Paul, the young man wasn't quite as gracious in his unavoidable loss. Rather than taking the defeat like a champ, the young man later said in an interview that he "was cheated" for "just a spelling error."

So take note, game-show hopefuls: Practice your enunciating and spelling before testing your skill on national TV.

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